By Connie Winkler  |  Posted 2005-05-23 Print this article Print

In 2005, more companies are requiring their executives to make decisions based on savvy use of business analytics software.

Data Driven

Likewise, James Craig, vice president of information systems at Cooper Communities, is just starting on the path to analytics and business intelligence. "My goal is to implement a real business intelligence tool and make it available on the desk of every executive," he says.

But managers at Cooper, a private developer and operator of retirement communities based in Rogers, Ark., are often on the road, so getting the data to them is as much of an issue as crunching the right numbers. For example, the president of one of Cooper's four operating companies was calling his assistants to read him daily sales figures. Instead, Craig's group created a data feed from various Microsoft Windows systems to the president's mobile phone and personal digital assistant.

"He's getting better information, faster," Craig says. "And it's delivered to where he is."

Quaker Chemical, an industrial-chemicals maker that posted $400 million in sales for 2004, has a more basic concern: dealing with spiraling costs of raw materials. Irving Tyler, chief information officer at the company based in Conshohocken, Pa., points to the volatile price of crude oil, a commodity used to produce many of Quaker's specialty chemical products for the steel manufacturing industry.

To be able to respond more quickly, Quaker is developing new business analytics applications to track the effect of these increases on its own prices, as well as its profitability for each customer and product line. Those applications will tap a data warehouse system from SAS.

"Over the years we've enriched our data with all kinds of dimensions, which allows us to look at different kinds of problems very quickly," Tyler says. "Now we want to look at the cost impacts by product, by customer, by geography—all the different things that help us target our pricing actions."


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