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April 12, 2022

Operational Data Store in Cloud and Its Main Benefits

An operational data store is a central database or repository for up-to-date information collected in its original format and in real-time from multiple sources. The various types of information collected from multiple sources are replicated into a single destination in the cloud for easier accessibility and business reporting.

As you set up the ODS, incorporate a tool for data extraction and loading to manage the replication into the cloud destination. Most of these tools come with the transformation function to complete the ETL (extract, transform, load) process that you can discard if you need your data replicated in its original format. So how does ODS work, and what are its benefits?

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How ODS works

As is common with all business systems, the early operational data stores were domiciled on-site. With changing trends and increased online transactions, most businesses are adopting digital transformation and implementing cloud-based next-generation ODS systems. However, what is ODS, and how does it work, whether on-site or cloud-based?

As indicated elsewhere in the article, ODS is a destination repository where information is stored for consumption by all departments in an organization. The ODS systems collect raw data and maintain it as is in its original format while overwriting the old with the new in a continuous process. However, the ODS can be configured for the ETL process to extract, transform, and load onto a corresponding data warehouse.

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By its architecture, ODS is transient and is only useful for collecting and consolidating multiple types of operational information from across the departments for immediate management decisions. This means ODS provides an intermediate holding platform for data in transition from sources to the data warehouse. Notable stages in this process include,

Collection at sources

businesses have primary data collection platforms working, usually independent of each other. This creates a limitation for a CEO who wants to have a consolidated bird’s eye view of the company’s performance. However, these platforms that include CRMs and ERPs help to generate vital raw data at the source that may require consolidation in a destination store for easier access. These independent platforms form the first stage in the ODS process.

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ETL processing

The next stage involves the extraction of the raw data from the primary platforms into the operational data store. Here the data is consolidated and presented for use as-is on the platform while it is also transformed for transition to the data warehouse. While at the ODS, the consolidated data is disseminated to all other enterprise tools such as BI and OI dashboards for end-user access. The centralization of information in a single destination store enhances cross-departmental collaboration and digitalization in the manufacturing sector.

Transition to the data warehouse

Replicating and transforming data for loading onto the data warehouse is the final stage in the functions of the ODS. As a rule, ODS overwrites new information on the old due to its space limitations. Therefore, information is replicated for more permanent storage in the data warehouse for archiving, reporting, and historical analysis.

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Benefits of the operational data store

The operational data store is essential in today’s data-driven business environment, especially in the making of emergency decisions for operational processes. With vast volumes of data coming in from multiple sources and all of it important for business decisions, having a centralized point for integration is vital. Here is a look at some of the benefits ODS brings to an organization.

Data integration

Now, ODS is structured to store only the recent information for brief periods while loading the rest of it to the data warehouse. While that may not appear helpful to business executives, ODS provides one other advantage in that short period that is critical to emergency decisions made on the fly. That all critical advantage is the integration of data from multiple but interdependent sources for easier, faster analysis and action. Further to this, cloud-based ODS integrates and feeds this information onto operational business intelligence (OI) and business intelligence (BI) dashboards for real-time analysis and response.

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Comprehensive reporting

Cloud-based ODS provides a more focused and sanitized report on operational data that has more actionable insights than what is available from the primary sources. ODS achieves this by its capability to integrate data from multiple sources in the same organization and distill a more refined overview for management decision-making.

Such refined reports help to enhance productivity on factory lines and reduce costly downtimes by preempting problems early. The sales teams also get more accurate reports from the field on product performance, consumer behavioral traits, and market trends, all integrated into one portal for easier analysis.

Instant operational status

With the ODS tool, every worker in an organization can quickly access and check the system for the current status of whatever they are doing or need. Equally useful for those working on the front end, representatives can track the status of a customer’s order more easily through the different departments until delivery. The payments office can also keep track of inventory and outstanding invoices from a centralized location that displays due dates.

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Automatic alerts

In every business, some processes are time-sensitive and can be costly if not attended to within the provided timelines. The ODS can be configured to isolate such processes and raise alerts in time for action to avoid penalties or downtimes in the case of plant maintenance. The resultant aggregated automation enhances efficiency and provides both predictive and preventive benefits to the business.

Secure data sharing

Businesses usually restrict general access to their database, and yet these systems contain crucial information that workers across departments require to optimize operations. This restriction is not without basis, though, as businesses fear data leaks through unfettered access. However, for workers to share critical analytics, a way must be found to facilitate secure access to operational data.

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Cloud-based ODS systems provide just the right solution for data security and enhanced sharing between workers in collaborating departments. After collecting data from the primary sources, ODS integrates and disseminates to various applications used by workers across the enterprise. This secure platform helps to protect the integrity of the data governance systems while making crucial information available to end-users.


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