CIS 500 Information Systems Decision Making
In order to maintain a competitive edge in a global market, the Volvo Car Corporation, an automobile manufacturer based in Sweden, realized that they needed to harness data throughout the life span of their vehicles. Initially, Volvo IT personnel deployed dedicated data marts, or data warehouses, to store the data streaming in from various sources (Teradata, 2011). However, they shortly discovered that they were missing a lot of potentially valuable data because information which could have been correlated was being separated or isolated (Teradata, 2011). This led Volvo to employ the Teradata Corporation, a cloud based data storage company, to consolidate all their data from manufactures, service centers, and even from vehicles being driven by consumers into one enterprise data warehouse (Teradata, 2011). The deployment of this cloud based data warehouse has given Volvo and their employees from all departments the ability to view and access data from all possible sources from just one location. As pointed out by Bill Tobey, a senior technology writer based in Salt Lake City, the move to enterprise data warehousing not only reduced costs by eliminating the need for multiple data marts, but has also lowered data system response times by enabling employees from all departments to view a broad array of data, thus allowing them to make faster and better decisions (Tobey, 2010).
The use of a massive data warehouse has given the Volvo Car Corporation the capability of blending information from many sources, which in turn has given company analysts the ability to create and correlate many different types of reports and analytical data using an array of business tools. Some of the software Volvo was initially using to turn data into knowledge included SAP Business Intelligent tools and Microsoft’s Windows .NET environment, which creates reports and enables ad hoc analyses (Tobey, 2010). Although utilizing an enterprise data warehouse was extremely successful, eventually Volvo realized they were dependent upon too many data management and business intelligent (BI) tools. This was because each department was deploying and utilizing different tools, which not only proved to be costly, but was becoming exceedingly complex and truly unmanageable (Microsoft, 2012). To lower the cost of technology and bring uniformity to all departments, Volvo turned to Microsoft and its core of business intelligent tools. Deploying tools such as Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Business Intelligence Data Management software including the SQL Server 2012 Power View feature, which provided end-users with the ability to use simplistic drag-and-drop data querying features and user-friendly graphical interfaces (GUIs) to aggregate data and create their own reports (Microsoft, 2012). Utilizing business intelligent tools, which provides a single analytical platform, gives Volvo real-time or up to the minute data (Teradata, 2011). This in turn enables Volvo to achieve such undertakings as tracking mechanical failures based upon geographical location and driving patterns, thus giving them the ability to predict future trends in vehicle manufacturing (Teradata, 2011).
Many organizations, such as Volvo, believe that collecting every bit of available data from all possible sources will lead to corporate success by giving their company a competitive advantage. Some refer to this as “Big Data”, but this term can be very confusing since it is a relatively new concept (McKinsey Global Institute, 2011). According to Nigel Turner, vice-president and information management strategist for Harte-Hanks Trillium Software, Big Data can best be defined as corporate practices and technologies that collect, store, process, and utilize data (Turner, 2012). Did Volvo gain a competitive edge and find corporate success by strategically using Big Data?