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The Weakest Link in Business

Data Structure and User Reality

Business Events and Mathematical Modeling

What is User Focused Data Architecture?
This article is excerpted from an appendix in the BEAM™ course. It is rather technical, and addresses some of the concerns that arise with those more familiar with mathematical forms of structuring data. Though it makes more sense after an introduction to BEAM principles, we reproduce it here for general information.

Departure from the tried-and-true method of normalizing data often makes people nervous, and for some reason. Classically, the only alternative to normalized (i.e. disciplined) data structure was "denormalized" (i.e. undisciplined) data structure. Denormalizing data reintroduces many of the problems that normalization was intended to solve, yet overly strict normalization brings problems of its own.

But where do business events fit into this? They don't look like classically normalized data, with it's relationship types and dependencies. When all is said and done, are they merely denormalized tables, sacrificing discipline and integrity for simplicity?

Fortunately, no. The linguistic basis for business events is every bit as disciplined as the mathematics that are the basis for normalization, so you're not sacrificing sound structure. Also, many of the structures familiar to normalization can be spotted in business event models, if you know what to look for.

The biggest differences between business events and classically normalized models are the focus of the model (subject-verb-object vs. columns), the manner of construc-tion (entire event vs. fact-at-a-time), and the terminology. Let's look at a sample situation, how it would look in a classically normalized model, and how that contains the framework for a business event representation.