OLAP or online analytical processing is a technology that enables answering of multidimensional questions quickly. It is actually a useful part of Business Intelligence (BI) – especially when it comes to data analysis.
If you are using any BI tool, chances are, it contains an OLAP technology in it. The best quality of this tech is in data discovery – that is why it is very important in business analytics. All companies have loads of data to analyze and it can be quite a challenge to filter through them so you can get only what you need to make important decisions. If you need to plan, this online analytical processing will definitely come in handy.
So how can you use this technology?
Well, it certainly goes beyond writing reports, relational database or even data mining. Companies can use this technology to generate reports necessary for sales, business process management, financial reporting, budgeting and forecasting, management reporting and marketing. You can also create simulation models and trend analysis that will make forecasting all the more effective.
Using all of the data that can be taken through the OLAP, key people in the company will have something to base their decisions from. The advantages of this technology includes:
- Gets the right data to supplement the knowledge that you need at a particular time. The rest can be stored and accessed as needed.
- Keeps up with the continuous planning and analysis that every business model requires. This is applicable in all business processes – whether it is in sales, marketing, back office or other operational activities.
- Allows efficiency and reduced expenditure as the data will always be available for analysis.
- Simplifies a huge load of data coming from different systems. Having a lot of data makes the statistical analysis all the more accurate and effective. But all that data can be overwhelming. thankfully, OLAP can simplify the data to get only what is needed.
- Enables a company to turn data into shared knowledge in a timely and accurate manner.
It is important to realize that OLAP technology presents the different variables of data as dimensions. And since business data is usually numerous, the online analytical processing environment will not present that data in a two-dimensional worksheet report. This technology makes use of the Cube – which is a multidimensional database structure that allows storing of consolidated information. This allows users to view the data according to what is needed – which is called Slices in OLAP terminology. These capabilities of the online analytical processing technology allows for a more sophisticated analysis of data.
The implementation of OLAP is dependent on three factors: the software, business model and sources of data. This makes the implementation different across numerous sectors. While it is commonly used in businesses, this is also something that will benefit eLearning programs. After all, a great eLearning course will require a technology that will allow it to analyze if the course is meeting its goals and living up to expectations. This is important in any program that seek improvements over time. Since the OLAP technology allow for complex analytical computations and even predicting what ifs in forecasting, this will serve you well in eLearning.
Image courtesy of OLAP.com