Managing information technology

Topics: Data warehouse, Decision support system, Database normalization Pages: 5 (1377 words) Published: September 30, 2013
Teaching Note for Continental Airlines Real-time BI Case
“Continental Airlines Flies High with Real-time Business Intelligence” is a comprehensive example of how an organization used real-time data warehousing and business intelligence applications in its turn around from a poorly performing to an industry leading organization. The case is not heavy on technical details, but the essence of the technology is explained. Thus, the case can be used for a variety of courses and in different degree programs from data warehousing to DSS/BI and from undergrad to executive. Discussion of the case can be led by using the following nn questions and exercises. Included with each question or exercise are some of the points that we believe are most important to raise in the discussion. 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? • Continental uses “right-time” instead of real-time, meaning they have an appropriate mixture of data feeding and reporting cycles based on what refresh rates the business needs, how timely reported results need to be, and what is the most cost effective • Continental employs many real-time feeds of data into the data warehouse, and many examples of real- time, on-demand (prewritten and ad hoc) reporting routines and querying tools (e.g., Teradata QueryMan, and Hyperion Brio)

• So far, Continental has limited instances of direct links from analytics against the data warehouse back to operational systems (e.g., results from analytics on the data warehouse affecting the interactions with customers on the Continental on- line sites); thus, Continental has many examples of real-time, but few examples of active data wareho using

2. In what ways does real-time data warehousing fit with the Continental strategy and plans? • To change the company, Continental decided to be on the leading edge of applying highvalue technologies and business concepts, and real-time warehousing distinguishes Continental among their competitors

• Each element of the Go Forward Plan can be translated into consequences for data management and business intelligence
• The Go Forward Plan was hampered in general by the fact that information (from a single version of the truth) was not available within Continental to make critical decisions, yet they were data rich with many sophisticated, separate operational and decision making systems

• The initial application of data warehousing concentrated on one of the most critical areas for Continental to go from worst to first—revenue management; thus, from the beginning, data warehousing was positioned as supporting business strategy, which gave the initiative considerable visibility

• The initial application also addressed one of the most troublesome operational problems facing Continental—the inability to understand market and customer behavior, including a customer’s itinerary from origin to destination (what has led to the PNR database) • Data warehousing benefited from being associated with the initial wins for the business turn around effort, thus giving it a foothold for playing a role in future investments in implementing the new business strategy

3. Describe the benefits of real-time data warehousing at Continental. • Each application, from the initial ones to the most current, have shown cost savings or revenue enhancements (e.g., the initial ‘demand-driven dispatch” application is attributed with a $5M dollar revenue increment)

• Many of the revenue benefits have focused on gaining more revenue from high- value (high-profit) customers via higher-quality service, which leads to greater loyalty, and eventually more business with greater revenue

• Other benefits have reduced fraud from travel agents and customers • Inside and outside of Continental, benefits have also been in greater passenger and industry security
• There has also been...
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