Heavy hitters give ‘smart’ tech a go

Faced with “doing more with less”, many Australian organizations are investing millions of dollars in business intelligence (BI) technology to a gain competitive advantage.

Australian IT managers are also rating BI technology as a high priority on their hit list for this year, in an effort to consolidate databases and data marts, according to Stephen Brobst, chief technology officer (CTO), Teradata, a division of NCR Corp.

Brobst said Australia’s finance industry has “led the world in the use of BI”, and is using it aggressively with the likes of National Australia Bank, Westpac and Commonwealth Bank, currently undertaking BI-related initiatives.

However, until recently Brobst said Australian retailers have noticeably lagged in adoption of BI due to the “lack of competition in the Australian retailer marketplace”.

“With Coles Myer gaining something like 28 cents out of every dollar spent in Australia, it didn’t have to worry about competitive advantage, but now, with other players in the market, it has to be more aggressive in the use of its technology and BI,” Brobst said.

Brobst said it’s logical to say that Coles’ recent appointment of its new CIO who came from a Belgium company and was a keen user of BI, will have an impact. Australian IT managers are also expressing interest in “real-time enterprise”, being able to make better decisions more quickly, and demand change management technologies, for virtual integration of suppliers.

Cost containment is another big issue of concern to Australian organizations, with companies spending about A$1.5 million (US$920,000) a year to manage datamarts, he said.

“Some organisations have dozens of separate databases for each department, and it’s a big cost to manage so many databases enterprise-wide,” Brobst said.

He said NAB has set the worldwide standard on analytic customer management, and has done “a tremendous job”. When implementing BI solutions, Brobst said taking a phased approach is an effective self-funding model for CIOs and IT managers who don’t have much to spend these days; the return on investment of the first phase pays off the second phase and so on. Brobst said local Teradata customers are in various stages of testing its latest offering, Teradata Warehouse 7.0.

Westpac Banking Corporation recently signed a multimillion-dollar, three-year contract, including 12-month agreement for professional services, with Teradata, for an analytical CRM system.

Michael Coomer, group executive for business and technology solutions and services, Westpac, said the initiative will assist Westpac in building leading-practice customer management, sales and service capability.

Fernando Ricardo, program leader for Westpac’s CRM initiative, said the “ability to draw together customer information from numerous data marts provides a single view of the customer and is crucial to making sound business decisions and analytical marketing”.