Published in Solutions Integrator by Joe Devlin Click here for list of articles
  April 15, 1998 Latest generation of multidimensional analytical software provides a great reason to revisit database clients
SummaryMain_ArticleExpert AdviceLucrative Lead InProduct Listing

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Where there's OLTP, can OLAP be far behind? It shouldn't be. In fact, the latest generation of multidimensional analytical software is a great reason to revisit our database and data-warehouse clients. Here's why and how.



Expert Advice For Analysis Tool Success

Target the nontechnical.

Datawarehouse tools speak to a different customer set than relational technologies namely, those who appreciate complex data modeling functionality, such as top corporate executives and business analysts.

"Integrators who try to sell warehousing to IT audiences will fail;" warns Holly Rader, product manager for data warehousing at IBM. "Target the functional executives who have specific business problems that these products solve:

Speak the language of business.

Traditional OLTP system customers are IT managers, but the purchase decision makers of OLAP and other front end data warehouse tools are business analysts, marketing people, and corporate executives.

"Selling these folks means talking about business problems and how the software will solve those problems," says Neil Mendelson, director of data warehousing at Oracle. "The biggest mistake integrators make is to talk technology."

Use existing database systems as the reason to call.

OLAP, ROLAP, and multidimensional analysis tools extend the power of existing OLTP and other relational database systems. Many tool packages include their own internal data cubes that let them cull data and create their own internal warehouses to enable fast multidimensional analysis.

Present clear ROI benefits but tactfully. Multidimensional analysis can provide clear ROI benefits. But vertical customers will want to crunch their data differently. Learn the data models that may improve bottom lines in the 1 to 2 percent range it takes for the data warehouse to pay for itself. But "don't be too quick to tell your customers how these new tools can best be used," cautions Clay Hardin, decision support manager at integrator Radiant.

Seed the client, then wait for growth.

OLAP and other data-analysis packages give users sophisticated decision making capability they're not used to. In soma cases they'll start getting today's information today, not next week. In other cases they'll get brand new information. 

"We've learned to install the tools quickly, provide a few pre established models, then sit back and give the client a few weeks to try them out with key employees," Hardin says. "Then we go back with a company-wide roll out plan. Deployment is then usually much larger and more on target than if we'd speced it out without the trial."

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