Boiled down to its essence, the real purpose of a data warehouse is to be the perfect platform for decision-making. Most data warehouse (DW) and business intelligence (BI) architects accept this view, but how many stop and think carefully about what is decision-making, exactly? Every DW/BI architect can describe his or her technical architecture, but how many can describe the architecture of decision-making? If there even is an architecture of decision-making, how does the DW/BI system interact with its components, and what specific demands does decision-making place on the DW/BI system?

In 2002, Bill Schmarzo, a former member of the Kimball Group, proposed a very useful architecture for decision-making, which he called the analytic application process. According to Bill, an analytic application consists of five stages:

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