Case Study: Active Data Warehousing

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1. Describe "active" data warehousing as it is applied at Continental Airlines. Does Continental apply active or real-time warehousing differently than this concept is normally described? An active data warehousing, or ADW, is a data warehouse implementation that supports near-time or near-real-time decision making. It is featured by event-driven actions that are triggered by a continuous stream of queries that are generated by people or applications regarding an organization or company against a broad, deep granular set of enterprise data. Continental uses active data warehousing to keep track of their company’s daily progress and performance. Continental’s management team holds an operations meeting every morning to discuss how their company is performing in regards to the data collected by their active data warehousing program. The management team believes, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure,” so they use active data warehousing to keep track of their customers experience while using Continental Airlines. The information that the management team uses to analyze their company in regards to customer relationship is on-time arrival, on-time departures, baggage handling, and other key performance indicators. Continental also uses active data warehousing for revenue management, revenue accounting, flight operations, fraud detection and airline security. Continental restructured their goals to try to become customers “favorite” airline to use. They use their active data warehousing to gain as much information about the company’s performance as well as the customers experience. They use this real-time warehousing program to interpret information that is provided and make changes that will better improve their customers experience and help Continental better suit their business in regards to their customers’ needs.

2. In what ways does real-time data warehousing fit with the Continental strategy and plans?
Continental Airlines decided to shift their strategy once they went from “worst to first.” The new goal that they wanted to achieve was making the move from “first to favorite.” Continentals’ new strategy and plan of becoming their customers’ favorite airline could only be achieved by using real-time data warehousing. Continental made plans to become the “favorite” airline and their strategy involved making business decisions based on information they receive from real-time data warehousing such as: on-time arrival, on-time departures, baggage handling, and other key performance indicators. This information gives the Continental management team the necessary information needed to make corrections or changes in order to better their customers’ experience while using Continental Airlines. Continental’s strategy and plans to become the “favorite” airline would be much harder to accomplish without real-time data warehousing. They need this information in order to realize what parts of their company need to be tweaked to keep the customer happy. Without real-time data warehousing Continental wouldn’t be able to achieve their goal of moving from “first to favorite.”

3. Describe the benefits of real-time data warehousing at Continental. Real-time data warehousing has allowed Continental to make significant changes to its business in a variety of ways. According to Continental’s president and COO Larry Kellner, “Real-time BI is critical to the accomplishment of our business strategy and has created significant business benefits." There is a wide-range of benefits that Continental has gained from real-time or “active” data warehouse in the categories of marketing, corporate security, IT, and revenue management. One key benefit in the marketing field is the average increase of travel amongst Continental’s most valuable customers, approximately $800 per customer (35,000 customers). A central benefit in is that all employees have the ability to access important facts and information about its customers and the business in...
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