Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems brought the promise of a single, integrated processing environment to an otherwise chaotic mix of business applications tied together by a maze of complex interface programs (if tied together at all). The promise of the ERP system was that one system would solve all the information needs of an organization. This allure, and the Y2K threat, led many organizations to spend millions of dollars in ERP software licenses, consulting services and business process reengineering efforts to achieve one information backbone for the organization. The results have been mixed. Although ERP systems are good at capturing and storing data, the systems lack capabilities to analyze and report data. The ERP system is the backbone of data processing for many organizations, but business users are frustrated with the inability to get information out of the system.
The data warehouse is a necessity for these organizations. The ERP system has limitations inherent in the design of transaction-processing systems. Operational systems are structured to capture data and to operate, but not to report. The ERP data schema is ex-tremely complex, containing thousands of tables with hundreds of columns, cryptically named, with relationships that are difficult to decipher. The ERP solution was developed to integrate the business processes across the entire supply chain with a modular design structure to allow organizations to select only components. Theoretically, all the data is in the ERP system. Yet it remains locked, not easily retrieved for analysis. In addition, the ERP systems can't accommodate data from other applications and external sources necessary for the analytic processing of the intelligent enterprise.
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