Friday Jan 17, 2014

StubHub's Data Scientists reap benefits of integrated approach….

We have released yet another great video customer video, this time with Stubhub.

Many customers are still pulling data out of their data warehouse and shipping it to specialised processing engines so they can mine their data, run spatial analytics and/or built multi-dimensional cubes. The problem with this approach, as the team at Stubhub points out, is that typically when you move the data to these specialised engines you have to work with a subset of the data that is sitting in your data warehouse. When you work with a subset of data you immediately start to impose compromises on your analytical workflows. If you can't work with all your data then you can't be sure that your analytical model is as good as it could be and that could mean losing customers or missing out on additional revenue.

The other problem comes from everyone using their own favourite tool to do their analysis: how do you share your discoveries, how do you develop a high level of corporate-wide analytical skills?

Stubhub asked Oracle to help them resolve these two key problems...

[Read More]

Monday Jan 06, 2014

CaixaBank deploys new big data infrastructure on Oracle

CaixaBank is Spain’s largest domestic bank by market share with a customer base of 13.7 It is also Spain’s leading bank in terms of innovation and technology, and one of the most prominent innovators worldwide. CaixaBank has been recently awarded the title of the World’s Most Innovative Bank at the 2013 Global Banking Innovation Awards (November 2013).

Like most financial services companies CaixaBank wants to get closer to its customers by collecting data about their activities across all the different channels (offices, internet, phone banking, ATMs, etc.). In the old days we used to call this CRM and then this morphed into "360-degree view" etc etc. While many companies have delivered these types of projects and customers feel much more connected and in control of their relationship with their bank the capture of streams of big data has the potential to create another revolution in the way we interact with our bank. What banks like CaixaBank want to do is to capture data in one part of the business and make it available to all the other lines of business as quickly as possible.

Big data is allowing businesses like  CaixaBank to significantly enhance the business value of their existing customer data by integrating it with all sorts of other internal and external data sets. This is probably the most exciting part of big data because the potential business benefits are really only constrained by imagination of the team working on these type of projects. However, that in itself does create problems in terms of securing funding and ownership of projects because the benefits can be difficult to estimate which is where all the industry use cases, conference papers and blog posts can help in terms of providing insight into what is going on in across the market in broad general terms.

To help them implement a strategic Big Data project, CaixaBank has selected Oracle for the deployment of its new Big Data infrastructure. This project, which includes an array of Oracle solutions, positions CaixaBank at the forefront of innovation in the banking industry. The new infrastructure will allow CaixaBank to maximize the business value from any kind of data and embark on new business innovation projects based on valuable information gathered from large data sets. Projects currently under review include:

  • Development of predictive models to improve customer value
  • Identifying cross-selling and up-selling  opportunities
  • Development of personalized offers to customers
  • Reinforcement of risk management and brand protection services
  • More powerful fraud analysis 
  • General streamlining of current processes to reduce time-to-market
  • Support new regulatory requirements

The Oracle solution (including Oracle Engineered Systems, Oracle Software and Oracle Consulting Services) consists in the implementation of a new Information Management Architecture that provides a unified corporate data model and new advanced analytic capabilities (for more information about how Oracle's Reference Architecture can help you integrate structured, semi-structured and unstructured information into a single logical information resource that can be exploited for commercial gain click here to view our whitepaper)

The importance of the project is best explained by Juan Maria Nin, CEO of CaixaBank:

“Business innovation is the key for success in today’s highly competitive banking environment. The implementation of this Big Data solution will help CaixaBank remain at the forefront of innovation in the financial sector, delivering the best and most competitive services to our customers”.

The Oracle press release is here: https://emeapressoffice.oracle.com/Press-Releases/CaixaBank-Selects-Oracle-for-the-Deployment-of-its-New-Big-Data-Infrastructure-4183.aspx

Friday Nov 22, 2013

Using Oracle Exadata to improve crop yields

It is not often you read about how the agricultural industry uses data warehousing so this article in latest edition of Oracle Magazine, with the related video from OOW 2013, on how Land O'Lakes is using Exadata caught my attention:  The Business of Growing, by Marta Bright http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/issue-archive/2013/13-nov/o63lol-2034253.html

A little background on Land O'Lakes: Land O’Lakes is a US company that has grown far beyond its roots as a small cooperative of dairy farmers with forward-thinking ideas about producing and packaging butter. It is a Fortune 500 company and is now the second-largest cooperative in the United States, with annual sales of more than US$14 billion. Over the years, Land O’Lakes has expanded its operations into a variety of subsidiaries, including WinField Solutions (WinField), which provides farmers with a wide variety of crop seeds and crop protection products.

This implementation on our engineered systems highlights one of the key unique features of Oracle: the ability to run a truly mixed operation + data warehouse workload on the same platform, in the same rack. Land O'Lakes uses a lot of Oracle applications which push data into their data warehouse. In many cases we talk about the need for the data warehouse to support small windows of opportunities. For WinField solutions this is exactly why they invested in Oracle. 

What makes seed sales unique and challenging is that they are directly tied to seasonal purchasing. “There’s somewhat of a Black Friday in the seed business,” explains Tony Taylor, director of technology services at Land O’Lakes. “WinField is a US$5 billion company that sells all of its seed during about a six-week period of time”. With that sort of compressed sales cycle you need to have unto date information at your finger tips so you make the all the right decisions at the right time. Speed and efficiency are the key factors. If you watch the video Chris Malott, Manger of the DBA team at Land O'Lakes, explains the real benefits that her team and the business teams have gained from moving their systems (operational and data warehouse) on to our engineered systems platform.

Land OLakes

Click on the image above to link to the video. If the link does not work then click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-MDYI7IakR8

WinField is maximising the use of Oracle's analytical capabilities by incorporating huge volumes of imaging data which it then uses to help farmers make smarter agronomic decisions and ultimately gain higher yields. How many people would expect Oracle's in-database analytics to be driving improved crop yields? Now that is a great use case!

WinField also drills down and across all the information they collect to help identify new opportunities and what in the telco space we would call "churn" - for instance in January they run reports to identify particular farmers who typically purchases seed and products in November but has not yet ordered. This provides WinField the information it needs in order to perform proactive outreach to farmers to find out if they simply haven’t had time to place an order.

“We’re able to help farmers and our co-op members, even in cases where we’re not sure whether it’s going to directly benefit Land O’Lakes or WinField. Because this is truly a cooperative system, these are the people we work for, and we’re willing to invest in them.” -  Mike Macrie, vice president and CIO at Land O’Lakes. 

For next steps, Land O-Lakes is looking to move to Database 12c and I am sure that will open up even more opportunities for their business users to help farmers. Hopefully, they will be able to make use of new analytical features such as SQL Pattern Matching.


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The data warehouse insider is written by the Oracle product management team and sheds lights on all thing data warehousing and big data.

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