A data warehouse is a subject-oriented, integrated, time-variant collection of data in support of management's decision making process. It can be used to analyze a particular subject area and integrates data from multiple data sources. In essence it is a copy of transaction data specifically structured for query and analysis. Continental Airlines was able use real-time data warehousing to enhance business intelligence, save time, and improve data quality and consistency.
Data warehousing and business intelligence was the backbone for Continental’s “Go Forward” business plan; this plan helped Continental move from one of the worst airlines in the industry in 1934 to the fifth largest airline in the United States and seventh largest in the world by 2006. This strategy facilitated Continental in becoming the leader in real-time data warehousing and in 2004 it won them the Data Warehousing Institute’s Best Practices and Leadership Award. Before this strategy was implemented Continental was struggling in more ways than one; ticket sales were hurting, performance was not up to customer standards, there were frequent departure and baggage issues, and overbooking was a constant problem. All of these factors greatly affected the airline’s reputation and financial situation, forcing them to file for bankruptcy. Due to its investment in data warehousing and business intelligence Continental was able to make quick, informative decisions and improve overall customer satisfaction. The Go Forward plan gave Continental the ability to access real time data, as well as, access to historical and integrated information in a timely fashion.
Real-time data warehousing gave Continental the ability and technology to create a strong, successful business strategy. Through the use of this technology it was able to create applications for revenue management and accounting, customer relationship management, crew operations and payroll, security and fraud, and flight operations. The Go Forward business strategy, which was only successful due to DW and BI, contributed to Continental’s $500 million in increased revenues and cost savings, as well as, a $7 million reduction in fraud; with an overall cost savings of $41 million in one year alone. The use of real-time data warehousing helps a company understand the synergies between decision support and operations and to target specific information that is most useful to their industry. This technology allows users to identify problems and opportunities by giving them a multi-dimensional view of their company. This enables them to identify and adjust or improve different areas resulting in substantial cost savings and a more efficient use of company resources. It also gives users access to an advanced CRM system, which permits employees to focus on the needs of individual consumers, vastly improving their experience and improving overall customer satisfaction.
Traditional data warehousing and real-time data warehousing are both subject oriented, integrated, time variant, nonvolatile, and web based, however, the two are significantly different from one another. Traditional data warehousing is a physical repository where relational data are specifically organized to provide enterprise-wide data in a standardized format. Real-time data warehousing, also known as active data warehousing, is the process of loading and providing data via a data warehouse as they become available. This gives the user access to information that is critical to operational decision making, and allows managers to make gain this information in close to real time. Real-time data sources can be anything from a