What is the difference between data warehousing and business intelligence?


Sid Adelman’s Answer:Your question brings up the topic of terminology, how terms are used, how often they are misinterpreted and the religious wars that arise from the disputes that follow. These terms (data warehouse, business intelligence and many others) are used in many different ways and contexts sometimes resulting in angry exchanges, name calling and bodily injury. To avoid these types of confrontations, find an existing glossary, copy the definitions you like and put them on your internal Web site. You can find such glossaries in: Data Warehouse: Practical Advice from the Experts, Joyce Bischoff and Ted Alexander www.egltd.com www.billinmon.com

Les Barbusinski’s Answer:Data warehousing deals with all aspects of managing the development, implementation and operation of a data warehouse or data mart including meta data management, data acquisition, data cleansing, data transformation, storage management, data distribution, data archiving, operational reporting, analytical reporting, security management, backup/recovery planning, etc. Business intelligence, on the other hand, is a set of software tools that enable an organization to analyze measurable aspects of their business such as sales performance, profitability, operational efficiency, effectiveness of marketing campaigns, market penetration among certain customer groups, cost trends, anomalies and exceptions, etc. Typically, the term “business intelligence” is used to encompass OLAP, data visualization, data mining and query/reporting tools.

Scott Howard’s Answer:Business intelligence is used to refer to systems and technologies that provide the business with the means for decision-makers to extract personalized meaningful information about their business and industry, not typically available from internal systems alone. This includes advanced decision support tools and back-room systems and databases to support those tools. The data warehouse is that back-room database. Combine that with the support tools required to build and maintain the data warehouse, such as data cleansing and extract, transform and load tools, and you have what many call data warehousing.

Think of the data warehouse as the back office and business intelligence as the entire business including the back office. The business needs the back office on which to function, but the back office without a business to support, makes no sense.

Larissa Moss’s Answer:Data warehousing is a subset of the overall business intelligence scope. BI encompasses any and all decision support activities, whether operational, tactical or strategic. That includes CRM analytics, operational data stores, data warehouses, data marts, etc. BI is also an umbrella term for new technology available to better manage the business, which includes CRM components, such as sales force automation, collaborative and cross-channel communication such as customer contact center and help-desk support, relationship management for customer, partner and vendor. BI is a new generation of what we used to call DSS (decision support systems), which provides BI to the back-office executives plus additional front-office automation, which provides BI to the sales force in the field.

Clay Rehm’s Answer:Interesting question! Depending on whom you talk to, there is no difference between data warehousing and business intelligence. In the early days of data warehousing, data warehousing described the capture, integration and storage of data. Software vendors noticed that there was a lack of good data access tools to query the data, so the “business intelligence” tools were born. If you had to make a distinction between the two, data warehousing describes the actual database and processes to populate it, while BI describes the processes and tools to query, access and analyze the data.

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