The Difference Between Operational and Analytical Data Systems

by Kayle Simpson, on May 31, 2016

Operational and Analytical Data Systems are both very similar in how they provide information on your organization, company, or non-profit, but the two are very structurally different, and provide different types of insights. That might seem a little confusing, so we're going to break down the differences between the two!

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Operational Data Systems

First up, Operational Data is exactly what it sounds like - data that is produced by your organization's day to day operations. Things like customer, inventory, and purchase data fall into this category. This type of data is pretty straightforward and will generally look the same for most organizations. If you want to know the most up to date information on something - you’re using Operational Data! Operational Data Systems support high-volume low-latency access, called Online Transactional Processing tables, or OLTP, where you want to create, read, update, or delete one piece of data at a time.

Analytical Data Systems

Analytical Data is a little more complex and will look different for different types of organizations; however, at it's core is an organization's Operational Data. Analytical Data is used to make business decisions, as opposed to recording the data from actual operational business processes. Examples include grouping customers for market segmentation or changes in purchase volume over time. Every organization will have different questions to answer and different decisions to make, so Analytical Data is definitely not one-size-fits-all by any stretch of the imagination! Analytical Data is best stored in a Data System designed for heavy aggregation, data mining, and ad hoc queries, called an Online Analytical Processing system, OLAP, or a Data Warehouse! 

To recap, Operational Data Systems, consisting largely of transactional data, are built for quicker updates. Analytical Data Systems, which are intended for decision making, are built for more efficient analysis. Hopefully now you have a better understanding of the difference between Operational and Analytical Data and their corresponding Data Systems! As you can see, both are very important for maintaining and growing an organization, business, or non-profit! 

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Topics:Data Science

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