Case study – Continental Airlines
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?
“Active” data warehouse is a repository of any form of captured transactional data so that they can be used for the purpose of finding trends and patterns to be used for future decision making. An active data warehouse has a feature that can Integrate data changes while maintaining batch or scheduled cycle refreshes. It Is required In order to maintain “right-time” or “real-time” data arouses, which means that the data has to be as fresh as the decisions or business processes require, but not necessarily immediately when they change. Continental airlines reckons on using “right-time” data warehouse in order to have better insight Into its financial position, performance and forecasts, and finally make quick and effective business decisions. For Continental Airlines, data warehouse was a springboard for becoming “Worst to First” and finally “First to Favorite” airlines.
2 In what ways does real-time data warehousing fit with the Continental strategy and plans?
Real time data warehouse gave Continental Airlines a competitive advantage on the airlines market.
Continental Airlines was one of the first companies in the industry to implement it, align with the “Go Forward Plan”. Their plan to become “first” and finally “favorite” airlines was actually successful because It was supported by high-value technologies and now all Continentals business processes, from customer relationship management and revenue management to flight operations, reckon on real-time data. From the very beginning, data warehouse was important for company’s performance. As an example, before the data warehouse, revenue management department could analyze only direct flights data, which meant that they could not track customers’ routes from departure to final destination, if they had more than one stop. Furthermore, data warehouse serves Continental Airlines for optimizing airfares, as a backup system for real-time reservation data: “Demand-driven dispatch” application is used to maximize air craft usage, “Group Snoop” for group booking, “Flight Management Dashboard” helps employees to maximize customers’ satisfaction – which all included integration of many different data.
Real-time data warehouse enabled Continental Airlines’ management and employees to have better Insight into their work, customers’ needs, potential risks and frauds, and consequently, make right decisions, Increase competitiveness and Improve their positioning in the market.
3 Describe the benefits of real-time data warehousing at Continental
Implementation of real-time data warehouse costs Continental Airlines about $30 million. However, it has brought much more benefits. The company achieved huge saving In many departments: for example targeted promotions saved the company about $15 to $18 paving of $35 million. Besides, targeted customer relationship program brought company $150 million revenues in one year, fare design activities brought $10 million annually, while Continental managed to prevent more than $15 million in fraud only last year. In total, Continental Airlines has achieved over $500 million in increased revenues and cost savings during the last six years, with a return on investment of 1000 percent.
Furthermore, by treating customers well, with the focus on high-value customers, management created customer loyalty and retention. At the same time, by sing real-time data warehouse query management solved the issue with its pilots and proved them that they were treated fairly, enhanced communication among employees, which all created the atmosphere where employees want to work and contributed to company’s image.
4 What did the data warehousing group do right that has led to the successful deployment of data warehousing and Bal within Continental?
Data warehouse group has developed a warehouse architecture that could “grow and scale to meet these new real-time and operational needs”.
Since people’s expectations from new software are mostly to provide the same possibilities like the ones they used before, it was very important for data warehouse team to interest and attract potential end users about the new data warehouse. Hence, they have created prototypes in order to inspire potential end users about the new applications and show them the variety of possibilities that new data warehouse offered. Since the communication between IT experts and business people was a potential issue, special attention was paid on the “User support team”. Therefore, all four support am members, how many they were in the team, previously worked in the departments they support and, hence, are experts on the data for their areas. Their task is to assist and therefore make it easier for employees, cooperation, and coordination among the group as a whole.
5 What elements of the data warehousing environment at Continental are necessary to support the extensive end-user Bal application development that occurs?
It is very important that employees from business areas are part of The Data Warehouse Steering Committee. Since this body provides direction and guidance for the data arouses to the end users, directors from the business areas will better understand how to direct employees who are not with IT background and how to bring them data warehouse closer. At the same time, having available support contributes to employees’ work and creativity, and ensures their performance will not shrink due to potential difficulties in accessing the data or managing the tools. Since operational data are available in real-time and updated each minute, end users can submit queries they need at any time. This enables all levels of employees to deal with unexpected events and make required decisions.
Besides, employees can also run “what-if” scenarios to determine the impact of possible events, which also contributes to the quality of decision-making process. All data in the data warehouse is imported from the sources that are trusted by end users and that is necessary to support them.
5 Want special Issues auto data warehouse management does this case suggest occur for real-time data warehousing? How has Continental addressed these issues?
The management data warehouse is a relational database hat contains the data that is collected from a server that is a data collection target. This data is used to generate the reports for the System Data collection sets, and can also be used to create custom reports. TTL is a process in data warehousing responsible for pulling data out of the source systems and placing it into a data warehouse.
TTL involves extracting the data, transforming the data, loading the data into a data warehouse or data repository other reporting applications.3 In order to deal with different characteristics of data sources that can effect loading process, Continental has created the Service Bureau. This infrastructure is a set of shared services that run on 10 Windows-based servers and consists of different programs and components that, essentially, facilitate transformation processes. It monitors work queues and in case the queues carry out beyond certain doorstep value, Service Bureau issues an alert to the on-call staff. Besides, it notifies employees when their data is loaded.
Loading process is “reusable and genetic”, which makes it simple to import new real-time data even though employees demand. Another challenge for Continental is to optimize real-time warehouses so that all queries can co-exist. Because of that, specific priorities are given to the different types of loads, while higher priority is given to queries that require the fewest data warehouse processing.
6 What generalized lessons learned can be gleaned from this case? Are there other lessons for you beyond those listed in the Lessons Learned section?
The most important lesson for me is to understand the importance of contemporary technologies and realize that being in the step with IT development is necessarily important in order to be competitive in fast changing business environment.