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What is the industry standard benchmark for data warehouse customer usage?

By
  • Sid Adelman, Chuck Kelley, Clay Rehm, Les Barbusinski
Published
  • December 02 2002, 1:00am EST

 

 

Q:

What is the industry standard benchmark for data warehouse customer usage? I am particularly interested in comparing the number of active user accounts versus the total of registered accounts. Basically, I am just wondering if 25,000 "active" users out of 75,000 total registered accounts is a reasonable percentage. "33 percent of our customers used our system last month while 67 percent did nothing." Does that seem too low? What would that suggest is a reasonable level of percentage usage over the long run?

A:

Sid Adelman's Answer: Your question raises an interesting point - how did you determine your target user community? How was a person identified to be a registered user? Perhaps you were overly optimistic about the usefulness of your system or the ability of the user community to accept the system. Have you been able to assess user satisfaction, because if you are not measuring, you have no way of knowing what to improve?

A low percentage of user acceptance is often characteristic of inadequate or inappropriate training, or were you so enamored with your delivery that you felt that no training was required? Have you had a chance to validate the effectiveness of your training? Training should include modules on the data they will be using and information on the use of the query and report libraries.

Les Barbusinski’s Answer: If you’re getting 33 percent of your user base to utilize your data warehouse on a regular basis, you’re doing very well. Keep in mind that data warehouses are not operational in nature…they’re analytical. They help people monitor processes, analyze market conditions, and make business decisions. Not everyone in the company is involved in such activities, and even those who are don’t need to consult the information in the data warehouse on a daily basis.

My experience has been that utilization is typically highest in data warehouses that generate critical operational reports and lowest in data marts that generate "deep" analytics for a few marketing or business analysts.

A word of warning: Don’t value your data warehouse or data mart solely on its utilization. A small data mart that is seldom used but provides business analytics that help the enterprise avoid market pitfalls or capitalize on fleeting business opportunities is just as valuable (or, maybe even, more valuable) than a terabyte data warehouse that generates operational reports for thousands of users each day.

Clay Rehm’s Answer: I think that quality is more important than quantity. You developed your data warehouse for a reason and for a specific audience. This would be documented in your project planning and requirements documents. The question is – is the intended audience still using the data warehouse and, if so, does it meet their needs? If they are not using it, why not? Are you conducting regular surveys to determine if it still meets their needs? If you are not, why not? A data warehouse is not something you build and walk away from. It requires a lot of attention, maintenance, enhancements, tweaking, etc.

When you ask if 33 percent is too low – is it? What was the original number when the data warehouse was implemented? A data warehouse has merit even if the audience is very small if it provides value to the people who are using it. I would poll the users who are not using the system to find out why they are not using it.

Chuck Kelley’s Answer: I don’t know of any industry standard benchmarks for utilization by customers (users), but I would guess that less than 50 percent would norm.

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