Data warehousing is getting pretty long in the tooth. Not many people see it as a driver of renewal or transformation in an enterprise. There are lots of reasons for this, the most notable being that its original formulation is basically flawed ­– a largely passive repository of data capable of very little except being a middleman between unruly source systems and a swarm of downstream data marts, cubes, reports and plain-old extracts. That's the original formulation. Luckily, many chose to deviate from that formula and create data warehouse architectures that were less magnificent in their (promised) scope but far more useful as a tool. Way back in 1995, one case in particular decided to take a critical look at this landscape and came up with something that was truly transformative.

Can a data warehouse be transformative? A data warehouse alone cannot be transformative; but it can be a part of, even the center of, an initiative to change how an organization does business. It can be part of a program to move people out of their comfort zones and adopt some new ways of doing things. Here is one example of how a company I worked with did it.

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