Why Think in Tables When You Can Think in Graphs?

I don’t know about you but my thought process has never been supplemented by tables, nor have I categorised my mental dwellings in tabular form. When I think, it has always been in a scattered web of interconnected thoughts that are related to one another. Think about it, when we gain new information, the first thing that we do is try relating it to old information that we have stored in our brains. Our brain acts as a database that stores, categorises, and connects information. 

Technology has always been designed with the end-user in mind. If this statement is true, why are we still depending on databases that are hard for us to interpret? 

Let’s face it, while relational databases (RDBMS) have been helpful for us in the past for data collection and categorisation; they were just not designed to fit the uses of today’s interconnected world. As the world continues to develop on its digital trajectory, organisations cannot afford to be held back by slow queries and incessantly complex JOINs. What they need is a solution that has the ability to adapt to the growing input of new data and create fast connections because this new world is all about understanding relationships. 

Not convinced? Let me give you a situational example that may further your understanding of the power of relationships. If I were to tell you that Mary bought a pair of earphones in July, that information alone would be irrelevant and insignificant. But if I connected her earphone purchases from the past year, a pattern emerges to show that Mary purchases earphones every two months. This understanding allows companies to gauge their customer interests making promotions and recommendations easier. It makes me question what she does to her earphones that she needs one every two months but, nonetheless, this way, businesses can push the promotion of better-quality earphones her way, which increases the chance of purchasing while making the customer happy with personalised recommendations. 

Benefits of a Graph Database

In the last article, I took you through the importance of connected data but here, we’ll be focusing more on how a graph database like the one provided by Neo4j can benefit you. 

  • Flexibility: We’ve talked about the rigidity of RDBMS before, so let’s take a look at the flip side, with the flexibility of a graph database. Due to the structure and schema of a graph data model, there is no need for your IT and Data Architecture teams to plan ahead for possible changes in your business. Instead, they can take their time and move at the pace your business needs, adding on to your existing structures without fully disrupting your current functionalities. In this scenario, you are the one that dictates the database and not the other way around, knocking off a significant burden to your teams.

  • Real-Time Updates and Queries: When you use your current traditional database, you’ve probably been frustrated at its lack of ability to handle the increasing amount of relationship queries that grows with your data. There is no need to worry about that with a graph database as it was designed to focus on relationships, so its performance is not diminished by the addition of more data. What’s even better is a graph database’s ability to update connections in real-time as you store your data while concurrently supporting queries. This allows for your business to get the necessary information without delays, as time is money. 

  • Agility: Your business is bound to expand, and with expansion comes the need to upgrade your applications and systems. Due to the flexibility of the graph database, as explained earlier, your IT teams have no need to worry about the implications of system development and maintenance as modern graph databases were devised to handle growth and maintenance gracefully.

The icing on the cake is that with Neo4j, the benefits of a graph database come with a low TCO and give you the ability to customise the capabilities that you require to fit your organisation’s needs. Behind you, you have the support of the most vibrant graph database community and learning tools to help your enterprise through its transformation journey. 

The capabilities of a graph database can go beyond what we’ve discussed in this short piece. It has limitless possibilities, from fighting fraud to providing real-time recommendations. If you want to learn more about the basics of graph databases, I suggest you head on over to Neo4j’s ‘Graph Databases For Dummies,’ a free e-book and stay tuned for more graph database articles that we have in store for you.

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