Data models, buzz words in the information era, but what does this even mean? Data models represent the data in a business and how it relates to each other. Data are grouped based on similarities and put into tables that connect by keys. In Salesforce jargon, the Schema Builder function represents a data model; records are tables and keys are the fields.
In data, there need to be unique keys that allow a system to allocates rows/attributes to a primary piece of data. How these attributes link together determines how items are connected, usually a representation of an organization's business logic. Ultimately data models allow you to create relationships amongst variables and attributes to see how elements relate and affect each other.
Where does excel fit in this? Excel worksheets are tables and individual data that represent data that could be linked together by a database. Excel does not have the function to link data, that is where databases come in. Databases create the links of data, which gives software companies like Salesforce, to give a 360-degree view of a customer. Data architects and software developers design these links, usually, but in Excel, one has to manipulate data.
A question to ask yourself as a business, when designing your data model:
- What is customer information necessary to optimally do business?
- What are the steps our customers take during the pre-sale, sales processes, post sales and growth stages? What is it like for your company?
- What are the top 3 - 5 key pieces of information we need to serve our customers, execute our businesses processes and empower our employees? How do they relate to each other?
- What are the top 3 - 5 metrics that show we are successful?
These questions will start to facilitate how one kick starts the database processes. Once you have the data turn into information, what will you do with it? How does your decisions process change? Let me know; I'd love to learn how this worked for you.