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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Options aplenty for DW professionals

Article Collected by - Education is My Passion

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Today's businesses realise that to manage, maintain and accurately analyse the sea of data generated on an everyday basis, and then make various decisions to run the businesses better, is a challenge they have to cope up with.

The challenge is twofold: one, to collect the data required at one place and second, to analyse using various methods in quantitative and statistical analysis resulting in better decision making. Many studies have proven that decision-making on the basis of gut-feel or tribal knowledge will result in sub-optimal results. The foundation for these analytical systems is Data Warehouses, where the data across an organisation (and sometime external data) is captured, cleaned, stored and maintained. With most businesses automating their processes by means of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Human Resource Management (HRM) and other transactional systems, the competitive differentiation between them is getting lower by the day. This is when the next competitiveness is achieved through the use of Analytics.

“There will be a continual demand for Data Warehousing (DW) and Business Intelligence (BI) professionals, just like there was demand for business automation software like SAP for years to come, but the opportunities will open up to tackle the second challenge,” says Surya Putchala, vice-president of The Data Warehousing Institute (TDWI) India chapter.

Top priority

A recent Global CIO study by IBM stated that 83 per cent of Chief Information Officers (CIOs) of companies identified business intelligence and analytics as their top priority for enhanced competitiveness. “Business analytics and optimisation is a $105 billion market that includes hardware, software and services and it is witnessing growth of 8 per cent.”

As Gary Cokins, an expert on advanced cost management and performance improvement systems put it on Information Management Online portal, “Using analytics that include statistics is a skill that is gaining mainstream value due to the increasingly thinner margin for decision error. It is necessary to gain insights and inferences from the treasure chest of raw transactional data that so many organisations have now stored (and continue to store) in a digital format. Organisations are drowning in data but starving for information.”

Ambuj Goyal, General Manager for information management software at IBM (Software), on internetnews website, recently cited a report from IBM Market Intelligence that says that the demand for business optimisation will grow at a 7.8 per cent compound growth rate between 2009 and 2012, compared to a 3.3 per cent compound growth rate for the much larger business automation market.

Like a tsunami

With such facts staring in our face, Mr. Surya notes that the field is like a tsunami which is going to come our way. “But only that it is a job tsunami, which is a good problem to have.”

So what is it that an aspiring Enterprise DW/BI professional needs to have and what tools should they be equipped with? Jim Walch, who built an entire EDW for Microsoft and is currently the General Manager (IT) at the company's global headquarters says any EDW/BI professional, should have a passion to deal with raw data, be very analytical, able to deal with ambiguity and be flexible. One also needs to have aptitude for problem solving, analysis and abstract thinking. “EDW/BI is more a business challenge than a technical challenge. Hence there is more focus on understanding the business process and domain and on understanding all technical aspects of building DWs” he said in a recent interview to The Hindu Education Plus.

Mr. Surya suggests students to take subjects like Database Management systems, Quantitative Analysis, Operations Management, Mathematics and Statistics, Data mining, Software Engineering in their curriculum seriously. “It will help if they do their projects in BI/DW area, learn as much about this subject and give/attend seminars while in college,” he says.
If there is an opportunity, learning about functional areas such as Finance, Accounting and Manufacturing will do a lot of good. He says the best way for them is to reach out to the chapters such as TDWI and DAMA and get connected to practitioners for advice and career guidance in this area.


Students may refer to the following websites to know the latest:,

Source : The Hindu

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