Enterprises have struggled long and hard to glean the meaningful data needed to make sound business decisions from the vast stores of information available in most corporate settings. Informatica Applications 5 provides a solid analytics platform that enables business managers to examine data across the enterprise and to make fast and accurate decisions.
The Informatica Corp. platform, although a tad pricey for some enterprises, provides a complete analytics solution that spans all three enterprise tiers. Rather than provide individual analytics applications for different business processes, Informatica combines multiple data sources with analytics capabilities that enable a cross-enterprise view. In this release, Informatica provides a new, browser-based end-user interface, which we found to be very well-thought-out and easy for nearly any user to understand.
On the back end, Informatica integrates with many data sources. An enterprise might use this support to combine information from an ERP system, such as SAP, with transactional data from a relational database, such as Oracle or IBM DB2.
Once Informatica is connected with back-end data sources, its analytic applications, which execute on the middle-tier, enable enterprises to examine metrics that reflect the status of all major business processes, including CRM, Web, operations, and supply chain. You can choose to use one or more of these four analytics applications, depending on your needs.
IT managers who may be considering the implementation of an enterprise analytics platform may well be concerned about how much time it will take to integrate the solution with data sources and how much effort will be needed to enable end-user access to corporate metrics.
We found that Informatica supplies the tools IT needs to roll out an analytics platform without a major time investment. For example, Informatica comes with more than 2,000 built-in data mappings to support back-end data sources. More than 600 metrics, 200 reports, and 20 analytics workflows are included in the solution.
We particularly liked the inclusion of data model diagrams for each of the analytics applications. The Erwin-based data model diagrams will help IT customize Informatica to specific enterprise requirements.
Informatica also provides multilayered security measures so that users see only the information they are authorized to view. At a physical layer, the analytics platform uses technologies such as SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption to ensure secure communication for distributed employees. Moreover, users are required to log in to use Informatica. The company provides its own authentication solution, but enterprises can also choose to use another, such as LDAP.
Finally, Informatica supports role-based security, which provides the appropriate metric views based on a user’s position within the enterprise. For example, we easily created a CFO role and granted it access to all financial-related metrics. We also set up a role for our test users in the marketing department, granting permissions to view CRM-related metrics. Administrators will find Informatica’s Web-based management interface concise and easy to navigate and use.
Once logged in, managers and other end-users will find useful metrics in the Informatica interface as well as the option for authorized users to define or modify metrics. The views provided within the Informatica interface can also be customized.
Informatica’s Customer Relationship Analytics application comes with several built-in modules, allowing you to analyse marketing activity, sales progress, or how customer service is doing. Combining Web Channel Analytics with Customer Relationship Analytics would allow you to examine customer behaviour in both online and offline settings.
A third application, Business Operations Analytics, provides executives with insight into enterprisewide processes, such as corporate financials and HR activity, helping them analyse accounts payable or receivable, examine overall profitability, or closely monitor corporate payroll, for example.
Finally, Informatica’s Supply Chain Analytics application allows managers to keep tabs on inventory levels, spending, and supplier activity. We found the metrics in all of these applications to be easy to use and to provide a wide range of analysis capabilities. We also had no trouble defining new metrics and adding different views.
Perhaps most compelling, Informatica Applications allowed us to combine metrics that reflected activity across the entire enterprise in a single view. This capability goes a long way toward giving enterprise managers a clearer understanding of the big picture.
Informatica Applications 5 is a well-constructed, well-thought-out, and fully equipped analytics platform that is enterprise-ready. Although its price will not appeal to everyone, its capabilities are well worth the investment.
THE BOTTOM LINE: DEPLOY
Informatica Applications 5
Business Case: This enterprisewide analytics solution will help management and staff members gain the upper hand on interpreting and responding to changes in business conditions as they occur.
Technology Case: The Informatica platform integrates easily with enterprise data sources, such as ERP systems and relational databases, while giving IT the administrative tools needed to roll out enterprise analytics capabilities in a minimal amount of time.
+ Supports integrated, cross-business process analysis
+ Easy to use and understand
+ Integrates with a wide variety of data sources
Cost: Starts at US$400,000
Platform(s): Server components: Unix, Windows; clients: Web, wireless, voice
Company: Informatica; http://www.informatica.com
Contributing Editor Magg