If you talk to a telecomunications person, he will sell you the latest phone, or video conferencing solution.
If you talk to a computer salesman, he will sell you the latest, fastest machine or gadget.
If you talk to a personnel consultant, he will find some more minutes in the day.
Will this help? No !
I'm here to tell you that information is the key, you can have the best communication system, the best hardware and technology, but if you don't have a database with real time information, you will struggle.
My observation is that there are very few solutions being built today from scratch with a clean sheet; I can understand that, the last time I did that was 20 years ago and I spent several months analysing data and preparing a comprehensive data model and process diagrams, - its expensive. The whole data modelling skill set seems to have dissapeared.
And I wonder how many systems are being created on the back of an envelope using the latest development tools, with all the effort being put into the 'Front End', "User Experience" and no thought being given to the back-end database.
To my way of thinking, the database should be the starting point, and if you can understand how the database will store both your data and the rules of your business at that point you can start to build your functionality
A good database will be well structured, this will allow efficient processing of data from day one to day 10000 whether there is one user or 1,000. (for those that have never heard of 3 normal form you should read this )
A well structured database will allow you to uncover information from the data by understanding the ralationships.
A well structured database will allow you to grow and add new data elements with minimal changes to the database. eg When we built our database we did not have specifically named fields for mobile phone, email address ( they were'nt common back then ) but we recognised that there was a need to record multiple personal contact details for fax number, pagers, DDI so we created a table for contact details and so when mobiles and emails were needed we had a ready made location.
A well structured database will allow your systems to learn and be responsive to the way it is used. eg Many databases have 'type tables' which are used to populate drop downs. Allowing certain users to add to this list allows for new options to be added dynamically, and with a bit of smart coding we can add a frequency of use field which will allow us to put the most frequently used option at the top.
A well structured database will have rules. Smart databases will allow the software to adjust the rules automatically. eg many databases have products, and most of these will have some sort of minimum level which will trigger the re-ordering process. An intelligent database will understand the length of time required for delivery of the product, then by looking at the delivery time and the number of orders processed in the last period it can alter the minimum stock quantity so that slow moving items will adjust themselves based on demand.
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