Seize control of your data

Corporations have been accumulating data at a breakneck clip. And since the dawn of the computer age, IT organizations have sought ways to take advantage of these huge data stores to improve sales, manufacturing, marketing and virtually every other piece of the organization.

Through the years, IT managers have utilized a variety of database technologies to improve the process of storing and accessing specific data. But as multiple databases were installed, accessing all of the data needed for specific projects became impossible. Each database was an island unto itself, unable to use data stored in another system.

Potential solutions have included executive information systems (EIS), decision support systems (DSS) and, finally, data warehousing and technologies such as online analytical processing (OLAP), balanced scorecard, Web personalization, customer relationship management (CRM) and meta data standardization. Without the ability to take advantage of the data compiled from customers, suppliers, distributors and the like, an organization can quickly lose out to competitors that have moved quickly to build or install systems.As we see in this month's Special Report on decision processing, while building such systems isn't easy, it can mean the difference between success and failure.

Our Special Report features data warehousing gurus Colin White and Julie Hahnke who, along with Managing Editor Jack Vaughan, look at some of the emerging solutions that seek to solve some of the problems - such as corrupt or dirty data - that have prevented data warehousing from meeting its expectations.

White, founder of DataBase Associates International Inc., looks at how IT development organizations can start building decision processing systems that can quickly analyze business information captured from corporate operational systems. White concedes that the process is not simple, as it requires some internal development and tools acquired from multiple suppliers. IT buyers are unlikely to find an integrated system that can support all of their requirements.

In addition, White touches on the federated data warehouse model, which supports the iterative development of a data warehousing system that incorporates data marts.

Hahnke, president of IDTech, examines the hottest piece of decision processing today, CRM, which promises to help corporations better understand and service customers. The CRM phenomenon has spawned a slew of products that promise to resolve any conflict between company and customer. Hahnke maintains that these tools can help, but IT units must also recognize that fixing the problem requires more than software.

Best Regards, Michael W. Bucken

About the Author

Mike Bucken is former Editor-in-Chief of Application Development Trends magazine.