Database applications are software programs designed to collect, manage and disseminate information efficiently. Many home and small business owners create simple databases such as customer contact and mailing lists with easy to use software such as Microsoft "Access" and "FileMaker Pro." "Oracle," "SQL Server," and "FoxPro" are examples of advanced database applications with programming languages that can be used to build custom business solutions in networked environments.
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Database applications are used to search, sort, calculate, report and share information. Databases can also contain code to perform mathematical and statistical calculations on the data to support queries submitted by users. Database applications provide security by restricting access to data based upon user names and passwords. Most database applications are customized with a database programming language to automate specific types of work.
An accounting system is a custom database application used to manage financial data. Custom forms are used to record assets, liabilities, inventory and the transactions between customers and suppliers. The income statements, balance sheets, purchase orders and invoices generated are custom reports based upon information that is entered into the database. Accounting applications can run on a single computer suitable for a small business or in a networked shared environment to accommodate the needs of multiple departments and locations in larger organizations. "Microsoft Money," "Quicken," "QuickBooks" and "Peachtree" are accounting systems built upon database applications.
A customer relationship management system (CRM) is another example of a database application that has been customized to manage the marketing, sales, and support relationships between a business and it's customers. The ultimate goal is to maximize sales, minimize costs and foster strategic customer relationships. Simple contact management programs such as "ACT," or the task manager in Microsoft's "Outlook" can be customized to suit the needs of individuals and small businesses. "SAP," "Salesforce.com," and Oracle's "Siebel" are robust CRM database applications suitable for larger enterprises.
Many contemporary web sites are built using several database applications simultaneously as core components. Most retail store Web sites including "Bestbuy.com," and "Amazon.com" use database systems to store, update and present data about products for sale. These Web sites also combine an accounting database system to record sales transactions and a CRM database application to incorporate feedback and drive a positive customer experience. The popular Web-based "Facebook" application is essentially a database built upon the "MySQL" database system and is an indication of the increasing usage of database applications as foundations for Web-based applications.