|Experts at Ascential Software Forum at TDWI Cite New IT Mantra: Business Rules!|
Wednesday August 20, 6:43 pm ET
IT executives from Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Landstar System, Inc., McKesson Corp., Pfizer Inc. and Room Solutions Underscore Imperative to Correlate IT Projects and Business Objectives
BOSTON, Aug. 20 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/-- A panel of technology experts from some of the world's most prominent companies identified a new guiding principle for information technology Monday night at The Data Warehousing Institute (TDWI) World Conference: Business rules....Not as in a set of instructions related to data management, but a declarative statement of the new IT reality. All IT projects must advance business objectives.
"Increasingly, you're seeing a dominance of business over technology," said Kevin Curtis, director, Room Solutions, a leading UK provider of systems and services to the insurance market. "Business is telling IT, 'This is what I need you to do for me. Now go away and solve it.'"
Sponsored by Ascential Software Corporation (Nasdaq: ASCL - News), the enterprise data integration leader, the Experts Forum focused on "Delivering Results in the Real-Time Enterprise." More than 100 TDWI attendees were present for Ascential Software's Experts Forum, the first in a series of ongoing events to coalesce thinking on issues important to data warehousing and enterprise data integration. Computerworld Editor-in-Chief Maryfran Johnson moderated the panel discussion.
The prevailing theme of the evening was the importance of the technology and business sides of any organization, regardless of industry, to communicate with each other and understand respective objectives, abilities and limitations. The expert panelists, all of whom use Ascential Software solutions in their enterprises, also identified present and future IT issues. These include determining when to take a "real-time" or "right-time" approach, leveraging Web services and service-oriented architecture for interoperability and efficiency, and the impact of compliance with government regulation and legislation on information systems.
Bob Leo, IT director for Landstar System, Inc., predicted 2004 will be the "year of meta data," citing the need to have a clear, unambiguous definition and history of the data that runs an enterprise. "Because we're asking the business to take more ownership, they're coming back to us and saying, 'What is this concept of a customer? What does it mean if I'm putting five systems together and I have different definitions of a customer?' " Landstar is one of the country's most innovative and fastest-growing transportation services companies.
The experts agreed that while real-time data delivery is a powerful technology that is fundamentally changing enterprise data integration, it is not always necessary or even desirable. Instead, prudent use of real-time technology based on business processes and requirements should be the determining factor. They prefer the term "right-time," which more accurately represents the need to get business information to the right people when they need it. "Right time is probably a better phrase to use," said Leo. "You need to ask, 'When does the business need the information we're trying to deliver?' It no longer makes sense to say, 'We can do this in real time, so we will.' "
Real-time/right-time decisions are complicated by the fact that many parties may need a given piece of information, "but they need it all different times," said Danny Siegel, IT director for data management/architecture, Pfizer Inc.
The expert panelists and their peers in the audience pointed to the ever- increasing importance of data quality in a real-time environment where data volume, velocity, and complexity reach previously unseen levels. "Don't underestimate the efforts of data quality that will be required of you," cautioned Stephen Zander, director of architecture technology, McKesson Corp., the second largest pharmaceutical distributor in the United States. Ascential RTI Services, which was announced in June and began shipping this month, is breakthrough technology that extends the reach of Ascential Software's powerful enterprise data integration solutions - including Ascential QualityStage(TM) - by enabling the seamless interoperability within an enterprise's service-oriented architecture (SOA) and providing real-time functionality.
Panelists had varying degrees of enthusiasm toward Web services. One panelist considered Web services little more than the most recent label for reusable, interoperable software components. Leo of Landstar, however, reported tremendous success with a pilot application simulating a user on its business-to-business transportation Web site. Behind the scenes, an Ascential DataStage® Web service was querying multiple legacy systems and offering subsecond response times.
Many IT departments are still coming to grips with new regulations such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, the financial accountability law, and the related need for financial "transparency." Panelists called transparency an ambiguous term with different meanings to IT and business managers. "We're using the same word but don't mean the same thing," Zander said.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, more commonly known by its acronym HIPAA, poses similar challenges for data integration professionals, according to Ralph Miller, director, corporate architecture, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. "Everybody's afraid of making a wrong step," Miller said, but added that his company, a leading health maintenance organization, has a team dedicated to ensuring HIPAA compliance.
The experts offered a number of tips to secure funding for enterprise data integration projects, including taking a "baby steps," or an incremental rollout approach, to show early and frequent success. Also essential is fully and clearly articulating how business demands translate into necessary IT investments.
"As we witnessed on Monday night, some of the biggest names in global business are using Ascential Software solutions to tackle their enterprise data integration challenges, and these companies' IT executives are among the world's most creative problem solvers," said Mike Cassettari, Ascential Software vice president and chief marketing officer. "These are the people who set the agenda for enterprise data integration. They've done it in the past and are among the first to meet these challenges."
The industry-leading Ascential Enterprise Integration Suite combines Ascential ProfileStage(TM) for data profiling, Ascential QualityStage for data quality and Ascential DataStage for data transformation on a shared platform of software services for unlimited scalability through parallel processing, management of meta data, any-to-any connectivity. Launched in June 2003, Ascential Real-Time Integration Services enables real-time data integration using an organization's service-oriented architecture and Web services.
About Ascential Software
Ascential Software Corporation is the leading provider of enterprise data integration solutions to organizations worldwide. Customers use the Ascential Enterprise Integration Suite to integrate and leverage data across all strategic analytic and enterprise applications with confidence in the accuracy, completeness and timeliness of critical information. Ascential Software's powerful data profiling, data quality, data transformation, parallel processing, meta data and connectivity solutions enable customers to reduce total cost of ownership and increase return on IT investment. Headquartered in Westboro, Mass., Ascential Software has offices worldwide and supports more than 2,200 customers in such industries as financial services, telecommunications, healthcare, life sciences, manufacturing, consumer goods, retail, and government. More information on Ascential Software can be found on the Web at www.ascential.com.
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Source: Ascential Software Corporation