I have always enjoyed investigating new business intelligence techniques and tools which will benefit my efforts as a data analyst. Yesterday I was given the opportunity to learn a new dimension modelling technique through the An Optimal Introduction to BEAM✲ (Business Event Analysis and Modeling) workshop.
Ready to go
The BEAM✲ course facilitator was Shaun McGirr, another data analyst (Data Digger) with OptimalBI, who apart from being an excellent facilitator is one incredibly smart analyst. Many analysts spend a lot of time and effort preparing, analysing and presenting data and information only to find out that they’ve missed the mark on the ultimate request.
Shaun sets up for BEAM✲
BEAM✲ is an Agile approach to dimensional modelling which aims to counter this historical communication disconnect by uniting people who are rich in data knowledge with other people who are rich in business knowledge in the dimensional modelling process.
The idea, derived by Lawrence Corr with Jim Stagnitto and outlined in their book Agile Data Warehouse Desgin, is to discuss a businesses processes in full and form scenario stories. It’s a bit like behavioural interviews but for business process. From the scenario stories the data knowledge rich people are able to build targetted and useful tables for reporting (aka fact tables).
To some traditional database minds the results will look heavy for data storage, but with storage at all time low cost most data analysts and their managers are more concerned about the grunt (CPU, RAM, I/O) required to present their data. They are willing to forego some expense for storage if they can make it up in reduced response times for users refreshing the report presentation layer off fewer tables.
Thursday’s BEAM✲ workshop was attended by a wide range of business intelligence professionals. We worked through a case study involving a pizzeria (to get into the swing of things we ordered Pizza for lunch). This highlighted the fact that most business intelligence professionals have worked in hospitality at some point in their career, as we were quite capable of answering operational hospitality questions in varying degrees of detail.
By the end of the course my interest had been piqued so much that I started formulating business processes from a few of my previous employers, the realisation that datasets used for reporting in those organisations could have been enhanced by BEAM✲ methodology was deflating and encouraging at the same time.
The book that started it all
My interest is raised so much that I am now going to investigate further with the view to facilitating BEAM workshops and future courses myself.
Life is a journey, not a destination – Mel.