What is the truth? How do I find the truth? Just the truth, the real truth.
This is a common demand of police detectives, lawyers, relationships, or every day life. But let us now forget that those of us working in the BI community demand the the singular truth for our solutions to be a success. Our business users are most certainly demanding that. Without, we are providing business solutions used for critical decisions that would be based on possibly false knowledge or obfuscated facts.
Continuing on the most recent DBCF postings around data quality and data integration, I want to stretch this out to the concepts of SSOT (single source of truth) or SVOT (single version of the truth). These are essentially common database design objectives and are critical in BI solutions. A business scenario which includes BI as a component can be solved by simply putting in a cube and a spreadsheet. The sometimes hard & tedious work of wading through the sources of similar but different data and battling the organizational politics can be 80% of your efforts in a complete BI solution including data integration.
What does a fact table not contain facts? In the world of dimensional modeling for data warehouses, the analyst and the modeller must perform the exercises of modelling the star schema, but cannot ignore a deep analysis of data sources. Data profiling in this context is the primary activity where you will look for duplicates, similarities and differences and determine, along with the owners of the data, which customers, products, LOBs or sales are to be treated as the database of record. And how can the datawarehouse bring disparate sources together for a single version or vision of the truth. These are just a few examples. I encourage further research and have a look at this article, which is one that I enjoyed reading on this topic: http://www.computerworld.com/databasetopics/data/story/0,10801,88349,00.html.
When we work on BI solutions specific to industry business scenarios, we build data marts so that we can have the proper data sources integrated to generate reports and analytics needed to solve business problems. There are a number of Microsoft partners that have tools and practices to make this a success in your project. Searching Microsoft.com for data integration partners will provide a good start for you. For our MEC (Microsoft Enterprise Cube) framework customers, we provide data quality and integration tools and expertise to work with our customers on-site to uncover the SSOT and SVOT.
As always, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org for questions regarding these BI solution concepts and other related topics.