What is Database Management? - How Databases Help Organizations

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  • 0:05 Organizations Use Data
  • 0:42 Library Example
  • 4:22 Benefits of Database…
  • 4:55 Other Examples
  • 6:13 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Paul Zandbergen

Paul has a PhD from the University of British Columbia and has taught Geographic Information Systems, statistics and computer programming for 15 years.

Organizations use large amounts of data. Database management makes it possible to organize and analyze these data. Learn why database management is important to support business operations.

Organizations Use Data

Organizations use large amounts of data. These data can be related to the people who work for the organization, its products or services, the customers or any other aspect of the operations of the organization. The data need to be organized in a way that supports decision-making. The most common data types are text and numbers, but data can also include images, photographs, sound, video and other types. Data are organized in a database.

Library Example

Let's consider an example of how databases are used. Think of a public library. A library contains books, magazines, CDs, DVDs and other materials. All these materials need to be catalogued so we know what is available in the library. For each item, the catalog would describe things like the type of item, the title, the authors, the publishers and other relevant details. The catalog also needs to be searchable, so the librarian typically assigns some keywords to each item. The library catalog is a type of database.

Once we have a catalog, we also need to have a way for users to check out the materials. Users need to be able to register, get a library card and use this card to check out the materials they want to take home. So the library needs a database of users. This would include the user's name, address, telephone number, e-mail and age. With a catalog of materials and a user database, the library can start operating. What is needed to support the day-to-day operations is a system to keep track of which materials each user checks out and when they get returned. This system needs to be linked to the catalog and the user database.

Now consider how you actually use the library and what decisions are being made. You go to the library and want to learn something about the theory of evolution. The first thing you probably do is go to a computer terminal and search the catalog with a keyword like 'evolution theory.' You browse through the results to see which books might be most useful. Once you have found a few titles, you can check to make sure they are not already checked out.

You find the materials you are interested in on the shelves and take them to the checkout counter. The staff at the counter scans your library card to make sure your account is in good standing. If you have books overdue, the staff member will be quick to remind you. Then the materials you want to check out are scanned, and the staff member will make sure you don't exceed any limits set by the library - such as a maximum of three music CDs.

You take your materials home, and a week later you get a reminder e-mail that your music CDs are due, since you can only keep them for a week. You return the music CDs but keep the books for now. Two weeks later, you get a reminder your books are due. You are not quite done reading them, so you log on to the library's website and renew the books online. A few weeks later, you return the books.

Throughout these steps, you have used the library system in several ways:

  • The catalog terminals at the library
  • The checkout counters
  • The e-mail notification system, and
  • The online renewal system

All of this is possible because of the database systems maintained by the library.

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