Data Warehousing Advice for Managers
by Patricia L. Ferdinandi.
AMACOM, 208 pages, $29.95.

There's been a lot of buzz about the advantages of data warehousing, but for business managers it can seem like a lot of tech talk.

With this book, Ferdinandi explains data warehousing in business terms for business managers. It is not a book on how to construct a data warehouse (you will need experienced help). Rather, it's a non-technical overview of what a data warehouse is, how it can help your company, and whether or not you need one.

If you decide your company does need one, this book shows you how to gather relevant information and present your case to executive management. You will also learn enough to oversee the implementation process to make sure it meets the company's needs.

What Is a Data Warehouse?

A data warehouse is, in a nutshell, "the automated filing cabinet of all data required by a corporation." It provides users access to a limitless variety of up-to-date, quality information for managers.

While other types of information storage systems are designed for specific functions - purchase-ordering systems and systems that produce payroll checks, for example - a data warehouse is designed to store as much information as possible in order to answer any number of ad-hoc questions on any topic that managers are researching. Specifically, according to Ferdinandi, having a data warehouse can help you answer questions on:

  • product/service development;
  • operations process improvement;
  • logistics/distribution;
  • marketing; and
  • organizational development.

Warehousing and Retail

In the retail industry, for example, analyzing warehoused point-of-sale data can help retailers anticipate consumer trends and improve their order cycles, sales forecasts and customer profiles. Thus managers can answer questions from "What is the customer base by region and economic standing?" to "What is the best shelf-space positioning that will increase sales?"

"Data mining" technology, which uncovers correlations and relationships in the data, can allow even more sophisticated analysis of the data.

Return on Investment

Because this is an expensive business tool, Ferdinandi provides enough information to evaluate the costs, benefits and return on investment of data warehousing. She also details how to implement it effectively, while avoiding common pitfalls. This jargon-free book is an excellent resource for any business manager learning about data warehousing and its uses.

Copyright © 1999 Soundview Executive Book Summaries