No matter what business a company is in, it is also in the business of data these days. Those companies with more data, cleaner data, accessible data and the business processes to exploit the data will emerge the winners in saturated markets that dictate that former competitive advantages are simply tickets to entry. This realization of the competitive advantage that data produces is reaching the midmarket as well as the Fortune 500 these days.
Most midmarket companies use software applications to "run their business". The vendors of these applications usually provide crude means of reporting, often as an afterthought and most always directly from the data in the operational application. Unfortunately, data access outside of the software usually interferes with the running of the application itself, unless you access after hours (if you even have after hours). This all assumes the data can be accessed at all – much data can't be accessed due to an outdated technology base or a data model that cannot accept access. And if basic reporting is achieved, interactive access remains a major challenge.
These problems of access are more pronounced in the midmarket. Fortune 500 companies faced this dilemma and hence the data warehousing (a.k.a. business intelligence) concept was born and is now a business staple. These limitations are also becoming increasingly insufficient for most of these midmarket users, but they have "lived with it", eschewing the
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This was first published in July 2002