This paper has described some of the main characteristics of the multi-dimensional database structure, and provided an analysis of its effectiveness when compared to that of more traditional entity relationship database systems.
The paper concludes that multi-dimensional database systems are a complementary technology to entity relational systems, and in some circumstances it makes more sense to use relational tables rather than multi-dimensional arrays.
Where multi-dimensional systems excel over their relational system counterparts is in the area of data presentation and analysis, where the data in question lends itself to being suitable for multi-dimensional systems, such as where complex inter-relationships exist.
The top-level views of data over many combinations of dimensions make multi-dimensional systems particularly useful for trend analysis over time by management staff of organisations, due to the ease of viewing the data in a more naturally intuitive way.
Updated 2020 : note that this post was originally published in 2003, but is left here for archival purposes.