Inmon vs Kimball: who is the winner?

It’s already difficult to imagine a situation where business makes a progress without data. It plays the main role in companies’ operation on the basis of which business team makes different decisions, develops strategies and forecasts etc. For every improving company it is too necessary to make appropriate relations with their data. And the most important step is data warehouse architecture.

What is data warehouse?

Data warehouse is a storage system for data collected from different sources within a company and used to run decision making process.

Currently there are 2 prominent architecture styles to build data warehouse: the Inmon architecture and the Kimball architecture. Ralph Kimball and Bill Inmon propose different concepts. The main difference is a technique of data structure modeling, loading and storage. This difference has influence on the initial delivery time of the data warehouse and the ability to accommodate ETL design changes. However, methods have general characteristics: both of them position the data warehouse as the central data repository for a company; cover all corporate reporting needs; use ETL to load data warehouse.

Let’s consider each method.


The Inmon approach

This method begins with the corporate data modelling. With the help of this main subject areas and entities (customers, product/service, vendors etc.) are identified. Consequently, on the basis of this a detailed logical model for each entity is created. Entity structure has a normalized form, data redundancy is avoided as much as possible. It is a key characteristic of this technique that allows to determinate business concept and avoid data update anomalies.

The data warehouse is the one source of the truthful information for enterprise. Such structure simplifies data loading. But it is difficult to use structure for querying because of many tables and joins.

So, B. Inmon propose to build data marts for every specific department (Finance, Sales, Business Development etc.). All data is integrated, and data warehouse is the single source of data from different marts. Such concept guarantees data completeness and consistency across an organization.



The Kimball approach

This approach begins with main business processes and questions identifying. The operating system is a key data source. For data delivery from different sources and loading it into a staging area is used ETL software. From here data is loaded into a dimensional model. The key approach difference is not normalized dimensional model. The star schema is the main concept of dimensional modeling where is centralized store. The fact table contains all data relevant to the subject area. The dimensional table describes stored data. User can make detailing without additional connections as dimensional tables are totally not normalized.  R. Kimball proposes the conformed dimensions concept to achieve an integration in the dimensional model. Key characteristics (customer, product, service) are built once and used by all facts. This guarantees identical characteristic usage by all facts.



Both techniques have their advantages and disadvantages and depends on a situation each of them can be more efficient. The main task is to make reasonable and amenable to business needs decision for the best result achievement.

Digital transformation as a driving force for business development

The modern age doesn’t have statical form. Its essence is usual changes. And the one will be successful who acts in unison with them. Firstly, changes were happened in the information technologies area, that became some kind of strength test. Before COVID-19 situation just 15% of company gave priority to the digital transformation. In this case, they could transform their work process to remote format. Other 85% had to work hard for being in time with rapid technology changes and requirements.

The pandemic has global influence and became a reason of accelerated digital technologies implementation. If recently there was a trend to implement artificial intelligence, augmented reality, cloud analytics, DevOps, but after pandemic such customer support tools like chatbots got their popularity.

Information technologies is a trigger of actual changes, after that it became possible to influence the events’ run surgically: to improve efficiency, upgrade some products or services, introduce new business models and many others. International Data Group* conducted research of the IT decision-makers. 32% of them confirmed positive influence of digital transformation on the revenue with 23% increase.

Progressive companies use the algorithm of integration digital project development for their own requirements and take as the most important element for business life cycle. Due to research of International Data Corporation (IDC)**, the amount of investments in this sector will achieve $2 trillion by the year 2022.

The perturbation must be happened with everybody and every system and it doesn’t depend on scope and business activity. The main role belongs to the TOP-management, who has to come first with all these transformations and understand exactly their value. Also, it’s necessary to understand the scope of transformation, because it will be happened in every business levels. Moreover, it could cause changes in corporation culture and business policy generally.

Taking into account each organization’s individuality, it’s not possible to create one and the only decision. And it means need to be ready for experiments and fails during implementation process and searching own «ideal». In addition, it’s important to remember about work group. Every innovation success also depends on clear reporting of «rules of the game» to every employee and favorable working environment. IT and HR-departments are the link between TOP-management and employees and have the responsibility for this part of process.

Transformations are not always about comfort and commonly bring some challenges and losses. Thus, you shouldn’t ignore the strategy. It’s not a panacea, but clear seeing of the picture will help to recognize risks and prevent damages. And the main responsible person is a TOP-manager, who will understand all process steps, be ready to confront with difficulties, and be the main initiator and support for his team.

*International Data Group – American media and research company, focused on the tech landscape.

** International Data Corporation (IDC)  ̶ is an international research and consulting company that investigates world  information technologies and telecommunication market.

We’re being chosen

«Tools developed by DataLabs are extremely impressed. It doesn’t look like QlikView, it looks like a website».

A firm Ansell (Health & Safety provider) hired DataLabs to create an analytics system to gather all its ERPs’ data. They developed and continue to host a system using QlikView to check APIs to have the ERPs’ data in a single dashboard.

Senior manager FP&A, Business Intelligence, Ansell said: «DataLabs knows the technology well, allowing them to build a very strong platform where all data is easily accessible. The tool they developed was extremely impressive. Their team is responsive, open to new challenges, and communicative».

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