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Tuesday, 06 April 2010 14:41

API's data warehousing bill sliced by $400,000


Teradata's push into the smaller end of the data warehousing market, and its more aggressive pricing policy, has effectively sliced $400,000 from Australian Pharmaceutical Industries' IT budget over the next three years.

Brett Hart, manager of finance and business reporting for the pharmacy division which has pioneered the use of data warehousing and business intelligence for API, said that when the company first began its adventures in data warehousing two years ago it realised it would eventually have to upgrade its data warehouse facility and had budgeted accordingly. 

He explained though that in the intervening two years Teradata - once a supplier focused on the big end of town - had pushed into the lower end of the data warehousing market and become much more aggressive on pricing. This he believed would save API $400,000 over the next three years compared to its initial data warehouse budget forecast.

API currently runs a 1 terabyte data warehouse, which following the upgrade has the capacity to grow to 6.7 terabytes.

The pharmacy division, which supplies products to more than 4,000 pharmacies nationwide, has been the first API cab off the rank to use the data warehouse. Late last year the organisation won an international award for its 'integrated view of the business' which has been underpinned by the Teradata warehouse, analytical software from Informatica, and business intelligence software supplied by MicroStrategy.

Until the data warehouse based system was installed API relied on an ERP with some analytics overlaid for its information insights. This approach meant it would sometimes be 3 in the afternoon before management reports were available.

In addition the organisation had to cope with information being stored all over the enterprise.  'Every nook and cranny had Excel spreadsheets to make sense of it,' Hart has acknowledged.

Now pharmacy data is combined into one data warehouse and management reports are available at the start of the business day.

Business users are also being encouraged to conduct their own ad hoc queries of the data warehouse, a trend Hart believes will continue. Acknowledging that to be successful; 'We've got to convince the business that this is the way to go,' Hart said it would be important for managers to 'accept responsibility' for their role in accessing the information that would help them run their operations, rather than waiting for IT to send them reports that IT thought might be useful.

Hart said that the appointment in December of Peter Hourihan as chief information officer at API, replacing Michael Vodicka, had prompted a planned extension of API's data warehousing initiative.

Hourihan who also heads up the organisation's group supply chain, has according to Hart, charged him with now exploring how business intelligence and data warehousing can be applied both to the retail arm of the business (the PriceLine stores) and its group supply operations.

The platform for this expanded application of the technology will be the new Teradata data warehouse appliance.

In a release issued today by Teradata, Hart claimed that the system upgrade: 'Has increased our ability to make better, timelier decisions while also providing us the opportunity to integrate other business units' data into the enterprise warehouse to accommodate future information requirements.'

API's previous 550P data warehouse appliance has now been redeployed as a test and development platform.  

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