It’s All About the Analytics, Attendees Told

Data Warehousing Conference: It’s All About the Analytics, Attendees Told

Mel Duvall

Companies that know how to combine data warehouses with analytics will have a big advantage in the future, attendees at the annual Teradata Users conference were told.

Randall Parman, database architect at Applebee’s International, a chain of 1,900 restaurants, said data is like gold, but it’s not until you gain the ability to mine that gold for insights that it becomes truly valuable. “If you don’t use the gold, you will have someone else come along and take advantage of the opportunity,” Parman told the gathering of almost 3,900 attendees at the conference in Las Vegas.

The annual Teradata conference comes at a time of major change for both the company and the industry. Teradata officially marked its spinoff from parent company NCR a last week as shares of its common stock began trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Teradata, which specializes in large data warehouses used by such companies as Wal-Mart, Continental Airlines, and Bank of America, instantly joined the senior ranks of publicly traded technology companies with $1.6 billion in annual revenue.

The past week has also seen a string of announcements in the analytics space. Enterprise applications giant SAP announced that it was acquiring Business Objects for $6.8 billion. The goal, SAP CEO Henning Kagermann said, is to embed Business Objects’ analytical applications with SAP’s core business applications. IBM also said that Information Builders’ WebFOCUS analytics application was being directly incorporated into its DB2 Web Query product.

At its conference, Teradata said that it had formed a strategic partnership with SAS, to incorporate SAS’ analytics software directly into the Teradata database engine. In an interview with Baseline, Teradata CEO Mike Koehler and SAS CEO Jim Goodnight said the partnership is a direct result of many customers asking for a closer integration of the two platforms. The companies share a number of large customers, including Bank of America, Medco and Warner Home Video.

“What we really want to do is put our solution right inside the database,” said Goodnight. “That will make the analytical processing much faster and in turn will allow our customers to address a lot of the complex problems they’re dealing with.”

As an example, Goodnight pointed to Bank of America, which uses the two companies’ platforms to perform anti-fraud and money laundering queries. “Instead of pulling data out of Teradata, and then querying it with SAS, companies will be able to do it using our engine,” said Koehler.

Using faster analytical applications to take action on customer and business insights was the key theme of the conference. Applebee’s Parman said those insights can come from unexpected areas. By mining customer sales data against customer satisfaction surveys, he said Applebee’s has been able to draw a direct link between the types of food people order and their satisfaction with their dining experience. Applebee’s has used that information to tailor its advertisements towards menu choices that produce a better customer experience.

Applebee’s has also mined its 4TB Teradata warehouse to measure how long it takes individual restaurants to prepare food orders, and how much time staff spend with customers. Those insights have been used to share best practices throughout the chain.

“The actions we’ve taken are the result of a small group of people looking to use information in new ways to improve the business,” Parman said.

Copyright © 2007 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in Baseline.