Firms using BI at the frontlines


Business intelligence (BI) is becoming more critical to decision-making across the enterprise, according to an executive survey by Teradata.

A division of NCR Corp., Dayton, Ohio-based Teradata is a vendor of enterprise data warehousing software.

Releasing the results of the study at its annual Partners conference held in Orlando, Fla. this week, Teradata’s vice-president and chief marketing officer, Bob Fair, said 41 per cent of firms polled were using BI to make more than half the decisions in the company.

That is an indication that BI-enabled decision-making is being pushed deeper into the enterprise, out to the frontlines for day-to-day decisions, he notes. “BI is becoming deeply ingrained in the company. To me it’s a staggering fact.”

Businesses are using BI tools, not just to predict revenues, but also to better understand the impact of their customer service programs. That’s a trend away from focusing on just the bottom line and more on the factors that lead to poor profitability.

“Executives are realizing the better they are able to analyze customer service data, the better differentiated they’ll be,” said Fair.

As companies dealt with business expansion, greater value was being placed on unstructured data, and 69 per cent of respondents viewed such data as competitive advantage, he noted.

Fair said items such as call centre notes and other forms of customer feedback could be used to identify and solve problems early in the process. The challenge was converting unstructured data to structured data and integrating it into the data warehouse. “If I can detect a trend or pattern early, it is worth millions or potentially billions of dollars,” he said.

According to one BI expert, the trend today is towards intelligent process automation, a concept that brings together sense and respond capabilities, with the automation of exception handling, and removes the human factor from repeatable processes.

“The most productive people in the organization are those able to use available information well to make decisions,” said Henry Morris, group vice-president at market research firm IDC’s integration, development, and application strategies group. He said their example needed to be replicated.

Teradata also used the Partners conference to release an enhanced version of its Teradata database running on the 64-bit version of Novell’s SUSE Linux Enterprise. Scott Gnau, vice-president of research and development with Teradata, said the company was committed to bringing open standards to its stack.

“It gives our customers some additional choice and options when fitting into a standards-based enterprise,” said Gnau, emphasizing all the functionality and capability of the original platform is available in the Linux version. “Teradata is Teradata; the value that can be delivered is exactly the same.”

Gnau also announced a beta version of Teradata’s Warehouse 8.2 offering was now available, with the final release scheduled for the fourth quarter.


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