Computer Technology Associates
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  Data Warehousing & Data Mining

In early 2001, a Computer Technology Associates, Inc. (CTA) property management client within a large nationwide bank was looking to provide more timely and accurate information to retail customers and internal managers using web-based reporting tools. The information the client delivered at that time came from a diverse set of systems selected for their ability to deliver specific functional capability - SAP for financial transaction data, Strategen for lease management data, Facility Center for asset management and vendor services data, and internally developed web-based applications for customer-specific data. The client looked to CTA to develop a data warehouse with a common reporting tool - a tool that had the flexibility to integrate these disparate systems, yet was easy enough to deploy and train non-technical users.

CTA chose to accomplish the challenge by focusing our approach on four areas:

    1. Research and analysis of requirements and reporting tool product capabilities.
    2. Configuration and development of a proof-of-concept using sample data from SAP and Strategen.
    3. Development of the proposed systems architecture and data models.
    4. Compilation of deliverables.

Our research and analysis began with the client's identification of two reports that were candidates for web-based delivery: Building Inventory and Lease Obligation. The Building Inventory report was derived from a single data source within SAP, while the Lease Obligation report was based on data elements from both SAP and Strategen. These reports were used to build the proof-of-concept examples.

Our proof-of-concept proved that a previously purchased application could web-enable SAP reports and be leveraged to build a common reporting platform using multiple data sources. In addition, we provided specific and detailed recommendations on the form and function of a general web-based reporting platform that would act as a data warehouse consolidating the data from diverse applications and permitting data mining from stove-pipe systems.

As part of our proof-of-concept development, CTA refined our proposed solution architecture for future implementation. Our proposed solution architecture consisted of the following elements: a process for the extraction, transformation and loading (ETL) of source data, a hardware/software architecture configuration, and data models for both reporting and gathering of enterprise data entities (or meta data).

Throughout our client's history of systems development, the primary emphasis had been given to the operational systems (such as SAP, Strategen, etc.) and the data they processed. The fundamental requirements of operational systems are different from reporting systems and data warehouses; operational systems are based on transactional accountability, whereas reporting systems must support a high degree of query performance and flexibility.

CTA provided the client with a robust and flexible web-based reporting solution to overcome the limitations of sharing data between independent data sources. CTA continues to deliver data warehouse products and functionality that enable the client to implement their data mining capability in an incremental manner that also provides a flexible path for expansion. Our initial recommendation to implement a data warehouse using standardized integration templates and a flexible data model continue to provide the client with a stable platform for developing and deploying enterprise-level reports and have permitted the client to leverage rapidly changing technology, embrace best-of-breed products, and integrate legacy systems into a powerful information engine delivering timely and relevant reporting capabilities for their customers.

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