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William McKnight

Hello and welcome to my blog!

I will periodically be sharing my thoughts and observations on information management here in the blog. I am passionate about the effective creation, management and distribution of information for the benefit of company goals, and I'm thrilled to be a part of my clients' growth plans and connect what the industry provides to those goals. I have played many roles, but the perspective I come from is benefit to the end client. I hope the entries can be of some modest benefit to that goal. Please share your thoughts and input to the topics.

About the author >

William is the president of McKnight Consulting Group, a firm focused on delivering business value and solving business challenges utilizing proven, streamlined approaches in data warehousing, master data management and business intelligence, all with a focus on data quality and scalable architectures. William functions as strategist, information architect and program manager for complex, high-volume, full life-cycle implementations worldwide. William is a Southwest Entrepreneur of the Year finalist, a frequent best-practices judge, has authored hundreds of articles and white papers, and given hundreds of international keynotes and public seminars. His team's implementations from both IT and consultant positions have won Best Practices awards. He is a former IT Vice President of a Fortune company, a former software engineer, and holds an MBA. William is author of the book 90 Days to Success in Consulting. Contact William at

Editor's Note: More articles and resources are available in William's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel. Be sure to visit today!

Recently in SAP Category

This morning, it was announced that SAP intends to buy Business Objects for the equivalent of $6.8 billion. While Business Objects will initially be run as a wholly-owned subsidiary, I can certainly see the value of Business Objects software being added to the SAP ERP - especially the portal, the OLAP tool and the data quality tool. SAP software eventually could be reshaped by this acquisition, not only the ERP, but also the Business Warehouse.

Furthermore there’s the competitive play into the Oracle/Business Objects accounts. As Ken Rudin, CEO of LucidEra, commented: “Business Objects is installed in a lot of Oracle accounts, and the implementations are being managed by the IT groups. These are the same people that SAP wants to talk to about putting in SAP's other applications, so it gives SAP an introduction into a large base of accounts currently controlled by Oracle.”

The business intelligence market continues to be absorbed into enterprise software lines. Business Objects was one of the last large standalone business intelligence companies. Enterprise software players now seek an end-to-end story and eventually so will end clients. I’ve talked a lot about “BI Frameworks” – those handful of companies that sell a complete BI story. Maybe we should be talking about enterprise frameworks like those from Oracle, SAP, Microsoft and IBM. If HP did not make moves here beyond NeoView, I would be surprised.

Informatica didn’t need to rush into this, assuming they were even considered by SAP. They are still selling data integration as a standalone and doing it quite well, thank you very much. However, as potential suitors go away one-by-one, long-term, they may need a path into a framework.

Teradata, freshly minted as its own company last month, continues with a “data warehousing is different and necessitates its own consideration” strategy. How long will this serve them? Also there’s Cognos, who, while having less depth than Business Objects, surely was considered in this. And, finally, they may be easy to forget on the financial stage since they are private (albeit one of the largest private companies in the world), but SAS could be a buyer or seller. And welcome to the big time Netezza. What will the eventual NeoView story and the black-box purchasing that will sweep the industry (i.e., Oracle now doing an appliance model) – mean? Are appliances being bought for superior performance, or for the purchasing model? For Netezza’s sake, let’s hope it’s the performance.

So, I’m not rushing into calling this a BI purchase. Rather, they’re now enterprise purchases and further validate the transition of business intelligence from post-operational to operationally embedded in the enterprise.

Technorati tags: Business intelligence, Business Objects, SAP

Posted October 8, 2007 1:36 PM
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Whither the POS system. Retail has a broad range of POS systems deployed. Check out the varied POS systems you encounter in the next month. It is a very difficult process, especially for a large retailer, to make changes to their POS environment. It requires field work and is very disruptive. New POS systems typically are phased in and seldom reach 100% deployment.

I have been following and evaluating Triversity for some time now for my retail clients. Asked about a hot pick in an interview a couple of months ago, I mentioned them. This week, they announced they were being acquired by SAP. Triversity alleviates some of the pain associated with the POS rollout as well as adding some modern CRM functionality that interface to a data warehouse (DW). This is a hot pick with growth potential for SAP.

Here are some examples of modern POS functionality around interface to the DW or the usage of DW information:

POS interfaces to the DW - during a transaction, the POS system will collect a customer ID, perhaps by scanning a magnetic card, or by the cashier entering the customer phone number. It will send this ID to the DW and receive back a message containing customer data. From this message, the POS will retrieve customer eligibility data, in the form of a list of target groups. It will relate these groups to its own offer/segment mapping file, thus determining which offers the customer is entitled to. It will execute these offers if their criteria are satisfied.

POS will retrieve any messages directed at the customer, and print them at the end of the receipt.

POS will retrieve any continuity offer totals currently active. If spend within the transaction should trigger a continuity offer, its award will be given.

At the end of the transaction, POS will send a message to the DW indicating any updates which may have occurred within the transaction. This would include transaction spend, any contribution to continuity totals, and notification of any continuity awards.

When this message is sent, POS must wait for a positive acknowledgement before sending the next message. This process is normally done by a background process on the POS controller, to avoid impact on the POS terminal itself.

The Offer Management System performs Offer, Promotion definition, and campaign definition. It feeds the DW with customer/target grouping data, and the POS system with offer definitions and target group offer mapping.

The POS stream will be monitored for customers responding to offers and response information will be held.

It will be possible to target offers to specific customer target customers or household groups (of any size) at the POS.

Of course, to enable much of this functionality, the retail organization will need to track their customers through a frequent shopper program. Our wallets will be filling with more and more of these cards as time goes on - in order to enable this kind of functionality for the retail organizations.

Posted September 23, 2005 10:17 AM
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