Small- and medium-sized manufacturers that would like to do more with data on their customers, products, and profitability but cant afford the cost of a full-fledged data warehouse should check out a new prepackaged offering from QAD Inc. and Data General Corp.
The software and hardware firms have joined to offer a predefined, preconfigured enterprise data warehouse for manufacturers using QADs MFG/Pro system. The data-warehouse package includes an Oracle database and Data Generals Aviion Pentium-based server running Microsoft Windows NT. "With this preconfigured package the customer can have a data warehouse running within a week," says Susan Williams, global product manager at QAD in Carpinteria, Calif. "To develop a data warehouse on your own, youd need a large IS staff," she adds. And at some companies, the project can take years.
Tailored specifically to meet the needs of manufacturing companies, the data warehouse extracts data from a companys enterprise-resource-planning systems at regular intervals. This information is made available exclusively for company users trying to use the data for analysis and to do "what-if" queries. The system interfaces with popular data-analysis systems such as PowerPlay from Cognos Inc.. in Ottawa, Ont., so that users can "drill down" into the data, or "slice and dice" information according to several factors simultaneously.
Most of QADs customers are manufacturers, says Williams. "Were very familiar with the kinds of questions our customers want answered."
According to a recent survey, the average three-year return on investment for a data warehouse was 401%. The average pay-back time was 2.3 years for a data-warehouse application that cost $2.2 million.