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Database software allows businesses to create and manage databases that make it easier to organize and search for information. These platforms protect the data and help make sure it’s consistent and accurate through backup and recovery, security management, and database communication. Database programs provide a structured form for the data, simplifying retrieval. A database software tool can also be referred to as a database management system (DBMS).
Most database tools use Structured Query Language (SQL), although they can be configured to use other programming languages. Database management software can store data in many different forms, including textual, numerical, binary, and timestamps.
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Database software can fall into several sub-categories depending on its use. For example, you wouldn’t want to analyze sensitive company data using a database program that’s shared with external users. Instead, you’ll want to pick a database program from the following categories that more closely fits your needs.
Companies use analytical database software to understand their performance. These programs extract data from a number of separate databases to assess different aspects of the business. Users can examine things like employee performance, financial growth, and the success of marketing campaigns.
Analytical database software is great for managing big data, offering quick query responses and the ability to search through multiple categories of data at once. Because the software doesn’t commit changes to the data within the databases, analytical database programs can process information much faster than operational database software. Organizations in highly-regulated industries need features like this because the analysis doesn’t obscure the audit trail.
Distributed database software manages a set of databases that are copied and dispersed across multiple locations and communicate via the internet. It’s thought to be the safest of the four types because there are so many redundancies built into the system. Each database is stored in a variety of different locations, including the cloud and company servers. The software controls the database stored in each of these locations and makes it easier to share data and ensure the accuracy of that data.
Distributed database software is similar to distributed ledger technology and is critical for financial institutions or other businesses who need a secure way to share data and ensure the integrity of that data. There is one master file, and the system periodically synchronizes the copies to match that master file.
External database software is used when companies need a variety of users to have access to information. It’s considered external because no one company actually owns everything on the database. Several organizations work together to build it, and sometimes they make it available to outside businesses for a subscription or licensing fee. This type of database management software is cloud-based, allowing users to view the data via the internet. External database programs are helpful for companies with many office locations that need to share data.
Members of a supply chain might use external database software to share information with the different organizations that make up that supply chain. They work together to build the database, and then each business can log in to view necessary data from the other companies. This improves efficiency among the supply chain because there are fewer delays hinging on communication.
Operational database software helps users modify data in real time, rather than just analyze it, and the databases in this system are usually separated by subject. This is helpful for financial and customer records, so users can make updates as soon as they happen. Companies might need an operational database program to update customer account status or mark invoices as paid.
Operational database software is about more than just collecting data; it actually helps run the daily operations for your business. Operational databases are overwritten frequently as the company makes sales or customers update information, and operational database software tracks these changes and displays them in real-time. CRM and ERP software are both examples of operational database programs.
While there are several different types of database management software, many of these tools will offer similar features.
Database programs integrate with many of the other tools your company uses and pulls data into customized dashboards. This makes it easier to access your data and keeps you from having to log into multiple tools to find what you’re looking for. Look for database tools that integrate directly with your current software or that offer an API to help you connect other apps.
You may need to have some coding knowledge to create databases within some types of database software. However, you don’t want your current developer to have to learn a completely new programming language to make that happen. Although the default is SQL, most database tools support a variety of programming languages, so you can choose the one that works best for your company.
When data needs to be shared across several different locations, database programs can replicate that information and make sure each different user has access to it. Although many users get access to the same data, only database administrators are able to change the data, ensuring the integrity of the information.
Work is more mobile than ever before, which means your data needs to be as well. Most database management software offers mobile access through mobile-friendly sites or applications, so you can access your data wherever you are. This is especially helpful for enabling your developers to make quick fixes, even when they aren’t in the office.
Database software offers many benefits for businesses of any size, including data security and redundancy.
With database management software, only the database administrators and department managers have full access to and control over the database. They are the only ones who can make changes to the database or grant access to other team members. Other users have restricted access to examine the data, but they can’t modify it. This improves the integrity of the data and makes tracking changes easier.
Within database programs, especially external and distributed database software, companies get multiple copies and backups of their data. The software automatically creates these backups and handles the recovery aspect if there’s an outage or a server goes down, restoring the database to its previous state. This eliminates some level of risk of human error because employees don’t have to remember to backup their data.
Database software improves team collaboration by allowing several members of a team to work with data simultaneously, although depending on their permissions, they may only be able to view the data. Most database programs can also give users different views of the data depending on what they need. For example, an email marketer might look for click and open rates from a drip campaign, while the marketing manager might look for the ROI of that same campaign. They’re both looking at the same data set, but they can prioritize the information they want the database to show them.
Not every company will use database management software in the same way. Let’s examine some of the ways companies in different industries might use their database tools.
Retail companies have data in many different places. They might have three or more social media accounts, email marketing, a CRM for their customer records, and a point-of-sale (POS) system. Rather than logging into each of these accounts to get their data, retailers can integrate these systems with their database program, automatically pulling all the data into one platform.
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Not only does this simplify the view of the data, but it also allows for cross-channel attribution, showing which lead sources perform best and where companies should focus their marketing budgets. The software also helps you find actionable insights within your data, helping you improve your customer journey and increase revenue.
Healthcare providers need secure databases that offer customizable dashboards and easy access for their team. Database software can keep healthcare providers compliant with HIPAA regulations while still giving them the data they need to improve their customer experience and attract new clients.
Database management software aggregates data from multiple sources and allows providers to customize reports based on their business needs. These tools also make it easier to share data with trusted and verified partner facilities and physicians.
Financial institutions use the data they collect to better tailor their offerings to their clients. Add in the need for secure software and regulatory compliance, and businesses in the finance industry can struggle to find a software solution that meets their needs. Database programs give them secure options that allow financial institutions to improve risk management, customer experience, and regulatory compliance.
Database software can help financial institutions optimize their balance sheets, automating risk decisions for better compliance. Additionally, some database tools offer artificial intelligence (AI) features that can converse with customers, reducing response times and improving customer service.
Database software organizes your data and brings it all into one manageable platform. There are several different types, making it easier to find one that best fits the needs of your business. There are even some tools geared towards specific industries.
When choosing the best database software for your organization, make sure you choose one that supports a programming language your in-house developers are comfortable with. Additionally, you’ll need to find a database program that integrates with the tools you currently use, so it can pull all of the data you need it to.