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A view from the treetops

Ike M. Gaamil February 28, 2012

Area of Consideration (Facts) Go Ape is an outdoor adventure company that offers tree climbing, mountain biking and even segway riding experiences in 27 forest locations across the UK. There central office is located in Suffolk, but their business takes place under or in the forest canopy. The company was founded in 2001, the couple Tristram and Rebecca Mayhew used to run it themselves from the forest sites. And the company has grown to reach 11 million in annual turnover, and today it employs 500 staff. According to operations director Jan Beattie, this means management by intuition is no longer appropriate. They visit on site, interacting with customers and staff on a regular basis. Their gut feeling about something was based on experience. According to operations director Jan Beattie, this means management by intuition is no longer appropriate. When the directors are removed from the sites, they have to support their gut feelings with evidence and data. Then need information from 27 sites. Meanwhile, the way in which employees input data into Go Apes management systems has also come under strain. To allow employees to file health and safety reports and customer feedback forms, Go Ape had to install PCs in cabins at each location. To check if ramps, pulleys, and plunks are is safe condition, employees used walki-talkie, one will perform the check, and another will input the data into the PC. These issues prompted Go Ape to redesign its data input and analysis infrastructure. It began in 2009, when the company started to look for a business intelligence system that would allow directors to access vital management data. The company deployed QlikView in 2010, and directors now use a web-based portal to access reports on health and safety, customer services and more besides.

To accelerate data entry, the company armed its outdoor employees with Apples iPod Touch devices, which can run apps and connect to the web. Staff uses a data collection app called iForm. When the iPod moves within range of a WiFi access point, the data is uploaded to a cloud-based iForm server, from where it can be downloaded to Excel, and subsequently pulled into QlikView. Pulling operational data together into QlikView reports allows company directors to monitor and manage performance across the organisation. It also means directors can investigate current practices and examine future possibilities without going through employees.

Problem Technological Factors The problem was all about information system, difficulties in getting information from 27 sites and the burden on employees when they input data into Go Apes management systems. Alternative Courses of Action To allow directors to access vital management data, the companys approach was implementing the In-Memory Business Intelligence system, particularly the QlikView QlikView is the most flexible Business Intelligence platform for turning data into knowledge. Effective decision-making is based on having the right information available and easy accessible. QlikView promotes unrestricted analysis of application data, helping users make time-saving and accurate decisions. It brings a whole new level of analysis, insight, and value to existing data stores with user interfaces that are clean, simple, and straightforward.

Conclusion

Traditional BI technology loads data onto disk as modeled tables and multidimensional cubes, queries are then made against the tables and cubes on disk. Limitations of disk based (RDBMS or OLAP) techniques include performance limitations

requiring intermediate aggregation tables, low flexibility to adapt to changing business needs, limited scope of analysis and long implementation cycles. In-memory technology removes these steps, as data is loaded into RAM and queried in the application or database itself. This greatly increases query speed and lessens the amount of data modeling needed. Memory prices keep dropping which makes it economically viable to increase capacity for in memory processing. Faster performance on larger data sets with less data management seems like a win-win situation for the organizations. While data warehouses guarantee integrity and provide a stable server environment for managing data, in-memory can make information accessible at the time it is needed and available to anyone who requires it. It is also important to understand that the amount of RAM you need is not only affected by the amount of data you have, but also by the number of people simultaneously querying it. In any typical BI solution a large number of users need to have access to data. With increase in number of users and data volumes the amount of RAM needed also increases which in turn affects the hardware costs.