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What is a data warehouse?

A data warehouse is a system which stores, aggregates and processes data from various sources. This gives an accurate view of what’s happening across your organisation in real time, enabling you to make smarter, faster, data-driven decisions.

Your data warehouse could bring together records from marketing, finance and IT to build a singular, comprehensive profile of your customers. Or it could take data from various departments to give you an overview of how the business is performing at any given moment. You could analyse this data by timeframe, product or service line, or use it to forecast future performance.

In short, data warehousing forms the foundations which support high-performance business intelligence.

What’s so good about a data warehouse?

A data warehouse will allow you to:

  • Break down data silos by merging disparate data sources
  • Cleanse and transform data, ensuring accuracy and consistency
  • Implement data governance rules to help you comply with regulations, such as GDPR
  • Automate tasks – such as report generation – on pre-defined rules or performance thresholds
  • Gather insights from a single source of truth
  • Create a pragmatic, data-driven decision making culture that reduces the risk of ‘gut-feel’ decision making and management inaction.

Graphic showing the architecture of a data warehouse

How does a data warehouse work?

A data warehouse environment may look something like this:

  1. Your data exists in separate databases – for example, a finance billing system, marketing CRM and customer support database
  2. The data is extracted, transformed and loaded into the data warehouse (also known as ETL)
  3. Processing rules are applied that make sure data is regularly updated
  4. Data is consolidated, creating a single version of truth
  5. Data can be surfaced for quick and easy analysis
  6. Data analytics and visualisation tools provide actionable insights
Data flowing into a computer

End-to-end data services

illumo digital offers data warehousing services and consultancy to help your business maximise the value it gets from your data. Our end-to-end data services also include:

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Data warehousing with illumo digital

Working closely with you, our data warehousing experts follow these 7 important steps:

1. Understanding your data needs
To understand your data needs, we first need to understand your business needs. We’ll work with you to map out the challenges you’re facing, and create user stories to tackle the problem.

2. Data analysis & architecture design
Using your business roadmap and user stories, we create a data architecture and technical design that will extract and transform your data into a common format that can be loaded into the new data warehouse.

3. (Optional) Revise warehouse designs
Data is often recorded incorrectly, or hasn’t been stored in the right place. Instead of modifying the legacy data source itself, sometimes it’s easier and cheaper to modify your data warehouse design to accommodate legacy data. We’ll work with you to find the most efficient and cost-effective solution.

4. Data transformation
This is never just a one-off process. We’ll write scripts that regularly extract and transform data in line with your business heartbeat. We set these scripts to run on a regular basis, ensuring your data is up to date.

5. Test
We build and run regular performance tests to assess whether the system is working as expected. To check the data pipeline works correctly, and that it’s delivering the insights you need, we test each data source against agreed acceptance criteria.

6. Verify outputs
We check the integrity of your transformed data, and that the outputs align with your goals, roadmap and user stories.
Businesses often find that once their data warehouse is up and running, there are new data challenges to address – new customers, products, territories and data sources. We’ll continually review your data warehouse capabilities to tackle these new challenges.

7. Integrate data visualisation tools
People will use data in different ways. Some prefer reports, some prefer graphs and charts, and others prefer drilling into the detail. Visualisation tools can make your data easier to understand, make data more compelling, and provide a platform for guiding your strategies and decision-making processes.

We’ll help you choose the best data visualisation tools to complement your data warehouse, such as Microsoft’s SSRS reporting suite, QlikView or Tableau.

illumo digital has over 7 years’ experience in creating data warehouses and analytics platforms. Our customers tend to work with us over the long term, growing their data capabilities to adapt to changing business needs and helping them stay ahead of their competitors.

We work with small organisations scaling up for growth, and large organisations like the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) who make life-saving tactical decisions based on insights from their illumo digital built data warehouse.

Want to know more about Data Warehousing?

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us on 0117 379 0679

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We’d love to hear from you about your project. Our friendly, experienced team can help you connect the dots – whether you already know what you want, or want more information about our products and services.