At first glance, OLAP tools may seem confusing. Not only does the acronym make OLAP tools sound mysterious, descriptions such as “online analytical processing” and the ability “to analyze different dimensions of multidimensional data” may leave you scratching your head. OLAP tools have complex systems running in the background serving as the middleman between the OLAP server, the database, and the software you are using to analyze the data. OLAP tools are data visualization tools that allow you to “see” the data in a more intuitive manner.
For example, if you were interested in finding out if a link exists between racial intolerance and economic freedom, you’d need to amass a great deal of country-specific socio-economic data. While you could view raw data and ultimately draw your conclusions, data visualization tools allow you to more easily interpret it. Using OLAP tools, you could plot economic freedom data on a color-coded world map to classify the countries or regions of the world according to their economic freedom ratings. You could do the same with racial intolerance levels. Once your data is plotted, you’ll be better able to “see” the data.
Because OLAP tools are used for analyzing different dimensions of multidimensional data, your experiment doesn’t need to end with your two world maps. OLAP tools allow for looking at the data in many different views. Perhaps you’d prefer to look at a scatter chart or maybe you want to drill down into a specific country. You can even add data visualizations for GDP per capital or filter results based on population.
This is but one example of what OLAP tools can do. No matter what type of data you work with, data visualization tools can help you make sense of it. Whether you need to know how hurricane season affects shipping times or which cities are the most profitable markets for widgets, data visualization tools can help you to examine the data in a highly visual manner. It can also help you communicate your findings to your colleagues. How will you put OLAP tools to work in your business?