Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Challenge Remains the Same

In the recently published "Cost Cutting in Data Management and Integration, 2008," Gartner emphasizes the need to reduce costs while continuing to support BI initiatives. Sound familiar? The operating motto for CIOs and IT teams for the past several years: Do more with less.

With recent downturns in the US economy, the business needs for the data coming from BI systems have become critical to companies’ maintaining their competitiveness. When there is less money in play, companies have to understand all facets of their business: where they are making money and where they are leaving opportunities for improvement on the table, to plan continuously, and to have the frameworks in place to change directions quickly in order to stay at the forefront of their markets. There is a pressing need for accurate, reliable data from which they can analyze and gain the insight needed to make the best business decisions possible. This source data comes from the same IT team tasked with reducing their costs.

Balancing the business need for insight into the organization and the IT need to reduce costs is where innovation can occur. Gartner’s report provides a number of recommendations for cutting costs within data management initiatives, ranging from the common-sense Optimize Data Integration Tools Licensing to recommendations that are complex and require creativity within the IT teams to successfully achieve: projects like Perform Operational Database Consolidation and Perform Data Mart Consolidation. Gartner estimates the payback from data mart consolidation as a savings of “approximately 50 percent of the total cost allocated to supporting their disparate data marts if they consolidate those marts into an application-neutral data warehouse.”

Easily said, but how to get from here to there? The solution lies in feeding a central application-neutral data warehouse with business critical data from application-specific data marts. To do this requires using intelligent data movement applications to ensure that this feeding of the warehouse is both seamless (does not interfere with the data mart applications), highly dynamic (so the data is refreshed in near real-time), persisted (ensuring a physical copy of calculated or aggregated data is available in the warehouse), and auditable (for data governance and regulatory compliance).

There are myriad opportunities to reduce costs within the IT department. The challenge is to develop innovative solutions that meet the requirements of data governance, security and accuracy, and still provide business users with the data they need to drive the company forward.

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