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Cognos Delivers Key Business Data in a Definitive View for Cutler-Hammer

  • April 01 2001, 1:00am EST

Cutler-Hammer is one of the world's leading suppliers of electrical control products and power distribution equipment with sales of approximately $3 billion. Cutler-Hammer's parent company, Eaton Corporation, is a global manufacturer of highly engineered products which serve industrial, vehicle, construction, commercial and aerospace markets. Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, the company has 64,000 employees and 200 manufacturing sites in 24 countries.

The decision to move toward a more comprehensive, end-to-end business intelligence solution really began when the information technology (IT) organization was tasked with running a report on pricing comparisons in the various regions of the United States. The IT organization realized that getting information out of the legacy system would make this a daunting and very time-consuming task. We knew we needed a better way to extract data, run fast analyses and generate reports to our geographically distributed team. We needed a single, consistent and up-to-date snapshot of the data in order to run analyses and get the decision support answers we required.

As a multibillion-dollar manufacturer of power distribution and motor-control equipment with twenty-eight product lines and fifty manufacturing facilities, we have a complex business structure. We knew we needed a consistent view of key information of our regions, products and customers. The definitions of the data differed from department to department (e.g., each department had its own product hierarchy). We worked closely with our various offices and departments to ensure the way in which this information was organized was consistent with their requirements. This initiative was spearheaded by a cross-function, joint marketing and IT team with technical help from a Cognos business partner, John Daniel Associates.

We have a subset of the data from the legacy system in a relational database, but the structure was not conducive for online analytical processing. It proved a long ROI, and systems administrators found it difficult to make changes. All the while, users didn't have access to information they needed in a timely fashion, and they were very dependent on our IT team.

There was a significant internal need for evangelizing the data mart concept ­ convincing stakeholders that the data mart strategy wasn't fraught with the same challenges, especially after the time/resource commitment to the data warehousing paradigm.

The shared, conformed data mart strategy is a recognized industry method for allowing rapid access to information and, most importantly, rapid deployment of the solution.

The data mart model strategy we agreed upon allowed us to best reflect the information needs of our complex organization. We opted to assemble data marts for market-share analysis (domestic and international) and product/price analysis. Given the vast information requirements of the 115-year-old company, we chose Cognos DecisionStream, a leading data mart creation solution. Its scalability and the close integration with the rest of the Cognos BI platform, PowerPlay and Impromptu, made it the best choice for servicing Cutler-Hammer's complex requirements. It allowed us to build consistent, easy-to-work-with decision support systems.

We started with a clear picture of our strategy and defined our requirements at the beginning of the project. With Cognos DecisionStream and the overall solution, we were able to set the common dimensions around customer, product, region, etc. To ensure that we defined our key dimensions up front, we started with a small dimensional framework of our important business categories. The iterative development process was used all along.

This strategy gave high availability of information for the various users in Cutler-Hammer. The timeliness of the updates to this information was very critical. Fast deployment and rapid implementation resulted in a few departmental successes with an increase in the demand from additional departmental information for analysis.

The single, coherent, unified view of key business information delivered by the Cognos products is a powerful competitive advantage. Simply knowing that our teams are all on the same page and acting on the same consistent information is invaluable. Like so many businesses, we have to make decisions quickly ­ on the fly. With Cognos DecisionStream and the overall BI solution, we can build data marts quickly and efficiently. Also, Cognos DecisionStream's seamless integration with the other Cognos products means that we no longer base decisions on gut, but on key business data in a single, definitive view. We can now get better information and answers that were difficult to get before.

Cognos DecisionStream unites most of our data from disparate sources, such as legacy systems' text file extracts, Oracle and SQL Server databases, and provides a complete and consistent model of important business information. Dimensional data marts which are information stores, organized and coordinated by business categories (i.e., customer, product, territory) can be generated and maintained with Cognos DecisionStream.

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