Alan Alda is still widely known as “Hawkeye” Pierce from the hit television series “M*A*S*H” but he’s also the long-time host of the PBS series “Scientific American Frontiers,” in which he interviews research scientists. Discussing his 11-year hosting stint on National Public Radio recently, Alda described his approach for eliciting information from brilliant scientists. His […]

How do you deal with changing dimensions? Hybrid approaches fill gaps left by the three fundamental techniques. Unlike most OLTP systems, a major objective of a data warehouse is to track history. So, accounting for change is one of the analyst’s most important responsibilities. A sales force region reassignment is a good example of a […]

Perhaps it’s just coincidental, but several people have asked a similar question recently. “Should the DW or BI team gather requirements from the business?” Honestly, this question makes the hair start to stand up on the back of my neck. I’m concerned that too many organizations have overly compartmentalized their data warehouse and business intelligence teams. Of course, […]

Do you know the difference between dimensional modeling truth and fiction? According to Merriam-Webster, fables are fictitious statements. Unfortunately, fables about dimensional modeling circulate throughout our industry. These false claims and assertions are a distraction, especially if you’re trying to align a team. In this column, we’ll describe the root misunderstandings that perpetuate these myths so […]

Periodic check-ups will help you avoid letting business intelligence and data warehousing problems spin out of control. It’s human nature to resist visiting a doctor for periodic check-ups. Generally, we’d prefer to avoid being poked and prodded, having our vital signs taken, and then being told that we need to quit smoking, exercise more, or […]

As with most things in life, change is inevitable with dimension attributes. Most Design Tip readers are familiar with the three basic slowing changing dimension (SCD) techniques: Type 1: Overwrite the attribute Type 2: Add another dimension row Type 3: Add another dimension attribute If this is news to you, take a look at Ralph’s April […]

The Kimball bus architecture and the Corporate Information Factory: What are the fundamental differences? Based on recent inquiries, many of you are in the midst of architecting (or rearchitecting) your data warehouse. There’s no dispute that planning your data warehouse from an enterprise perspective is a good idea, but do you need an enterprise data […]

I worked at a company called Metaphor back in the early 1980s. As part of a startup software company introducing then-cutting-edge concepts (such as folders, file drawers, and workflows on a graphical electronic desktop), I appreciated the benefits of using metaphors to represent seemingly complex concepts. Effective verbal and visual metaphors are able to convert complexity into […]

Atomic fact tables are the core foundation of any analytic environment. Business analysts thrive on atomic details because they can be easily rolled up “any which way” by grouping on one or more dimension attributes. The robust dimensionality of atomic data is extremely powerful as it supports a nearly endless combination of inquiries. However, business […]

People often engage us to conduct dimensional model design reviews. In this column, I’ll provide a laundry list of common design flaws to scout for when performing a review. I encourage you to use this list to critically review your own draft schemas in search of potential improvements. What’s the Grain? When a data warehouse team […]