REVIEWER: Wil Holland, IT manager for Innovam.

BACKGROUND: Innovam is the Dutch knowledge and training center for the mobility branch (car, motor, scooter and motorbike companies and dealers, etc.). Innovam’s research activities are a means of innovation to gain advantages for the market. Bringing parties together, educating and stimulating for improvements are recognized as key activities by Innovam.

PLATFORMS: Innovam’s business intelligence (BI) solution is based on the Corporate Information Factory (CIF) architecture as defined by Bill Inmon, with a central data warehouse and data marts. The server is a Win2003 machine with Microsoft SQL Server database. Source systems are, among others, SAP, SAP BW and Exact.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Innovam’s different target groups need tailored attention because of different processes and management needs. To make sure that their incremental unveiling of BI remains in control, Innovam opted to not restrict itself to just extract, transform and load (ETL) tools. Automating manual labor and generating the components through a model-driven design approach was superior to building them to avoid inflexibility in the BI processes.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Innovam reduced risk by using Microsoft tools as the platform for the whole data warehouse solution and utilized a modular architecture. BIReady designs, creates and loads the data warehouse and data marts (even on the fly) solely based on Innovam’s defined business model. BIReady enables automatic process changes (or expansions) of this business model throughout the data warehouse. Defining elements and types (including historical requirements) is done with just one click within the configuration workflow of The BIReadyManager tool. With BIReady software, it’s even possible to build up history over history, keeping track of changes with retroactive aspects. The BIReady data loading process is optimized, and only changed data is processed. Some of the loading processes can incur computing power, but thanks to BIReady’s multithreading approach, optimal performance is ensured.

STRENGTHS: BIReady’s flexibility makes it possible to change and prototype on the fly during the development phase, which brings a huge advantage in carrying out adjustment requirements from end-user feedback.

WEAKNESSES: Because Innovam is an early adopter of a completely new way of data warehousing, we recognized some risks: not many references, not much knowledge in the market, immature organization, etc. We did not have any troubles with these issues, partly because of the market acceptance of data warehouse generation and the success BIReady achieves. Also, some imperfections were solved immediately. BIReady showed great capability in quickly providing improvements.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Before starting the development of the BI system of Innovam, an in-depth proof of value with the BIReady software product was done. BIReady saves around 50 percent of the development costs and the yearly maintenance costs of the database and ETL components that are part of the BI solution. These savings are realized by less manual work for realization and change of database schemes and data processes, and the possibility for maintenance from internal personnel, instead of needing expensive external professionals. So far, the predicted savings have been confirmed by estimated and experienced costs. To ensure a fair comparison between the project activities with and without the use of BIReady, we calculated both scenarios based on the assumption that the CIF architecture is used.

DELIVERABLES: BIReady automates labor-intensive activities and hides the technical complexity that normally comes along with data warehousing. BIReady realizes savings up to 50 percent, both for the initial project and for the next increments and changes. Using BIReady enables Innovam to perform maintenance-related tasks, so external knowledge or consultancy is not needed. A nice bonus of using BIReady is that the desired architecture comes with the product out of the box.

VENDOR SUPPORT: During the proof of value, the BIReady co-workers not only proved the added value of their product, they also trained Innovam employees and our system integrator in using BIReady. Innovam staff was informed about what is going on behind the screens, which led to an in-depth understanding of the impact of working with BIReady. The support for advice and technical issues has been very accurate and persistent. Also, the QA support that Innovam and BIReady agreed upon is very helpful for us.

DOCUMENTATION: The manual and tutorial that come with the product are very self-explanatory, complete and easy to use.

The Data Warehouse Generator
Langbroekerdijk B 18a
3947 BB Langbroek
The Netherlands
+31 343 563851

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