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Corporate Information Factory (CIF)

Corporate Information Factory (CIF)

The CIF is a conceptual architecture created to deliver Business Intelligence and Business Management capabilities driven by data provided from Business Operations. Let's break it down and look at each of the components of the CIF in the context of these business capabilities.

Business Operations
Business Operations are the family of systems (Web servers, operational, reporting systems, even external data.) from which the CIF inherits its characteristics. These are the core systems that run the day-to-day business operations and are accessed through application program interfaces (APIs). The operational environment represents the major source of data for the CIF.

The ability (or inability) to capture the appropriate data in operational systems sets the stage for the value of the CIF itself. The success or failure of this architecture depends heavily on these operational systems to supply the richness in data needed to understand the business and to provide the history by which we judge the health of the business.

Business Intelligence
Business Intelligence (BI) consists of the ability to analyze data for strategic decision-making. BI has enjoyed a significant amount of attention in recent years because it is from this function that companies garner their business acumen regarding their customers, products, campaigns, employees, and so forth. This is the essence of the truly intelligent business. The components of BI are the data warehouse, data marts, the decision support interface (DSS) and the processes to 'get data in' (Data Acquisition) and to 'get information out' (Data Delivery).

The data warehouse becomes the source of integrated, re-engineered, detailed snapshots of historical data. The data is cleaned up as much as possible and is documented in terms of its sources, transformation rules, calculations, etc. The data warehouse then serves as the repository of quality data for subsequent data mart creation.

The data mart is the analytical engine of this environment and consists of a subset of the data warehouse data formatted for a particular function or department. The data is usually aggregated or summarized and is derived from a known set of requirements. Examples of strategic functions are life-time value analysis, customer demographic profiling, customer buying habits, customer churn and inventory turn analysis - critical BI capabilities for all businesses.

Business Management
Business Intelligence is of moderate value without the ability to produce an effect from its results. Thus, the need for Business Management - the ability to act upon the intelligence obtained from strategic decision support systems in a tactical fashion. The Operational Data Store and Oper Mart are major components within it. The Operational Data Store (ODS) is an integrated, cleansed, dynamic (updateable) and current set of data for tactical decision-making. The business community uses an online transaction process (OLTP) type of interface (TrI) for the ODS.

The ODS must be accessible from anywhere in the organization and should not support any particular operational application. Examples of ODS structures are a consolidated Customer database or consolidated Product or Inventory database.

Oper Mart is a subset of data from the ODS used for multi-dimensional analysis of tactical data. It has a traditional DSI-type interface, may be rebuilt every night, and is usually temporary in nature.

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