Computers have been used to analyze data to improve decision-making since the dawn of the computer age. As storage prices dropped during the 1980s, huge repositories of data became economically viable, and organizations built larger data sets and developed more sophisticated databases and data management techniques. In the early 1990s, many Chief Information Officers experimented with relational databases, and their testing of pre-computed data tables showed promising results in improving the effectiveness and convenience of decision support. One challenge they faced was the complexity of the techniques and the paucity of data on what works and what does not. The term “data warehousing” became a popular label for big data and the techniques for processing it.
By the mid-1990s, data warehousing conferences were increasingly common. Unfortunately, those conferences primarily involved software and consulting vendors giving sales pitches. What was missing was analysis and discussion of the means by which data warehousing users could share their experiences, including both successes and failures.
Believing user case studies were of greater educational and business value than promotional pitches, the CIO Institute created a membership organization in 1995 called The Data Warehousing Institute (TDWI) for the express purpose of sharing those lessons learned. When TDWI began hosting annual conferences featuring data warehousing users sharing their stories, the response was overwhelming. Within two years, TDWI’s educational conferences accounted for more than 95 percent of attendance at all data warehousing conferences.
TDWI published its first “What Works” booklet in 2005, and also published a quarterly journal that reported on advances in data warehousing techniques, and it has supported publication of two of the earliest books on the discipline, Planning and Designing the Data Warehouse and Building, Using, and Managing the Data Warehouse. In addition, TDWI has trained more than 40,000 technical professionals, and its research programs have led to numerous advancements in the field.
TDWI’s laser focus on sharing user experiences has enabled it to continue to operate for more than 25 years under the able stewardship of 1105 Media, a publishing and conference organizing firm. For more information, visit tdwi.org.