What are databases?

Databases record information in tables allowing users to access business information that is accurate and informative. Databases protect company information and allow for sophisticated searching and reporting.

Despite databases being known by most people as a computer system for storing information, very few people understand databases. This really is a shame as well designed databases are vital to the success of organisations.

Whilst we can think of databases as being highly sophisticated systems, our phonebook, Microsoft Outlook, Search Engines, Content Management Systems, our photo albums and our music libraries are all forms of databases.

A special type of database is a relational database with many different vendors specialising in them. Info Rhino Limited specialises in Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle. The key functions of a database are to ensure data is not lost, is stored efficiently and can be easily accessed.

Typically, small and large companies need database systems that help manage large areas of their business.

Ideas about report development from databases

The way we think about report development is like building up stock levels, It takes time to find stock leading to a high inventory turnover rate. Contrast this with an inventory nobody cares about, doesn't sell, takes up storage space thereby costing you money. This analogy perfectly depicts how important databases and reporting is to any company. Your organisation starts with databases and intelligence comes from reports helping grow the business but choosing the wrong database, buying the wrong stock can destroy the business. Info Rhino are well placed to help you build the right database and reporting solution.

  • Databases
  • Bespoke websites
  • Data collection
  • Reports

Challenges from databases

As experts in developing databases in all types of organisations there are three main challenges:-

Combining a database with a front end application

Few people have the breadth of experience of completely understanding how databases work and have even less understanding of how to design a database that serves a front end effectively. We find the opposite with website designers who don't understand how to take advantage of databases and create complicated applications.

Accessing information from within databases

The second challenge is once data starts to exist in many databases, often poorly designed, the question is how does companies use that valuable information. There are two main approaches and three main ways companies go about procuring a solution.

Ad-hoc reporting on the operational database (OLTP). Imagine you have a website that is serving live customers, that same database is used to provide reports to users and people within your company. This approach affects performance and can cause the original application to not function.

Maintaining the database

The final way in which databases challenge organisations is ensuring a database is operational. A database must be maintained, secured and protected. Bad development with poor understanding of databases can lead to awful performance and put the company's operations at risk.

Who should do your reporting?

After considering the main challenges to having a database there is the obvious question as to who should try to derive the reports from them. There are three roles who can perform report development.

The application vendor

Unless the application has been built completely with reporting as a primary function or the vendor completely understands their market, you should never rely on the application vendor. Vendors spend too much time making their application work to worry about report development.

In-house report development

This can be a good and cheaper option compared to outsourcing, can be more flexible and as in-house knowledge on your company's business means you have a better chance of developing reports you actually need.

Outsourced reporting development company

A Business Intelligence consultancy such as Info Rhino Limited is the best way to provide autonomy in developing the reports you need. A BI consultancy understands when an ad-hoc reporting solution should become an Enterprise Data Warehouse. There is always that balance between technical expertise and domain expertise (I.e. Somebody who understands the actual business) but often this can actually work against companies.