ALTITUDE ONLINE: USING DATABASES AND BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE
Altitude Online IS staff are beginning to prepare their databases for conversion to an ERP system. Each Altitude Online regional office maintains its own database and database management system (DBMS). In addition to relying on the database for daily operations, regional managers produce weekly, monthly, and quarterly reports that they provide to corporate headquarters in New York.
The new ERP system will eliminate the need for managers to transfer reports, because it will enable executives at headquarters to view real-time data from all regions at any time. Prior to the installation of the new ERP system, databases across the organization must be standardized so that they can be easily merged.
Altitude Online hired a database administrator, Tim Conway, to assist in the transition from multiple, disparate databases to one, central database. Tim has been working with regional IS managers in designing an enterprise data model. Because each regional database model has been serving the needs to the regional offices, Tim’s job mostly involves studying the current database structures, finding commonalities and differences, and discussing which entities and attributes to retain in the new design.
Tim uses entity relationship diagrams to define the logical structure of the database. Based on this structure, and working backward from current report specifications, Tim will design the SQL code required to provide the reports. Through this exercise, Tim confirms that the defined entity relationships are adequate to provide the information needed. Tim’s job requires going back and forth between the business intelligence requirements and the database base model, ensuring that requirements are met.
A considerable amount of data cleanup will be required to eliminate data redundancy across the regional databases and to eliminate outdated records.
All of Tim’s efforts are currently directed at preparing the existing databases for the upcoming major migration. The migration itself cannot commence until the ERP is installed. At that point, depending on the vendor and system selected, various tools and support will be made available to make the transfer a smooth one, without interruption to daily business. Having the data organized and cleaned prior to the move will make the process all the easier.
1. What work is involved in merging multiple databases into one central database, as Altitude Online is doing?
2. Why do you think Altitude Online found it necessary to hire a database administrator? How will the ERP affect the responsibilities of IS personnel across the organization?
3. In a major move such as this, what opportunities can Altitude Online take advantage of as it totally revamps its database system that it perhaps wouldn’t consider before?
4. Why do you think Altitude Online is beginning work on it database prior to selecting an ERP vendor?