Behind just about every successful business these days is a successful database (or series of databases). For newbies, a database is an organized collection of data – usually stored on a local machine or in the cloud so that it is quickly searchable – and organizations can do all sorts of cool things with the information once it’s in an organized system.
Unfortunately, a lot of businesses don’t take the time to keep their databases up to date and well-organized…which can lead to trouble. What happens if you’ve got a database but aren’t taking care of it? Well, besides data loss and security breaches, you’re going to be making your crucial business decisions based on flawed information. And that kind of thing can bring down an entire company.
So how do you maintain good database management protocol? We like to break it down into the three A’s: Access, Analyze, and Act.
Access is the ability to retrieve data from the database. Sounds pretty obvious, right?
Well, access also refers to ensuring only authorized personnel can get into your database. If you don’t secure your database, you may have to deal with data theft, data loss, data corruption and more. So when we talk about access, we’re also talking about login credentials, multifactor authentication, setting off restricted areas for sensitive information, and the like.
But that’s not all. Even when you’re just starting out, you have to make sure your databases are scalable and can handle the increasing volume of data as you start to do more business and close bigger deals. Database administrators must monitor the situation all the time to make sure database performance is up to snuff and, when it’s not, identify and resolve bottlenecks that are slowing down data retrieval.
Once you’ve got your good data, you’ve got to know what to do with it. Processing and correctly interpreting data is essential to making the right business decisions.
The problem with databases, however, is that you’ll often be dealing with immense amounts of data, so that even just sifting through it just to know where to start can be time-consuming and challenging.
As human beings, we absorb information more easily if it’s presented in a visually and intuitively comprehensible manner or by using other data-visualization techniques. They can make it easier for you to pick out trends and patterns, to see how different data points are related, and to make informed decisions based on what you’ve learned. And, of course, we now have much more robust machine-learning tools to support the work of analysis.
There’s a reason why this word follows, “Lights!” and “Camera!” on a fast-paced movie set. Once you have your data-based analytical insights, you ideally want to do something with your new knowledge. This is where you optimize operations, increase productivity — and improve the bottom line.
So how do the A’s work together? If your business is losing money on moving the essential components needed to manufacture your product, the insights you obtained from data analysis might be used to identify bottlenecks in the supply chain and eliminate the unnecessary shipping steps costing you time and money. Or maybe you’ve lost some of your customer base to a rival. In the action phase of your database usage, you could develop products and services that better cater to consumer needs that you’ve identified in your data analysis.
Making the 3 A’s work for you
You need a healthy database to grow a 21st-century business. And a database isn’t healthy unless it’s secure, scalable and efficient. The three essential A’s of database management are your guideposts for keeping your database working with you to make the right decisions for your company. And if you want to delve further into databases, wait for our post on “ACID.”