Many companies nowadays claim to be data-driven. At e-verse, we’re not an exception. But we do take that claim seriously!
Ever since we were a small(er) three people company, we started an initiative that is still going strong today, having grown to 20+ people.
That initiative is our data warehouse. But, what does having a data warehouse mean?
The Silo Problem
It’s normal for organizations to push data on different platforms every day. Specific areas and teams naturally use individual tools to accomplish their daily goals, whether marketing tracking a campaign, sales keeping tabs on customers and deals, accounting crunching numbers, or operations pushing projects forward (you get the idea). Data silos will exist, no matter how hard we try to connect these platforms.
After the digital transformations and migrations we’ve seen in the past few decades (and years), we’re continuously adding platforms for different purposes to support remote work, building digital infrastructures that allow us to collaborate. This tendency is not stopping any time soon.
How Data Initiatives Help
Rather than fighting this situation, building a data warehouse helps take advantage of it. Regardless of how distinct the platforms used in different areas of an organization may be, their data gets consumed and stored in a centralized location. Data is “potential information, analogous to potential energy: work is required to release it”, with information being “data that has been processed into a form that may be consumed by a human being”. 1
So, the first step to releasing this potential information is to have it available. A data warehouse facilitates that: data gets inserted into it through different connectors that transform it and organize it into a normalized format, with the warehouse acting as a central, cloud-based database.
So far, we have a large pool of data from different sources, centralized in a single place. But, here’s where the best part comes in: the data silos from each platform no longer constitute an issue. We can use data from a single source or mix it up to generate reports that make it easier to gather insights from it. For example, we can merge data from accounting with operations, balancing the status of the projects and how they perform financially. Or, bring sales deals and compare that to how a marketing campaign is converting, to name a few.
The warehouse constitutes a sort of “company brain” with reports acting as gauges that allow us to get the overall status of things at a glance, getting insights that otherwise, we may surely miss.
Some components of it, like Forky, are internal systems we’re developing for ourselves. Others come from third-party providers. Regardless of their origin, they all interact here.
Thoughts for the Industry
We’re a software company working in the AEC industry, and what I’ve described here is all meant at a company level. As an architect-coder (architect of actual buildings), I’d also like to mention applications to the industry, particularly in a BIM context. We provide several services in this regard, oriented at architectural/engineering studies, AEC software, or BIM production companies.
Imagine having a single place where you could manage all BIM data from different projects, along with productivity metrics from the field and the office, produced by each user and stakeholder? I think that’s a world we all aspire to in a traditionally data-siloed industry.
- Jeffrey Pomerantz in Metadata