The database is the core of modern business today. Matter of fact, research shows that 81% of businesses in 2018 believed that IT is a key enabler of business, with a further 81% agreeing to the fact that data analytics should inform business decisions.
What all this boils down to is the need for an elaborate database in a modern organization. And if you happen to live in the tech circles, you’d be aware that the term, Entity Relationship Diagram or ERD, is one subject you might have to deal with.
But first, what’s a database?
Oracle defines a database as an organized collection of structured information or data. This data would be typically stored electronically, in a computer.
So, instead of the old file system where you’d have a countless number of files with enormous heaps of paper containing tons of information, a database would take all that bulk away and store whatever you need, safely, in a central computer.
For a business, this means less paperwork, better data organization, and improved data query and access.
And if you’re wondering how is a database better than something like a spreadsheet, check out this article where we discuss that topic.
So, where does the entity-relationship diagram come in?
To define a database, you need to define two key things:
First, the entities – otherwise known as parties or objects that would interact and participate in the database transactions. And second, their relationships.
In more technical terms, an entity-relationship diagram shows the relationships among entity sets that are stored in the database.
Case example of an ERD?
Say we have a car sales company. Two entities that may be present in the database would be Inventory and Sales and Marketing. These are departments you would typically have in an organization.
And between these two entities, would exist the relationship that once Sales and Marketing records a sale, the Inventory records would have to be updated to mark the decrease in the number of cars/assets the company owns.
Also, apart from defining the entities and the relationships that exist between them, an ERD would need to define the attributes that each entity holds. These are data points that would be stored, specific to the entity, and would be descriptive of the entity.
For instance, the Inventory entity in the car sales company would need to store the number of cars currently available in the warehouse. Sales and Marketing, on the other hand, may need to store the number of cars sold and the cost of marketing so far.
What does all this boil down to?
The database schema.
This is the design of the database and is key to a successful database implementation.
The schema is used mainly by the database manager and IT team to figure out the structure of the data that is to be stored, the relationships, final implementation, and how data may be queried from the database.
Once the database schema has been realized, it’s usually the work of the IT team and database manager to do the final implementation using special programming languages such as SQL. These languages translate the database schema to a model that the computer can understand and manipulate.
The business dilemma
Now, not all business users are tech-savvy. Matter of fact, most technical work within the office is usually left for the IT team to deal with. That’s why, despite 81% of companies agreeing that data analytics should inform their decision-making, only 19% are actually taking initiative on big data.
The major challenge that most organizations face is the lack of technical know-how needed to make extensive use of data and data analytics.
And for most database implementations, generating useful reports out of the data stored usually requires the writing of SQL queries, which is not an office person’s bread and butter.
Business intelligence self-service solutions.
Business intelligence self-service solutions offer a way in which anyone in the office, with the right access rights, can access data relevant to him/her, in a friendly manner, without having to learn a bit of programming or coding.
For instance, in the more technical setup, the Inventory manager would have to write and execute a series of SQL queries to gather data that would be relevant for decision-making within his/her domain.
And since, in most cases, he/she would not have the necessary expertise, the organization would have to invest in training programs to teach him/her how to make queries and generate reports from the database.
However, with a simple App, authorized users can get access to reports and data straight from a database with zero code being written.
Better yet, they do not need to know how the ERD looks like since, with the more technical setup, you’d only be able to fire up a correct query if you have apt knowledge of the entity-relationship diagram.
How can DashboardFox help?
DashboardFox was designed to be a self-service business intelligence tool that lets you easily convert complex things like database schemas into a codeless report writer designed for non-technical users.
What’s the process:
- Connect DashboardFox securely to your database with a read-only database user account (DashboardFox is the only thing that ever communicates directly to your database, no user accounts are needed).
- Using the DashboardFox App Builder, reproduce the Entity Relationship Diagram in an application layer app (check out this video for more on this step).
- Start creating reports and dashboards without needing to write SQL code or know anything about the database schema
We skipped over some power features like creating data level security policies, users, and groups so that when your users start creating reports and dashboards they only see the data they are allowed to. Read more about that here.
You may be thinking that as easy as we make it sound, you still have no clue about a database schema or an ERD. You simply have an application in your business and you want to build some custom reports.
Here’s the good news. Our team is full of folks who know a lot about databases. We have over 21 years of experience working with database schemas and mapping them into DashboardFox Apps.
Some databases are well documented and very easy to map, others sometimes seem like they are written in a foreign language, but we’ve never met a database we couldn’t crack.
Our team is here to help you if you need it.
Get Started By Contacting Us
If you are interested in learning more and potentially unlocking the potential of your data, reach out to us. We won’t put you in a high-pressure sales cycle but instead, have a conversation to learn about your needs and share with you a technical solution (that’s priced to make business sense).
If DashboardFox seems like a good fit, we help you get a free trial going to test things out and hopefully convert you into a lifetime customer (we say lifetime, because with DashboardFox there are no annual subscription payments, pay once and use forever).