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LESSON - Data Mart Consolidation

By the Redbook Team, IBM Corporation

IBM Redbook

Just as many people today undertake a personal fitness program in order to reduce weight, improve health, and build stamina, a growing number of large organizations are taking a similar approach to their existing business intelligence solutions.

It is common for organizations that have used business intelligence systems over several years to find that they have a collection of different systems serving a similar purpose. These business intelligence systems are also referred to as management information systems (MIS) or data marts. While the reasons for this proliferation are natural and understandable, it is clear that it can cause a number of problems:

  1. Multiple MIS systems make it difficult to be sure that you are using the right numbers when reporting internally and externally. There are many different versions of the truth. This is especially true when an organization uses many hundreds or thousands of spreadsheets to aid reporting.
  2. The cost of running these multiple systems is much greater than the cost of a single consistent system.
  3. Lack of productivity. The effort required in developing reports in different systems, getting the right report from the right system, and checking the reports for accuracy, is much greater than it needs to be.

The answer to this dilemma is to perform a data mart consolidation, where the different systems are taken and transformed into a single, consistent, shared system with comprehensive data of known quality. Streamlining and efficient tools can then be utilized to promote modern best practices.

The key benefits that can be obtained by undertaking such a program include:

  1. Enhancing corporate agility by becoming even more responsive to new requirements and opportunities.
  2. Improving governance and eliminating uncertainty by establishing a single, modern system.
  3. Improving productivity through the application of current best practices and modern tools.
  4. Reestablishing data quality for confidence in decision making and regulatory reporting (important for compliance with Basel II, Sarbanes-Oxley, IAS, IFRS, etc.).
  5. Securing large cost savings by eliminating redundant data and systems, thus cutting maintenance costs.

There are many understandable reasons why MIS systems or data marts proliferate—maybe an organization has a history of creating a new data mart or MIS system every time a department has a new analysis requirement. The result, however, is high support and maintenance costs for all the data marts that accumulate over time. These are usually funded independently at the department level, so the true overall cost to the organization may not be visible.

The answer to this dilemma is to performa data mart consolidation, where thecollection of different systems are takenand transformed into a single, consistent,shared system with comprehensive dataof known quality.

Similarly, organizations that grow by acquisition inherit the business intelligence systems of the acquired company. When a realistic picture of the existing marts is compiled and analyzed, the facts revealed can cause significant concern for CFOs, CIOs, and IT managers.

By taking action, the overall cost of consolidation typically pays for itself several times over—as well as improving business effectiveness and competitiveness.

This article originally appeared in the issue of .

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