Q:  How long would a typical BI Portfolio project take?




Q:  You've made it pretty clear that you consider the enterprise data warehouse to be the foundation of a company's BI portfolio.  However, many BI applications claim to work without the need for any data warehouse at all; they simply pull and integrate data directly from various source systems.  If this is true, why would we ever go through the hassle and expense of building an EDW?

A:  It's true that most BI applications provide the functionality to integrate data from disparate systems, wrapping complex calculations in a semantic layer that insulates business users from database code.  However, it's important to understand two important distinctions:

  1. Despite the sophistication of these semantic layers, they can't persist data that simply doesn't exist in the source systems (i.e., snaphshot measure groups, slowly-changing dimensions, etc.)  This is especially true in the multifamily industry, where our systems typically store only the current state of an element.
  2. The formidable task of integrating data - matching up an entity in the financial system with an entity in the property management systems with an entity in the HR system for example - still has to be accomplished.  No matter how fancy the BI application, they can't magically integrate and normalize data without well-defined business rules, error handling, data cleaning, etc.  In other words, the same tasks still need to be accomplished with or without the use of a data warehouse.  The EDW is a long way from becoming an endangered species.