Get business intelligence

Susan Andre2002

Business Intelligence (BI) is a complex activity that requires organisations to master multiple technical and management disciplines. At the same time BI solutions enable companies to measurably impact their business by implementing highly successful customer relationship and financial management initiatives, says Susan Andre, MD for Sagent Technology in SA.

Organisations can easily and rapidly turn company data into relevant information that can be used for effective decision-making, analysis and reporting. Information can be extracted from multiple internal and external sources, optimised for decision support and delivered in a customised format for Web-based or client applications.

Sagent's integrated BI platform is a complete, open and high-performance infrastructure that supports every phase of the BI lifecycle and allows companies to aggressively develop custom analytic solutions that yield insight into their customers and business operations.

As BI becomes a managed service within IT organisations, the value of embedded business analytics rises significantly. Because Sagent provides a powerful middle tier with both data integration and data presentation capabilities, IT can centralise the definition of business algorithms and store them in Sagent's open metadata repository.

Once created, these analytics can be used to enforce the business rules that the organization applies when creating or using information in the data warehouse. For example, a customer valuation model that uses recency, frequency and monetary (RFM) metrics to score and segment customers could be modelled in a data flow plan and stored in the Sagent repository.

It could then be used for different purposes, such as applying customer segmentation rules during a warehouse load, filtering a customer service report for the help desk or sending a targeted list to an external vendor for an e-mail campaign.

Customer records from any data source can be automatically corrected and enhanced with pinpoint demographic and spatial characteristics. The Spatial Analysis transforms then uses these characteristics to analyse the business significance of customer and supplier location – simultaneously improving service, reducing costs and creating new business opportunities.

The Sagent Forecaster transform provides advanced forecasting capabilities that detect and predict trends in the business based on historical data and seasonal factors. The Sagent Analytical Calculator transform facilitates the creation of statistical and mathematical models that can be saved and reused within a plan.

The new Sagent Solution version 4.5i enhances performance by 50% or more and introduces iStudio, the industry's first Web reporting solution that leverages parallel data flow and Web server technologies, to deliver the power of analytical transformation libraries to every user within an organisation.

Andre says the new offering features a thin-client user interface, iStudio, which allows users to quickly create and share sophisticated queries, reports and multi-dimensional OLAP views. "iStudio is a 'zero administration' product that dramatically decreases the cost of developing and deploying enterprise business intelligence solutions."

Performance optimisation allows customers to increase the size and availability of their data warehouse. Existing hardware configurations can process twice the amount of data in the same time, benefiting applications with increasing volume requirements or the need to shorten daily load windows.

"Even more dramatic performance is achieved when additional processors are brought to bear. Sagent's automatic threading model allows customers to execute massively parallel data transformations on Solaris and Windows 2000. Initial benchmarks conducted with the assistance of Sun Microsystems, validate Sagent's linear scalability on SMP servers," says Andre.

For example, on a Sun Microsystems mid-range server, Sagent can comfortably transform and load more than 100GB of data per day into an Oracle database.

"This is the first in a series of releases designed to provide a complete, open and thin BI solution," said Ben Barnes, president and CEO, Sagent. "Our product roadmap deepens and extends our traditional end-to-end value proposition with a new focus on enterprise-class performance and the ability to integrate our solutions with products from other leading BI and CRM vendors.

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