An introduction to the benefits of online analytical processing (OLAP)

February 2, 2005

[From Builder.com]

Every day we create reams of data in customer relationship management applications, order entry applications, and warehouse management systems. We're drowning in a sea of data. However, even with all that data we don't have a large amount of information. We have the ones and zeros of the transactions, but we don't have the answers we need to simple questions like:

  • Why was March better than February?"
  • Where is the sales force having the most success?"
  • In what conditions does the sales team struggle with making sales?"

In the 1990's, the talk was about decision support systems and executive dashboards. The maturation of those concepts is realized in online analytical processing (OLAP). OLAP is designed to convert data into usable information by allowing the aggregation of data. This process allows you to answer questions like these--even when you don't know what characteristics may be important to the question.

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