SQL SERVER – SQL Basics: Data and Information in Businesses – Day 1 of 10

This is the 1st post out of my 10 post series of my 10th book – SQL Basics. Today will show the importance of data and information.

You can get that in Paperback (USA) and Kindle (Worldwide).

Databases in Business

Let’s take the movie industry for our first example. I was a young boy back in early 70-80s when the movie Star Wars hit the silver screen. Within a week the news agencies were talking about what a hit this movie appears to be. There were no numbers yet but evidence was mounting that things were good for Star Wars. Mostly the news cameras would drive by the theaters and see the long lines of people waiting to see Star Wars.

One news agency called the 30 theaters in the USA that showed Star Wars on its opening night to ask about the sales. The theater owners in 29 of the 30 theaters said it was a record weekend for them. OK we are starting to get some numbers now but how about the weekend box office total nationwide or even worldwide? Well after months of accounting the first week and first month’s totals were tallied and this movie would become the biggest hit of all time. It took a team of accountants with ledgers to eventually turn out these totals.

Based on the hit of the movie (and the memorable characters) a decision was made to start making toys and action figures based on the movie which were sure to be the hottest Christmas toys to hit the market. The only problem was the months it would take to design, approve, and test these toys meant they would be out in March of 1978. Had that decision to make these toys been made earlier there would have been millions of dollars’ worth of toy sales in 1977.

Contrast this example with the release of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” back in 2001. On the Monday morning after the weekend release the news agencies said this movie made 90 million in the opening weekend. When they announced this, the weekend had just ended a few hours ago. So how did this total come so fast? Did a team of accountants work in the early hours of the morning to make this happen? All these sales were rolled up into a database and with one single query a grand total was instantly available.

For centuries we have been collecting data. In 1977 and in 2001 we were collecting data. What has changed now is how fast we can get back our information. This means the reaction of the market to our products and marketing can be instantly known. These capabilities allow businesses to make decisions with that information.

Database Management Systems (DBMS)

Databases have been around since cavemen were drawing stick figures of their family’s on the rock walls. A database is a collection of related information. In the last 20 years what has improved greatly is we can get the information we need instantly from databases. For example if we ran a test promotion in Florida that we were thinking about running around the world we would want to know how well the promotion affected sales. In this case we want to compare the sales gains in Florida to all other areas. There may be millions of sales in Florida and billions of sales everywhere else. That is far too much data for a human ledger. We need a system that can both collect and pull out this information for us. SQL Server is a Database Management System (DBMS) that (if we know how to talk to it) will be our best business friend.

Data vs. Information

Remember that example of Harry Potter making 90 million in the opening weekend? Was that 90 million stored in the database? Actually there were many records of people paying 5-7 dollars but nowhere is there a record of 90 million. If we added the numbers together then we would see this 90 million tally. So, the 90 million was not really the stored data but the answer to a question about the stored data. This gets us to the definitions of data and information. Data is what is being stored in a database, such as raw numbers, text, or images. Information is what we look at and often build into business reports. In other words, information is data that is processed or structured in such a way as to have true value to the user. It’s useful for businesses to have the right information quickly, and SQL Server is a true master at turning data into information.

The power in the DBMS is when it is necessary to tabulate the weekend gross receipts for the latest weekend movie across the nation. We want to do this easily. Do we really want to ship all the ticket stubs from every box office across the country to a central accounting desk and then count the piles of receipts? No. Fortunately, the movie industry uses a DBMS so that by Monday morning it instantly knows the amount for the weekend gross receipts. This is the benefit of being able to turn data into information.

Action Item

Get the book for yourself and your friend. This is just a reference everyone must have it.

Available in Paperback (USA), Kindle (Worldwide) 

Reference: Pinal Dave (http://blog.sqlauthority.com)

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3 thoughts on “SQL SERVER – SQL Basics: Data and Information in Businesses – Day 1 of 10

  1. Pingback: SQL SERVER – SQL Basics Video: Data and Information in Businesses – SQL in Sixty Seconds #056 | Journey to SQL Authority with Pinal Dave

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