As a business, the data your company collects is one of the most valuable assets it owns, if you know what to do with it. It is crucial for your organisation to be able to consume and transform data to support business decisions. Databases are no longer just storage engines; they are now central to the business intelligence infrastructure of an organisation. The role of the database within the business environment is adapting to provide business intelligence functionality rather than acting as a storehouse alone. Servers are dynamic platforms, and when data is published and managed effectively it can provide valuable insight into how a company is performing.It is essential to understand that data on its own is not an asset. Most business decisions are based on the data held by an organisation, but they are made by people. Organisations need to ensure they have the ability to transform the data collected into a structure that users can interact with and understand. This will empower users to make knowledgeable business decisions and will provide companies with a competitive edge. Managed self-service business intelligence It is important that all company assets contribute to business intelligence, and with the technological advancements of databases, there is a real opportunity to gain competitive advantage. Newly developed technology is targeted at empowering users to be self-service when it comes to the analysing and reporting functions within the database infrastructure. It is important to look at the overall package when assessing the best form of platform for your business. Does the server provide integration, reporting and analysis tools as part of the data infrastructure? Does it communicate with other data sources and information assets within your organisation to create a self-service business intelligence environment? These are important questions companies need to ask in order to get the best solution. Many of the latest servers include a master data hub that controls the integration and matching of data within your company, regardless of the data system used to input and store it. As a result, all business intelligence assets are centralised, and by using a management dashboard, user-generated applications can be monitored so individual companies can enable more people to securely manage master data directly and ensure the integrity of information over time. The benefit of this selfserviced infrastructure is that organisations can align all data received, whether it comes from relational databases, multi-dimensional sources, cloud services, or data feeds from corporate networks or the internet. This alignment is essential – companies need to have the ability to compare and contrast all of their data in order to make astute business decisions. It is a good idea to confi rm this alignment software is available, so operational and analytical data can be aligned across systems, ensuring the integrity of information over time. This will give broader visibility of your company’s operations and performance. The self-serviced infrastructure also includes reporting and auditing features to help protect data and help your organisation meet compliance requirements. It allows for multi-access from multiple administrators, who can update the database at the same time. Administrators have full control over the database with the ability to lock down data as necessary. This can be determined down to an individual data row if required. As databases have business intelligence capabilities, interoperability between your server and other equipment is essential – it allows comprehensive management and monitoring of all business activities to provide a wide overview of company processes on a whole. For example, with a server platform that talks to surrounding software and hardware, there is less dependence on the IT department, as all staff have the ability to handle reporting quickly and easily. By making use of a complementary collaboration space, all staff have the ability to make solid business decisions based on data available to them, maximising their insight into and value to the business. Ensuring IT and developer efficiency Although it is important to empower end-users, it is equally important to ensure IT staff have the functionality they require for the smooth operation of company systems. Servers should eliminate the guesswork in deploying new applications by combining components of existing and new software, holding deployment requirements in a single package for more efficient, low-risk deployment. It is important servers have the ability to manage large multidatabase solutions, ensuring streamlined development and deployment of data-driven applications – something critical to the smooth operation of an organisation. Multiserver management provides companies with centralised visibility and control, streamlined consolidation and upgrade initiatives across all applications, as well as resource management to reduce server sprawl. Another crucial aspect to enable IT and developer efficiency is server size and hosting. It is important to choose a server that allows you to make the most of hardware innovations and computing technologies while also handling the large amounts of data you need it to without compromising on processing speed. Because most databases update in real time, it is essential that the handling and viewing of data can be undertaken without interrupting data processing. There is also the question of whether to invest in server and database infrastructure housed on site or hosted in the cloud. Often total cost of ownership can be an issue when making this decision, but an alternative to potential expensive infrastructure is cloud computing and hosted storage. Multi-net databases can be hosted in the cloud and are capable of offering business intelligence solutions to match an organisation’s needs, without developers needing to install, set up, patch or manage the software. This relieves the pressure on the IT team, and on your wallet. These days business intelligence is a huge focal point, and due to the changing role of databases, is becoming a necessity to ensure successful analysis of company operations. When looking to invest in a self-service data infrastructure it is important to ensure it has analysis, reporting and integration engines, as well as master data capabilities. The data your company collects is one of its most valuable assets as long as it is analysed correctly, and choosing the right platform will not only be benefi cial for housing this data; it will also ensure that business intelligence becomes more than just a buzzword within your organisation.