Making The Most Of Enterprise Intelligence

Re-Building Your Business Intelligence Quotient.

It's taken five years, but the corporate "powers that be" have begun torealize the value of all the data stored in miscellaneous databases on various computersystems throughout their enterprises. In the past, data warehousing vendors have marketedtheir value with such New Age slogans as "empowering the end user to make betterdecisions."

Or perhaps you heard the one about the 90-day data warehouse implemen-tation.

Yeah, right. Ninety months and $5 million later, corporate IT managers are stillscratching their disk drives over what was a triumph of hype over hope.

But a recent study by the META Group (Stamford, Conn.) indicates that "businessesof all sizes are proceeding at full speed to fund and deploy data warehouseapplications." And participants in META's study reported a doubling in the size ofdata warehouses and an increase of 150% in budgets.

What? Is this mere folly? Have CIOs and IT managers become deranged from cleansing andtransforming all that data?

Well, there's a new trend in IT town. And it's called Business Intelligence or BI. Anoxymoron, you say? Don't laugh. In fact, you had better think again. One could argue thatbusiness intelligence defines what it means to not only think, but climb outside of boththe hardware/software box and the hidebound box of corporate IT.

MINING YOUR OWN BUSINESS

HP, IBM, Oracle, NCR and Sun as well as many consulting companies are switching fromtalking and selling data warehousing technologies to selling and providing BusinessIntelligence solutions. "Business intelligence really covers the whole set from datawarehouse to the OLAP tools, data mining tools and the analytical applications," saysJohn Santaferraro, HP's Business Intelligence Marketing Manager.

Santaferraro points out that the nature of the questions IT managers are asking haschanged from, "How do I get my data out of the data jailhouse into a singlesubject-oriented database?" to, "What do I do with the data?" According toSantaferraro, there are three primary "answers": financial analysis, SupplyChain Management (SCM) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM).

All three provide a way to add value to your company. "The real value comes whenyou pull out all of your customer information from all of the operational systems."

Consequently, it's not surprising that online market researchers at World Research,Inc. (San Jose, Calif.) reported that business intelligence is the fastest growing segmentof the enterprise IT sector. While IBM seems to be a leading contender in the overall datawarehousing and business intelligence markets, HP's strategy (Santaferraro claims 1,000 HPdata warehousing installations) has concentrated on BI solutions for several verticalmarket segments: financial services, manufacturing, retail and telecommunications.

For example, in the telecommunications industry (HP's strongest vertical market),Santaferraro points to two solutions: a call behavior analysis solution and somethingcalled ACCESS7 Business Intelligence. "The call behavior analysis solution includesour own Extract, Transform and Load (ETL) technology.

Because telcos generally have a hard time handling call detail records, we built ourown ETL code into meaningful knowledge data models for wireline and wireless with a bunchof report templates." Santaferraro notes that it began as a project for BritishTelecom several years ago.

"On the other hand, ACCESS7 is the most complete business intelligence solution wehave," says Santaferraro. ACCESS7 is a component developed by HP's Test andMeasurement division to pull information off a telco network before it reaches a switch."It's a richer set of information. We have a data management component that takes itfrom the ACCESS7 device and loads it into an Oracle database."

HP customers GTE and Bell Atlantic, notes Santaferraro, can therefore use that richerdata set as a competitive advantage. For example, he notes those two companies can do"automated regulatory reporting and more detailed network analysis because they havestart and stop times and more accurate wholesale billing. They can also deliver on theirservice level agreements."

ERP INTELLIGENCE

Santaferraro sees another BI opportunity within the ERP market. Although it's ahorizontal segment, he notes that there's plenty of data now being captured inorganizations via SAP, Baan, PeopleSoft and other ERP applications. Built as traditionalOnline Transaction Processing (OLTP) systems, users now want to get access to all thattransactional data. That's why HP, in July, began offering a SAP BW Impact Analysisservice. HP also claims 5,000 SAP installations.

"Many SAP customers don't understand how SAP BW [SAP's own Business Intelligencetool] works," says Santaferraro. "So, we can come in and help them understandwhat it does [from a business standpoint] with BW out of the gate. We are also providingthe architecture that helps them figure out the next area of growth. And we are doing thatwith ESI (Oakland, Calif.), a consulting company specializing in SAPimplementations."

Partnerships with vendors such as ESI are part of a new HP initiative called"Expert Alliances." These alliances, according to Santaferraro will help HPprovide very targeted service offerings. But he notes that HP still plans to partner withsystem integrators such as Andersen Consulting. "We're transferring our knowledge[the impact analysis methodologies] to them and going out to our customers."

The first such "expert alliance" is with Tanning Technology Corp. (Denver,Colo.) providing what may be the industry's first data warehouse rescue service. Becausemany data warehouse projects are over budget, not on time, not meeting service levelrequirements or providing any business intelligence, HP and Tanning have joined forces to"do an assessment; and to put together a fast track project plan and implementationwithin three to six months."

But data warehousing and business intelligence is more than just about applications andpartnerships for HP. The two are instrumental to the success of HP's new E-servicesstrategy.

In short, it's about "using information to provide services," explainsSantaferraro. That leads to HP's "apps on tap" concept where an ERP application,for example, would be delivered over the Internet. "And the queries will be ontap," predicts Santaferraro. "It's not hard to see that almost every applicationhas a reporting element."

PORTAL POWER

The first step toward this kind of "e-intelligence" will be "creating asingle point of access and information delivery throughout an organization using portaltechnology," reveals Santaferraro.

"And portals are something that our installed base can begin implementing."HP is already forming partnerships with companies like Plumtree Software (San Francisco,Calif.), Viador, Inc. (San Mateo, Calif.) and VIT (Palo Alto, Calif.) to name a few."We're looking at additional value added opportunities that we'll be announcing inthe Fall to build our E-intelligence vision."