When considering business justification for technology projects such as building a data warehouse, business users determine their return on investment (ROI) to allocate limited resources for the organization. How quickly will it yield business benefits? How will we know we are getting a good ROI? These are the fundamental business questions posed to secure sponsorship for a data warehouse project. The compelling answer to these questions lies not only in how effectively we deliver reliable, accurate data, but how we transform warehouse data into business intelligence. A combination of Executive Information Systems (EISs), Decision Support Systems (DSSs) and On-line Analytical Processing (OLAP) with the data warehouse will deliver business intelligence and a solid ROI.

Business intelligence is the timely combination of tactical and strategic input that helps an organization achieve its goals. At the highest level, an EIS on top of the data warehouse fills this need. Executives need fast, reliable feedback about how the business is operating compared to plans, to measure success and adjust corporate strategy. Business intelligence begins with a top-down view of the key performance indicators (KPIs) of how the business is performing. The standard queries and reports that create the KPIs may include revenue and profit growth, quality of products and services, and customer satisfaction. The data warehouse provides a quick review of these broad measures and trends along with variances against expected results. This "electronic dashboard" of KPIs allows timely executive attention to be focused on understanding and managing the variances in the plan.

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