The Challenge of Information Delay

The requirement to transfer data between transaction platforms and analytic platforms causes information delays and reduces the ability to connect insight to action because of a disconnect from analytics to source data. This leaves enterprises at risk when decision makers are forced to rely on stale or insufficient data, or when they cannot connect analytic insights to source data.

An IDC survey of IT managers found that over 40% required more than two days to prepare financial data for reporting. On the line-of-business side, it‘s therefore not surprising that 25% of end users indicated that faster access to information would have a significant impact on their organization. This is consistent with IDC findings over the past 10 years that over 70% of the effort in an analytics project has historically been dedicated to preparing the data for analysis using traditional databases.

40%, 25%, 70%
supply chain

Part of the reason for this information delay is that there can be multiple systems of record that have captured data relevant to making a decision. Some systems are run within the enterprise, but in departments separate from enterprise IT. Think of a supply chain that must coordinate activities across multiple departments and multiple firms. Supply chain planning requires information about demand and inventory levels that cut across enterprises. So visibility into multiple systems is needed. Optimal ways to define the relationships among the data sources and then bring the information together are also needed.

But it is also the case that even information captured within the enterprise, and under the control of central IT, can face delays getting to decision makers. This is often caused by the issue of separate platforms underlying the transactional application (system of record) and the analytic application (system of decision). Bridging this divide requires data transfer, delaying the decision maker’s access to new information. The ability to deploy both transactional applications (systems of record) and analytic applications (systems of decisions) on the same data management platform would address a key cause of information delay.

data transfer graph

The survey indicated that users encountered substantial waiting periods in moving data from transactional to analytical databases. For instance, the survey asked the 407 IT manager respondents, “On average, what is the estimated time to process the data and make it available for analysis by the business user?” As indicated in Figure 1, there were statistically significant responses in each of these areas: finance, sales, marketing, customer service, manufacturing, supply chain/logistics, and R&D.

Figure 1: Time Required to Move Data from Transactional to Analytical Database by Business Area

Most of these areas showed that such movement required more than a day in over 50% of cases. Some areas showed over 50% indicating that such movement required more than 2 days. A large percentage in each case indicated that intervals of a week to 10 days are not uncommon. It is hard to imagine any nimbleness in business execution with such long delays between the setting of transactional data and the time it is available for analysis. By the time users analyze and determine a course of action, that course of action may be irrelevant.