You may have thought that Data Warehouses were a thing of 90s tech nostalgia, but you would be wrong in assuming so.
A Data Warehouse obtains huge streams of data from a company’s databases, applications, and additional source systems, and then is specifically designed to not only store, but also summarize those large volumes of data.
However, modern data warehouses are much more powerful and faster than their older counterparts. They support new data types, serve a larger spectrum of business’s critical-functions, and most importantly, are capable of providing actionable insights to anyone in your business at any given time. Data Warehouses have had staying power because they are still an important aspect of business decision-making.
If you’re interested in unlocking crucial big data, a must for the success of your business, you’ll want to begin investigating new initiatives to deal with your Data Warehouse issues. In this post we’ll describe 5 ways to successfully implement and adopt various Data Warehouse solutions.
Building a Data Warehouse that Helps Your Business Scale
One thing is for sure when you’re thinking about your Data Warehouse environment: you need a program that excels at processing very large data sets, and Hadoop has largely been seen as the platform of choice. Hadoop is an open source software framework that allows for processing huge data sets by distributing them across commodity servers.
Hadoop eliminates reliance on conventional Extract, Transform and Load (ETL) software and makes the process over-all more economical. Its distributed file system (HDFS) and parallel MapReduce paradigm (which is how Hadoop processes data and provides a framework for processing data) is a necessity for standard data warehouses. To simplify working with Hadoop, enterprise versions like Cloudera, MapR and Hortonworks have been created as pay-for platforms that offer consulting, training, and technical assistance.
The thing about Data Warehouses is that without the right precautions, you can get lost in an unforgiving maze. There are simply too many moving parts within an integrated Data Warehouse (the servers, storage, database, software protocols, etc) that, without the right road maps in place, you can easily get lost in the data shuffle.
However, with such engineering systems as Oracle Big Data Appliance and Oracle Exadata Database Machine, you can preconfigure and optimize for specific kinds of workloadsÔÇöwhich means you’ll get the highest levels of performance without the pain of integration and configuration.
Today’s DW manager will be concerned with expanding their data warehousing structure at a lower cost than what older Data Warehouse technologies could allow for. Part of the answer to that is data compression which is the art of reducing the number of bits needed to store or transmit data.
Even if your company’s data is growing at a 10X rate, you can use advanced compression methods like Oracle’s Hybrid Columnar Compression. By enabling the highest levels of data compression you can provide your enterprise with tremendous cost-savings and performance improvements due to drastically reducing or even eliminating the need to purchase new storage for several years.
The term “in-memory” refers to the process of loading data in RAM (Radom Access Memory) flash memory. Stored data is accessed faster from RAM, which means that “in-memory” processing allows data to be analyzed in real time. This enables faster reporting, so businesses can be more productive and reap benefits within an unprecedented time frame. In some cases this means the difference between seeing an outcome in weeks instead of months.
Data Warehouse in the Cloud
Even though the death of Data Warehouses was on the tip of everyone’s tongue for some time, it’s been brought back to life with the major shift in the application of Data Warehouse technology to the cloud.
Amazon was a leader in this technology by developing an on-demand cloud data warehouse in Redshift. The economics of the cloud prove to be better than appliance based Data Warehouses: the elasticity is realistic and the logistics are streamlined.
The cloud was one of Amazon’s leading services since its launch, but has been met with competition from Google with BigQuery, and from long-time data warehouse power players such as Microsoft (with Azure SQL Data Warehouse) and Teradata, along with new start-ups such as Snowflake.
While it’s true that Data Warehouses feel like a kind of historical relic, as of right now, they’re more valuable than ever before. They still house prize data on customer and business performance and, as new applications are being created, the importance of Data Warehouses to unlock big data just keeps growing. These top 5 solutions for Data Warehouses, represent a whole new era of data management, which transforms data into an enterprise’s most powerful asset: information.
The case for wearing your own data points
We haven’t quite reached Jetson status in the workplace yet. George Jetson complained about a heavy workload that involved 3-hour workdays where he stood punching a button. But with the advent of wearable technology, we’ve certainly adopted some of those Space Age ideals. Take wearable technology, from health sensors and smartphones to watches and Fitbits.
In this post take a look at some considerations of wearable technology you should keep in mind, and how you can, and whether you should integrate them into your company.
