7 Reasons You Need a Database Management System
The philosopher Aristotle did not have a database management system (DBMS) – not electronic, anyway. But he believed in the importance of differentiating and analyzing data. In his book “Categories”, he presented 10 ways to describe a thing.
These included: quantity, quality, place, time, position and action.
He was ready to put data together, determine their interrelationships and draw conclusions. Such a penchant for classification—which Aristotle applied, among other things, to biology—was a driving force in creating the analytical mindset for all of Western civilization.
He believed that how we approach data matters.
While the ancient Greeks surprisingly seem to have calculated astronomical data with incredible analog computers, such as the Antikythera Mechanism, we don’t know of any who stored or analyzed data.
But if it were possible, the ancients might have been happy to employ a DBMS to put their good thinking to good use. (Also read: Database management systems: is the future really in the cloud?)
There are many reasons to support the idea that you too could use a good DBMS in your life and work.
1. A database management system is an extension of human logic
You might wonder why I refer to philosophy and biology in an article about databases for technical professionals. Well, as much as we love digital machines and what they can do for our lives, we haven’t merged with them yet.
And the computing powers that we, as flesh-and-blood data technicians, give our computers are just an extension of the reasoning power of the human intellect. The database you create to manage human knowledge will improve your abilities to correlate, query, and report information collected from your organization.
Running your business with a well-developed DBMS is the logical thing to do.
2. Computers can answer many questions quickly
Susan: “John, can I have your email address, please?”
John: “Sure, it’s [email protected]”
Meanwhile, John is a little irritated that this is the fifteenth time he’s been asked for his email address in his first week on the job. John is shocked to learn that there is no central database where he works, and everyone seems to have developed their own spreadsheets with varying levels of precision and completeness.
Even simple data collections like a master contact list or a database table are sometimes overlooked by organizations in a rush to put out fires and be considered productive.
The cumulative waste of time across the organization by individuals seeking such information could be quite surprising. But a centralized database, easily accessible by everyone, can provide quick answers to questions that are surprisingly similar to the categories of our ancient analytical philosopher.
- How many units were sold last quarter?
- In what colors is the product available?
- Where is the conference taking place this year?
- What time is the client meeting next week?
- What actions are needed to achieve our goals?
3. Some questions can be really complicated
Being able to dig deeper into data and uncover insights is driving such innovative ideas as data mining and analytics. But conventional databases have been answering complex questions for decades. You may want to know how many employees are qualified in a certain area.
A simple query on a spreadsheet or searching for data in a directory can easily provide the information you need. But what if you only need to locate qualified employees from a certain state who have five years of experience, are ready to relocate, and speak a certain foreign language? To query data based on multiple criteria, you need a database management system.
The more complex the query, the more robust your DBMS will need to be. A good system tells you everything you need to know with just a few mouse clicks.
4. We are easily overwhelmed with information
Keeping it simple is a good idea in all areas of life. No one wants to get bogged down with unnecessary demands or extra tasks. But a good database usually has a simple interface that is intuitively understood by the user. And it structures the data in such a way that we humans can grasp it without too much difficulty.
While data terminology and concepts may be specific to the user’s core competency, the user experience itself allows for a focus on data rather than the intricacies of database links and forms. data.
A well-organized database makes it easier to manage a large treasure trove of information and gives the user only what he needs at that moment to do his job better.
5. Automation is the key to efficiency
Normally, you turn to automation to do repetitive tasks that would take you a lot longer by hand. ENIAC created firing tables for military planners in minutes compared to weeks required for human labor on a similar task. Charles Babbage called for a steam-powered solution for calculating navigation charts.
You rely on your personal computer to handle menial tasks that might have been time-consuming and labor-intensive for previous generations. (For more on Babbage, see The Analytical Engine: A Look Back at Babbage’s Timeless Designs.)
Compiling a wide range of inventories or other similar information and making it available for queries and reports is a necessity in today’s business world. A quick search of the Google database yields almost instant results based on analysis of perhaps millions of sources.
As your data collection grows, you’ll need more sophisticated automatic processes to find the level of efficiency you want for your business.
The exception to this might be when it would actually take longer to create the automated process than to perform the manual operation itself. It’s quite easy to get caught up in the development of a digital tool to the point of becoming really overkill.
Suppose in the time it takes you to develop this killer app, the old-school admin who manages office supplies could have kicked it off and gone home for dinner. A DBMS is a tool that must be used over the long term.
6. A DBMS is better than manual processes in many ways
Data environments are composed of data, hardware, software, people and procedures. The benefits of using databases have been embraced by many people and can be associated with particular DBMS features.
For example, while Excel spreadsheets and Access databases are typically operated by a single person, true database management systems allow simultaneous access by multiple users.
A database is a single software application that can use many tables, forms, and reports, rather than a plethora of spreadsheets owned and managed by people across the organization.
A good database is a one-stop shop for bringing people and processes together. It even provides for such mundane things as spelling and syntax consistency and eliminating so much duplicate effort. (For more on spreadsheets, see How Spreadsheets Changed the World: A Short History of the PC Era.)
7. Earning and saving money interests you, doesn’t it?
We should all be happy to see how database management systems can improve our lives and our work. But a big part of business activity is about making more money or reducing excessive working hours in pursuit of particular goals.
The efficiencies generated by your DBMS are likely worth the time, money, and effort spent on completing the database.
Sound logic is useful for all facets of life. It is also an integral part of database management. Although you may be more inclined to work on your own DBMS after reading this article, there is a corollary to the statement that you need a database management system. You also need a good database designer.
This is someone who can sit down with pen and paper and sketch diagrams showing the ideal flow of data and the best ways to enter, capture, analyze and report information. After all these years, we still need categories and classifications to properly analyze data. Good database experts make good databases.
Life is complicated. Sometimes you need all the help you can get to find the right approach to the data you face every day.
You need a database management system.