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Data Warehousing Specialists

The Job

According to IBM, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created every day. These massive collections of data, which are known as Big Data, consist of texts, videos, photographs, maps, electronic medical records, scientific information from sensors, purchase transaction records, cell phone GPS signals, articles and books, blog posts, bank records, census and other survey data, and other types of data.

Big data is used by businesses, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations, and data warehousing specialists design, develop, and maintain data warehouses to store data and allow it to be used for a wide range of applications. The management consulting firm Bain & Company reports that “early adopters of Big Data analytics have gained a significant lead over the rest of the corporate world…those with the most advanced analytics capabilities are outperforming competitors by wide margins.”

Job responsibilities vary for data warehousing specialists depending on their employer, job title, and other factors, but most perform the following duties:

  • design, develop, and maintain data warehouses, user interfaces, and data mart systems (sub-areas of a data warehouse that contain all the information stored on a particular topic such as business operations in a particular country, climate statistics and research from a particular decade, or photographs and biographical information for suspected terrorists living in Kazakhstan)
  • work with database architects and developers during the design process to ensure that the proposed design is in agreement with organizational strategies and existing data systems
  • develop data warehouse process models, including sourcing, loading, and transformation
  • develop and implement data extraction procedures from legacy or other systems, including creating a master data dictionary (which IBM defines as a "centralized repository of information about data such as meaning, relationships to other data, origin, usage, and format”)
  • prepare technical or functional documentation for data warehouses
  • troubleshoot and address and technical problems that arise relating to data warehouses
  • develop strategies to integrate data from their employer’s or client’s databases into the data warehouse
  • collect and analyze data to find useful relationships or patterns (known as data mining)
  • teach employees how to use the data warehouse and related data systems
  • monitor the data warehouse to ensure it is functioning properly and security systems are working
  • liaise with vendors on issues such as upgrades and technical problems and solutions