"Data warehousing is taking the information industry by storm and
is now poised to transform it." That's the word from Ramon Barquin, author
of Planning and Designing the Data Warehouse.
But what is data warehousing? Quite simply, it's the process of gathering
all of a company's data (from sales and customer information, for example)
and putting it in one place -- a data warehouse.
Data warehousing organizes the data in a way that lets people use it to
find answers to questions like, "What kind of person buys this product?" or,
"How did our sales change with that last promotion?" or, "How did our sales
to certain customers change when we moved a product to a different area of
That's where data warehousing consultants come into the equation.
"Data warehousing consultants fall into different ranges," says John Schuster,
a Phoenix-based consultant who has worked with computers for 25 years and
data warehouses for the last 10.
"First there are the people who build warehouses," he says. "These people
are called warehouse architects or data modelers. Architects, some of whom
are consultants, need to know data transformation and data loading skills
and they need to have enough business sense to be able to talk to both computer
users and business managers."
Data warehouse consultants also use warehouses to help businesses target
"These consultants are known as business intelligence consultants," Schuster
explains. "They generally need to know how to use decision-support tools and
have a very good knowledge of data mining."
Data mining and other business intelligence tools allow the experts to
view the data from far more views than ever before.
So, where do you learn this type of stuff? Schuster says that in the U.S.,
at the bare minimum, you shouldn't consider going into battle without a bachelor's
degree in computer science and about five years of experience in the field.
"Some guys can get away without one [a degree], but they have a ton of
practical on-the-job experience and a long list of happy references," says
But Schuster recommends the university degree and the following kernel
of advice: "Learn tools," he says emphatically. "Take your time and learn
data-modeling tools so you can show some fluency in what you're doing. Just
be five minutes ahead of everyone else."
Mention the pay and Schuster's voice gets a little giddy.
"A middle-of-the-road consultant can get anywhere from $200 to $300 per
hour," he chuckles. And when asked what a high-end consultant earns, he offers
a conservative guess. "I'd say a project manager with expertise would be up
around $400 an hour."
Even a low-end data warehousing consultant, according to Schuster, can
earn between $70 and $200 an hour, which isn't exactly chump change.
"With the continuing growth of the data warehousing market, we expect companies
will naturally evolve into adding a data mining component to their warehouses,"
says John Shoesmith. He is a software research manager with the International
Data Corp. He adds that data warehousing consultants offer the best skills
to run data mining solutions.
Optimism for the field abounds. Just ask data warehousing consultant Sid
Adelman of the California-based firm Adelman and Associates. "Data warehousing
has no end in sight," he says. "It's a project that keeps going and going,
because you're always getting new users."
What is Data Warehousing?
A simple definition
Data Warehousing Information Center
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