Teradata: Service Evaluates Alignment of BI Infrastructure with Business Goals

Data Warehouse Maturity Assessment service helps enterprises maximize DW and BI investments.

Last week, NCR Corp. subsidiary Teradata unveiled a new assessment service designed to help companies maximize the potential of their data warehouse and business intelligence infrastructures.

Teradata’s new Data Warehouse Maturity Assessment service is notable for a couple of reasons, analysts say. First, of course, because Teradata certainly doesn’t lack credibility in the enterprise data warehousing space. After all, its software powers some of the largest data warehouses in the world.

Secondly, analysts say, the new offering is the second of a pair of recent initiatives in which Teradata has sought to court customers outside of its bread-and-butter high-end accounts. Last month, for example, the data warehousing giant announced a new partnership with ERP powerhouse SAP designed to promote Teradata as an SAP data warehouse solution for customers with high data volume requirements (see http://info.101com.com/default.asp?id=4982).

Teradata says the new service—which it plans to pitch to CIOs and other C-level decision-makers—exploits a custom scorecarding technology that uses 28 different metrics to evaluate how effectively a company’s core business intelligence infrastructure is aligned with its business goals. “We’re looking at all of the critical characteristics or the critical components that ensure that you’re getting maximum value from your data warehousing investments,” says Todd Higginson, director of Teradata Professional Services marketing. “The idea being that if one of these characteristics is not as mature as the others, it detracts from the value of the system as a whole.”

But why a maturity assessment? The short answer, Teradata officials say, is that an organization’s BI infrastructure may be experiencing growing pains as a result of unplanned development and a lack of coordination across different company departments and business units.

Teradata argues that department-level BI strategies largely evolved on an ad hoc basis over time, such that in any given organization, there exist disparate levels of BI sophistication instead of coordinated strategies that are aligned with company goals. After Teradata produces an assessment of an organization’s BI infrastructure, in which a company is grouped into any of six pre-defined maturity levels, it can identify ways in which that organization can standardize analytic capabilities on a company-wide basis.

“Another aspect of this is alignment of capabilities across organizational boundaries. For example, how does a CIO get a base level of competence across the enterprise if all of the individual departments have varying levels of maturity?” As Higginson explains, “So what they’re really going for is an understanding and standardization of their level of competency.”

Mike Schiff, a senior analyst with consultancy Current Analysis Inc., says that if anyone’s got enterprise data warehousing expertise, it’s Teradata. At the same time, he notes, the company isn’t exactly a disinterested participant in the maturity assessment process—a potential conflict that its competitors might exploit to attack the new service.

“[W]hile [Teradata] is both professional and ethical, competition will likely position the Maturity Assessment as being ‘less than fully objective’ and attempt to portray the service as a sales tool for convincing prospects to deploy a Teradata Warehouse,” he writes, suggesting that Teradata “should emphasize that a Data Warehouse Maturity Assessment is something that most organizations need to consider, independent of their existing hardware and database platforms.”

For his part, Teradata’s Higginson points out that the Maturity Assessment process is both technology- and vendor-neutral. “What becomes apparent when you look at the details of the scorecard is that it’s technology-neutral. In a very technical assessment, we could try to highlight specific feature/function gaps that Teradata could assess, but that’s not the level of this scorecard. This ranks how an organization prioritizes its BI investments, so there’s nothing vendor-specific about architectural governance, for example, nothing vendor-specific about any of these characteristics.”

Schiff says that Teradata has a professional services team with more than 1,400 people, all with an average of ten years of experience working with data warehouses. As such, he observes, “The company is well-qualified to help organizations assess their current environments and implement any suggested data warehousing solutions.”

The new service could be a boon for Teradata as well, Schiff says, if enterprise customers can get over the biggest initial hurdle—its price tag—and pony up the cash. “For many organizations, the Maturity Assessment may be the right service offering at the right time in the data warehouse lifecycle,” he concludes. “Most companies are well beyond their initial implementations and are looking to evaluate their overall data warehousing architectures.”

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.