Part 4: Determining Your Data Profile
In the previous chapter, we talked about determining your usage profile.
Now that you have defined your use cases, user personas, and usage profile, it’s time to determine the types of data you will be using and where this data is stored to understand which BI solutions will work with your data source(s).
Here are the questions you should answer in order to piece together your data profile.
Do I Have Structured Data or Unstructured Data?
Structured data will typically be stored in a relational database, log files, XML files, or Excel files. Structured data has logic built into it and can be queried by traditional methods.
Unstructured data is unorganized or unformatted data, such as data that lives on web pages, inside Word documents, or document oriented databases such as Mongo DB or NoSQL Database. By its very nature, unstructured data is challenging to query.
Where Does My Data Live?
The next critical question you must answer when determining your data profile is, “Where does my data live?” The location of your data influences how and by which methods your data can be accessed.
Your data could live in a database, such as Microsoft SQL or Oracle, or within spreadsheets such as Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets, or Zoho Sheets. The bulk of your data may be located in the cloud within Google Analytics, Salesforce.com, or NetSuite. Or your data may be located in an internal file system or within an application. Once you identify the location of your data, you will have a better understanding of which BI solutions will be able to access your data.
How Big is My Data?
Understanding how much data you have is important for your data profile, because if you have a very large amount of data you will want a BI tool that can handle “big data.” Additionally, if you have high velocity data that is constantly streaming in, the BI tool should be able to handle real-time, big data.
How Important is My Data?
Purchasing a BI solution will not solve every big or small data issue you have. This is why it’s important to prioritize your data and determine which data is attached to the largest business process issue that needs to be solved. If the data is unimportant, deprioritize it.
When you combine all of the above information – the structure, location, size, and importance of your data – you will be able to qualify or disqualify BI solutions based upon your data’s profile.
In the last chapter, we will talk about determining your budget.