Magazine article Management Today

Improving Data Digestion

Magazine article Management Today

Improving Data Digestion

Article excerpt

Today's large-scale computer users have a problem - how can they cope with the huge amounts of data proliferating throughout their organisations? Peter Slavid, corporate systems business manager at ICL, provides some advice.

From financial institutions and public utilities to retailers and travel companies, large organisations are having to store an ever-increasing amount of computer information. And the trend is set to continue as more and more information comes not just in the form of text but as data-intensive graphics, image and video.

During the past few years, most organisations have responded to their swelling data storage requirements by creating databases as and when required for separate departments, products or functions. The alternative - to use large mainframes for centralised databases - has been too inflexible and expensive in most cases.

The distributed database approach seemed to fit well with management trends towards devolving responsibility and empowering individuals. But distributed databases are often incompatible causing big problems for organisations that want to combine the wide variety of information stored. Corporate data cannot be fully exploited to maximise business opportunities and streamline customer service.

Take a bank, for example. It might have separate systems for each of its account types - current, deposit, mortgage, investment or insurance. When a customer phones with a query, the telephone operator cannot summon his or her full portfolio of accounts on screen. The operator may be unable to answer questions relating to separate accounts, and cannot easily spot which additional services might interest the customer.

For organisations that are devolving responsibility down the management chain, it often makes sense to give users the capability to run programs on desk-top machines. But the same argument does not apply when it comes to corporate data. On the contrary, it often makes sense to keep all the data in one central place - security is easier to ensure and users can always be given the latest version.

ICL's newly-announced GOLDRUSH system is an innovative solution to the large database requirements of major computer users - it can store and process vast amounts of data cost-effectively and at high speed. …

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