Choices confront transactional apps buyers

Companies running transactional applications, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, face a choice when it comes to data warehousing solutions incorporating data mining.

They will have to choose between "proprietary" data warehousing solutions ERP vendors offer, and analytic applications from independent vendors such as SAS Institute, according to Henry Morris, research vice president, data warehousing and applications, IDC.

"I think there are a number of ERP-centric buyers who will look to ERP vendors to offer (analytic solutions)," Morris said, explaining that such buyers would tend to view data warehousing as "an appendage" to such a system.

Other buyers of data warehousing solutions will want analytic application-centric, and seek application independent data warehousing solutions, Morris said.

Speaking at SAS Institute's European user group conference in The Hague this week, Morris said analytic applications, such as balanced scorecard and CRM (customer relationship management) initiatives, evolved to achieve real-time use of information.

That goal would have an impact on transactional systems, as they are further developed to deliver, and react to, real-time information, Morris said.

International manufacturing company, Raychem, has chosen an analytical application solution from SAS Institute to help its business managers plan for the future. The choice of an non-ERP-centric solution was driven in part by the fact that Raychem runs a variety of transactional applications, including SAP's R/3, Mfg-Pro from QAD, and heritage mainframe solutions.

Raychem's activities encompass manufacture and distribution of a variety of products, including arresters that help protect electrical power distribution lines from the dangers of surges, resettable fuses that protect cellular phones from short circuits and electronic wire harnessing systems that are used in the control of planes, trains and automobiles.

The company has drawn on its diverse data sources to create an orders and shipment information system (OASIS), using SAS Institute and Informix databases and other SAS Institute software, to give managers access to key operational information in minutesRaychem's ERP systems feed data on the company's order backlog, shipments and incoming order rates to a mix of SAS and Informix databases via an in-house developed cross platform file transfer mechanism.

Five year's worth of data is available for analysis. The data mining tools are used to create 4000 scheduled reports, and 2000 ad hoc reports each week, delivered to Raychem's business managers via the corporate IP-based global WAN.

It takes an average of 10 minutes to deliver reports to managers' desktops once a request has been actioned.

The system is used to create reports on individual customers and market sectors, calculate bonuses for sales personnel, and manage Raychem's distribution channel.

The software can be also used to simulate likely effects of potential future price and cost changes, said Paul Padley, IT director of Raychem.

The company's future data mining plans include the use of SAS Institute software to analyse inventory so it can be reduced.

* Laura Mason travelled to the Hague courtesy of SAS Institute

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