The first project that I worked on, that I considered a ‘Million Dollar Project’ was my first full time database role, working for Briazz in 2000-2001. We had biweekly meetings with a team of about a dozen people for a year, and we were integrating data from about 7 different sources into one system. The design, or the pattern that we were working on was called an ‘Executive Information System’ and the primary goal was to bring all of the reporting into a single place that executive team could use to discover ways to make things more efficient.
It was an amazing project. Bringing data in from 6 or 7 other systems, and bringing the data into one place so that the executives could read the required information all in one place.
It was just about 15 months later that I was working on real Datamart schemas and I was studying the works of Ralph Kimball and Bill Inmon. If only I had discovered the wise words of those database revolutionaries in the 2000-2001 timeframe I would bet that company would still be around. Ralph Kimball is a proponent of building datamarts in order to upgrade your existing databases into a system that can keep track of changes over time. Ralph Kimball had more of an effect on my career than Bill Inmon, but I have still read the heck out of both authors and love some of the topics they have described. Things like ‘Slowly Changing Dimensions’ (which are probably the most complex of possible schemas in the database world) and then the ability to build sophisticated structures like the ‘Factless Fact Tables’ the discussion of those two authors could continue for ages.
Honestly if only I had started studying Datamarts and DataWarehosues a few years earlier, I repeat the assertion that Briazz might still be around. That company, named Briazz had an interesting business model and strategy. But we had unfortunately worked on an all out sprint to go through our Initial Public Offering during July and August of 2001. When the attacks happened on 9/11 and the Dotcom bubble burst we had no customers to sell our sandwiches to. The vacancy rates in the San Francisco areas that we were in reached 80% or higher almost overnight.