When you slip your smartphone into your pocket or affix your Apple iWatch to your wrist, you’re creating a personal platform covered with collectable data points. And now businesses, maybe even your boss, want to take advantage of that data to understand how employees can work better and smarter.
Goldsmiths, University of London, conducted a study, the Human Cloud at Work, in 2014 demonstrating that employees were, on average, 8.5% more productive when employing wearable technology and 3.5% more satisfied in their job.
Chris Brauer, director of the Human Cloud at Work research project, reports that success comes from a few things: 1) visibility in that users are aware of their output and find ways to self-improve; 2) gamification, meaning employees feel a sense of healthy competition in a group of colleagues; 3) balance, the perceived message by employees that technology can help them to correct imbalances and assist with motivation and confidence.
Rather than simply mandating that your warehouse workers or field agents don health sensors or GPS tags, make sure you have a solid IT plan in place beforehand. Sit down with your company’s decision makers, human resources representatives, IT staff, and your legal team.
There is, of course, a fine line between tracking your employees’ movements via wearable devices and being Big Brother. Create language for policies surrounding the use of wearables in the workplace. You’ll need to lay out what data is and isn’t collected, create consent forms, determine how data will be collected, and how long it will stored. Will third parties be able to access your employee data at any point?
Further, does your IT staff even have the manpower and infrastructure to support wearable devices? In the Human Cloud at Work research study, U.S. IT staff members reported concerns about the “increased loading on the IT infrastructure, the exponential increase in data collection and the need for investment in skilled personnel to be able to utilize that data.”
Virtually all of these devices rely on Bluetooth connections that can make them especially vulnerable to security breaches of sensitive data. For security purposes, ask yourself: what monitoring systems do you have in place? What backend systems do you currently have in place?
Wearables go far beyond an Apple SmartWatch. Companies are starting to adopt wearable technology designed for all industries, including construction, logistics, manufacturing, and medical fields.
In Australia, truck drivers at the Rio Tinto coal mines are currently using SmartCaps, a baseball cap with sensors to detect alertness in order to deter exhaustion-related accidents. Amazon warehouse employees wear GPS tags and carry scanners that give them the most efficient route in the warehouse to fulfill an order. Orthopaedic surgeons are taking Google Glass into the operating room to live-stream surgery feeds for educational purposes, pull up medical images as they operate, and even consult with colleagues.
The practical applications for wearable technology, according to TechCuppa, a technology news site, are as endless as the designers who create them.
So you collect data on heart rates, the number of steps your employees are taking, their stress levels. What do you do with it? If you mandate that employees use wearable technology throughout their day, are you prepared to invest in not only the technology but also the support staff, including hiring analysts to interpret that data?
Let’s say your warehouse employees report they’re taking 30,000 steps each day with increased heart rates and elevated stress levels. What efficiencies are you prepared to implement in order to boost worker productivity while bringing down some of that on-the-job stress? Can you afford to invest in forklifts to minimize their trips? Can you hire additional workers to help juggle the workload?
What changes are you willing and able to implement as a result of the data you collect?
Engaging Your Employees
It’s easy to get people fired up at the outset when it comes to implementing new technology, but how do you keep them interested? Moreover, what’s in it for them?
Survey company Office Vibe reports that 87% of employees aren’t truly engaged in their jobs. And yet, they add, giving employees opportunities for personal and professional growth are keys to happier, healthier, more productive workers. How can you find a way to address this in the context of wearable technology?
That same survey found that for every dollar spent on wellness programs, medical costs fall by about 27 cents. That’s why Bloomberg News reports that companies like oil giant BP handed out more than 24,500 Fitbits to employees in 2015 as part of an incentivized health program.
So you can roll out stress detectors, Google Glass, and company Fitbits, but unless you create user engagement around the technology and continue to do so, your employees simply won’t stay engaged. Offer incentives for wearable technology, both on a quarterly and annual basis. Organize office contests. Award prizes to the employee who takes the most steps or wears his Fitbit 30 days in a row. Maybe integrate the data obtained for business purposes with data useful for personal or group purposes. Make employees feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves: include their accomplishments in the company newsletter and on the Intranet, and dole out praise regularly.
Forget the Jetson’s 3-hour workday. That’ll never come to fruition. But as tech companies continue to roll out affordable wearables, businesses of any size can pick and choose how they want to integrate the technology into their operations and weigh the cost analysis and the implementation time. Above all else, make sure there’s something in it for everyone.