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1.2: Database Approach

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    The difficulties that arise from using the file-based system have prompted the development of a new approach in managing large amounts of organizational information called the database approach.

    Databases and database technology play an important role in most areas where computers are used, including business, education and medicine. To understand the fundamentals of database systems, we will start by introducing some basic concepts in this area.

    Role of databases in business

    Everybody uses a database in some way, even if it is just to store information about their friends and family. That data might be written down or stored in a computer by using a word-processing program or it could be saved in a spreadsheet. However, the best way to store data is by using database management software. This is a powerful software tool that allows you to store, manipulate and retrieve data in a variety of different ways.

    Most companies keep track of customer information by storing it in a database. This data may include customers, employees, products, orders or anything else that assists the business with its operations.

    The meaning of data

    Data are factual information such as measurements or statistics about objects and concepts. We use data for discussions or as part of a calculation. Data can be a person, a place, an event, an action or any one of a number of things. A single fact is an element of data, or a data element.

    If data are information and information is what we are in the business of working with, you can start to see where you might be storing it. Data can be stored in:

    • Filing cabinets
    • Spreadsheets
    • Folders
    • Ledgers
    • Lists
    • Piles of papers on your desk

    All of these items store information, and so too does a database. Because of the mechanical nature of databases, they have terrific power to manage and process the information they hold. This can make the information they house much more useful for your work.

    With this understanding of data, we can start to see how a tool with the capacity to store a collection of data and organize it, conduct a rapid search, retrieve and process, might make a difference to how we can use data. This book and the chapters that follow are all about managing information.

    Key Terms

    concurrency: the ability of the database to allow multiple users access to the same record without adversely affecting transaction processing

    data element: a single fact or piece of information

    data inconsistency: a situation where various copies of the same data are conflicting

    data isolation: a property that determines when and how changes made by one operation become visible to other concurrent users and systems

    data integrity: refers to the maintenance and assurance that the data in a database are correct and consistent

    data redundancy: a situation that occurs in a database when a field needs to be updated in more than one table

    database approach: allows the management of large amounts of organizational information

    database management software: a powerful software tool that allows you to store, manipulate and retrieve data in a variety of ways

    file-based system: an application program designed to manipulate data files

    1.2: Database Approach is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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