With a Midwestern up-bringing and strong work ethic, Ruth Fornell is the kind of person who is in her office at 3:00 a.m. when neccessary to participate in a global videoconference. With NCR's customers always a top priority, Fornell has a strong desire to do what is necessary to move NCR forward. Ruth Fornell, vice president of marketing for NCR's National Accounts Solution Group, is proud to be a part of NCR. "It is because of the people not only the clients, but also the NCR family. It's a very talented group of people, very committed to the strategy of the organization. Most of the people are like me and have been through the different flavors of the organization over the years. We really believe in NCR's strategy and vision and are committed to making it happen." The people, the commitment, the vision and the strategy are all integral components that define NCR and its role in business intelligence and data warehousing.
Responsible for overseeing worldwide marketing operations for NCR's National Accounts Solution Group industry and data warehousing solutions, Fornell gained her first international exposure when she attended school in Japan to study Japanese language and culture. "I lived with a Japanese family that didn't speak English. You learn survival Japanese real fast, having to go to and from school on public transportation. It was a great experience." Fornell added to her international experience when she moved to Dundee, Scotland, to oversee NCR's worldwide marketing programs for Financial Products and Systems Marketing in that country. Fornell also was director of strategy for NCR's Computer Systems Group. In that position, she led the development of a new strategy that redefined NCR's computer business.
Ruth Fornell, vice president of marketing for NCR's National Accounts Solutions Group
Now considered to be one of the top companies in business intelligence and data warehousing, NCR has a solid recognition base. Fornell explains that there are three areas of competency within the organization that led to that. "The first is what we call consumer interaction points. Basically, this is our history our legacy. This is our work in areas such as retail point of sale, scanners, automatic teller machines, self-service kiosks, even our work in the call centers. NCR's technology in these areas enables businesses to interact with their customers," explains Fornell. "The second area of competency is data warehousing. After acquiring Teradata, a pioneer in data warehousing, we've moved that to be the center of our computer business. The third area of competency is in services, both professional services as well as support services." According to Fornell, NCR has service personnel in over 130 countries. This explains the need for a few of those 3:00 a.m. videoconference meetings. "Our vision," she explains, "is to provide technology-enabled solutions that allow companies to capture information about their customers, analyze the information, and go back and positively impact the relationships they have with their customers." Seeing these three competencies come together is the signature of the current NCR.
NCR solutions enable companies to capture and analyze data to maximize customer acquisition, retention and profitability. However, Fornell recalls an earlier time in NCR's history. "When it was announced that we would spin off from AT&T, we were really trying to be all things to all people in the computer business. We were in the PC business, we were in servers, we had our own UNIX operating system, we had our own TP monitor and we owned the Teradata database. We had very broad product offerings in a marketplace that was becoming increasingly competitive," she states.
"At that time, we made a decision. We stepped back and identified the core competencies of NCR. We had this gem Teradata and we had confidence in the future of data warehousing. We realized that business intelligence and data warehousing would soon become mainstream technology, required by companies throughout the world in order to remain competitive," says Fornell.
NCR's confidence in the future of data warehousing combined with the powerful and scalable capabilities of Teradata led to the change in corporate focus. "Over the past four years we have been investing heavily in data warehousing and making it centerfold to our computing strategy. It is really the heart of the overall company strategy as well, because we can't deliver that vision without data warehousing," comments Fornell. "Today 80 percent of our R&D is in software, and it's no longer general-purpose software. It's very much Teradata designed for data warehousing with all the associated tools. Over the past couple of years, we have also been building up a portfolio of analytical applications for data warehousing. Today, NCR is focused on being a provider of complete solutions for data warehousing, solving business problems not only for customer relationship management but also for financial, operations and asset management."
Data Warehousing Facts from NCR
When asked to characterize what sets NCR apart, Fornell quickly responds, "The first thing that would hit my list is experience rather than a product or a service. We find that the most important thing that customers need when building a warehouse is the opportunity to work with a partner that knows what they are doing and can ensure a successful data warehouse solution. We indeed know what we're doing. NCR has several thousand professional service people that have been building warehouses for many years. Increasingly, analytical applications are becoming key to what we offer. We have been focusing our internal development and acquisitions around the customer relationship management space, including vertical applications."
Why do customers choose NCR? Fornell's direct response settles the question "Because we build data warehouses that work the first time. Warehouses have become so strategic to the business that they have to work the first time. We have the capability of handling the largest, the most complex data warehouse you can build, the most complex queries and as many concurrent users as you want. But you don't have to start on top of the mountain. You can get in at the low end." Then with a great deal of pride and the salesmanship showing just a bit she goes on to say, "Most importantly, we offer scalable solutions. There is full investment protection when you double your users or double database size." That point is very important as warehouses typically double in size every twelve months. "NCR's customers can be confident that they're working with a partner that knows what they're doing and has the experience to implement a successful, scalable data warehouse. With NCR you get a company that's in the business of building warehouses, and for the foreseeable future our core strategies are going to remain the same. We will also invest heavily in the customer relationship management side because there is such an enormous market demand for those types of uses for data warehouses. We will continue to make an investment in products and services that address consumer privacy needs. We want to proactively build into our analytic applications consumer-controlled ability to decide where their data can and cannot be used."
"Our focus," Fornell concludes, "is on leveraging the strength of NCR's three core competencies to deliver the vision of helping our customers acquire more customers, retain existing customers and drive profitability to all customers."
Looking to the future of the market and of NCR, Fornell says, "I can easily focus on two issues. There is an absolute explosion of users on data warehouse systems, being fueled very much by the Web. This is driving the demand for more applications, and along with that comes more data. The technology that is going to have to be there will have to be scalable, fast and have lots of capacity. Our technology will be ready to handle the increased data load. We also see the urgent need to deal with unstructured data types. I see a lot of customers that deal with it, especially as we move into the world of customer relationship management, delivering the value of the warehouse at the point of contact with the customer. At NCR, we will leverage the talents of all individuals across our organization to meet the demands of the growing market."
With NCR's commitment to research and development, service, customer relationship management and decision support data warehousing, NCR and its customers will be transforming transactions into relationships well into the next millennium.
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