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Zillow Case Solution
Zillow is a website that provides a listing of all properties that are available for rent or sale in the United States. Zillow’s entire business model is based on the accurate and timely collection of data and processing this data to create meaningful information for the website users. This information can be processed by using user-friendly graphic interface on the website. The key element on which the entire business model is based the processing of the data in real-time and according to the needs of the website users. The presence of a large user traffic enables the business to collaborate with mortgage lending companies while maintaining the anonomity of its website users. The problem for the business is to continue to grow its operations and to integrate its functions with mortgage lending companies.
Following questions are answered in this case study solution
Answers to Questions:
List the reasons Zillow would need to use a database to run its business?
Describe how Zillow uses business intelligence to create a unique product for its customers?
How could the marketing department at Zillow use a data mart to help with the release of a new product launch?
Categorize the five common characteristics of high-quality information and rank them in order of importance to Zillow?
Develop a list of some possible entities and attributes of Zillow’s mortgage database?
Access how Zillow uses a data-driven website to run its business?
Case Analysis for Zillow
The analysis of the case facts shows Zillow's entire business model is highly dependent on the database of the website. The business needs to strengthen its database to hold large amounts of data, as well as, acquire the processing power to convert that data into meaningful information for the customers (Baltzan, 2012). Also, the database needs to be scalable to adjust to the addition of the new dataset (Wigand, Mertens, & Bodendorf, 2012). The high dependency on the dataset of the website emanates from the fact that the business needs to maintain a directory of all available properties within the United States on its website. This data is continuously increasing and is likely to reach one million properties within a short span of time. Management of a continuously evolving database is much more complex in comparison to a static database (Bocij, Greasley, & Hickie, 2008).
Further, Zillow needs to change the prices of the properties regularly to match them with the changes in the market value of the properties. At the same time, all the previous values of the properties are to remain within the database (Wang, 2009). The reason for this requirement of maintaining historical values of the properties is that Zillow provides the functionality to graphically show the changes in the values of the properties over time. Thus, the strain on the database resources of the business will continue to increase which is a challenge for the IT personnel (Lucey, 2005).
The data should be retrieved from the servers within a short time because the business requires a functionality on the website to compare the features of the different properties that are available. Also, Zillow offers a search facility to its website. The users of the website can make a quick search of the properties that matches their criteria regarding location, number of the rooms, etc. Management Information System needs to be adopted by the business to fulfill these extensive needs of the website users (Martinez-Simarro, Devece, & Llopis-Albert, 2015). The business also needs to minimize the cost of the operation for a database that needs to be accurate, timely and consistent (Stair, Reynolds, & Chesney, 2008). Management Information System is highly relevant for the business since the database is the backbone of the business intelligence (Ogiela & Ogiela, 2014). Also, the analysis of the information and its retrieval from the databases cannot be performed without the adoption of business intelligence tools.
Zillow can leverage the existing strength of its business model by making use of a Database Management System. A Database Management System (DBMS) is a set of software that provides computer applications with storage and data management support through a high-level interface (Popovič, Hackney, Coelho, & Jaklič, 2014). A Database Management System possesses the ability to manipulate very large volumes of data in an efficient way by guaranteeing the durability and consistency of the information (Oz, 2009). Zillow must manage various sets of information about the properties listed on its website (such as addresses, monetary value, area, etc.
The structuring of the information via Database Management System will also make it possible to carry out very precise searches of information in the database (Stair, Reynolds, & Chesney, 2008). The database of Zillow must fulfill the following needs of the business model:
Provide easy access to data
Allow access to information to multiple users
Manipulate the data in the database (insertion, deletion, modification).
These requirements can be fulfilled by breaking down the database into three subsystems:
The file management system that allows the storage of the information on a physical medium
The internal DBMS that manages the scheduling of information
The external DBMS which represents the interface with the user (Martinez-Simarro, Devece, & Llopis-Albert, 2015)
Also, the mechanisms of the database management system will ensure the consistency, confidentiality and sustainability of the content of databases at Zillow. The software will refuse a user to modify or delete information if it has not been previously authorized (Wang, 2009). It will refuse a user to add information if it already exists in the database by subjecting the database to a rule of uniqueness (Wigand, Mertens, & Bodendorf, 2012). Even more importantly, adoption of this approach will enable the database to refuse to store information that does not follow the consistency rules – such as the rules of referential integrity in relational databases (Bocij, Greasley, & Hickie, 2008).
The database management system automatically adjusts the index at every change made to a database, and each transaction is recorded in a log content in the database, allowing to cancel or complete the same operation in case of a computer crash and thus ensure consistency of the content of the database (Lucey, 2005).
The rationale for recommending the adoption of a DataBase Management System for Zillow is to enhance the accuracy and timeliness of the company’s database. Adoption of this measure will help the business to register, retrieve, modify, sort, transform, or print information from the database (Oz, 2009). Implementation of a Database Management System will also make it possible to create reports of recorded information and to build mechanisms to ensure the consistency of the information (Baltzan, 2012). Zillow will be able to avoid loss of information due to breakdowns, to ensure the confidentiality of its user’s information and to integrate its database with those of the lenders (Baltzan, 2012).
The justification for this course of action also comes from the fact that database management system is a solution that supports requests from users as well as requests from other programs (Wang, 2009). By managing user requests, the DBMS ensures data integrity (ensures they are always available and consistently organized) and security (ensures that only those with privileges Access to the data). The relational database management system will be appropriate for Zillow owing to the type of the data managed by the website of the business (Martinez-Simarro, Devece, & Llopis-Albert, 2015).
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