Once upon a time, in 1884, John H. Patterson founded
the National Cash Register Company, producer of the first mechanical
cash register. The company evolved through research, inventions and
acquisitions and over time became known not only for its registers, but
also its retail POS systems, scanners and ATMs. With its increased
scope, the company changed its name to NCR Corporation. There came a
time when executives of the company were pleased with the nearly every
aspect of operation with perhaps the exception of its lesser-known
computer business. So, in 1992 NCR purchased a sleeping giant called
Teradata Corporation, acquiring its advanced and unique commercial
parallel processing technology. However, it would still be some time
before Teradata received proper recognition and became recognized as one
of the world's most proven and powerful databases for data warehousing.
The acquisition of Teradata Corporation was made with
relatively little fanfare, explains Mark Hurd, COO of Teradata, a
division of NCR, and president of NCR. However, Teradata was destined
for greatness. Teradata unobtrusively existed as a business unit of NCR
for a number of years until Hurd was appointed to the leadership of
Teradata in 1999. In July of 2000, NCR created two operating divisions
within the company, placing all data warehousing and analytical
solutions under the Teradata Division, of which Hurd was appointed COO.
Early in 2001, they pushed the emphasis further by implementing a new
branding approach for this business, thus awakening the sleeping giant.
Recognition of the Teradata database with its patented parallel
architecture was fuelled by the creation and association of the Teradata
Division, and increased adoption of the product ensued. Customers,
including thirty per cent of the Fortune 500, now use Teradata to make
better, faster, more profitable business decisions by using data to
uncover new opportunities for growth, efficiency and improved customer
Notes Hurd, "The Teradata database is the
foundation of the world's most successful data warehouses. With hundreds
of installations, it supports customer warehouses of less than 10GB
through mega-sized warehouses with tens of terabytes and thousands of
users. The inherent parallelism of the Teradata database contributes not
only to its industry-leading benchmark performance, but also to its low
cost of ownership. Additionally, its patented parallel architecture
allows Teradata customers to easily handle the extreme processing
requirements of advanced data warehousing."
The Teradata warehouse brings together all of a
company's data into a single repository for a completely integrated,
360-degree view of the business. It combines Teradata's high-performance
parallel database technology, a full suite of data access and management
tools, robust data mining capabilities and world-class scalable hardware
while maintaining full parallelism without limitation in terms of
anticipated volume. Additionally, Teradata offers world-class,
leading-edge business and analytic solutions in e-business and CRM as
well as industry solutions for retail, manufacturing, travel,
communications, finance, insurance and government.
Teradata's solutions have earned numerous prestigious
industry awards, including a 2001 DM Review World Class Solution Award
for Business Intelligence with The Coca-Cola Company, DM Review
Readership Awards in both the CRM and Data Acquisition and Integration
categories in 2001, and a sixth place ranking in the 2001 DM Review 100.
This year, Teradata customers also received eight of The Data
Warehousing Institute's 15 Best Practices Awards. However, Teradata's
current stature cannot be explained by the rebranding alone. It took a
certain amount of foresight to really put into perspective the notion
that the hardware side of NCR was being commoditized and that services
and software were really key.
Hurd explains that the catalyst for the focus on
Teradata was a result of an acquisition. "The acquisition of NCR by
AT&T in 1990 was really a takeover, and it was huge," begins
Hurd. "AT&T had a lot of ideas about what NCR could do and
could be which really spread the company very thin. NCR had acquired
Teradata and was also driving and taking an aggressive position in the
PC marketplace. It was trying to build a midrange server capability. It
had a proprietary product line based on proprietary operating systems.
The company was just trying to cover way too many bases."
"By 1995, about four years into the AT&T
acquisition, the company was losing too much money for anyone to ignore.
Then, in September of 1995, AT&T announced it would separate into
three independent companies AT&T, Lucent and NCR by the end of the
following year. It was clear that we could not survive long-term as a
commodity hardware provider. That's when CEO Lars Nyberg made the tough
decision to get out of the PC business. He focused the company on a few
things. Teradata was one of those. It was the hidden gem,"
continues Hurd. "NCR's tough decisions and desire to claim stake in
the world of data warehousing combined with the global explosion of data
led the company's leadership to discover what they really had in
Teradata and contributed to the formation of Teradata, a division of
The legend of Teradata was born in part because the
timing of the new focus on data warehousing was superb as it coincided
with a veritable explosion of data — data that was begging to be
managed by Teradata's enterprise data warehouses. This space was
underserved in terms of companies that could capably deliver robust and
reliable technology solutions.
The problem companies are facing now is silos of
data. Many customers still don't have their data consolidated — and,
according to Hurd, that's a huge mistake. "In most cases,"
explains Hurd, "I actually don't think it's a strategic decision to
create silos of data. It's a decision that's actually absent of strategy
— it's something that just happens. Data marts are easy. They fall
below the radar screen and they give some short-term, quick return.
However, they become a problem because disparate silos not only give you
isolated views, but actually give multiple views of the same original
data set. It's evident that the CEOs are underserved. We have CEOs in
the market today who have plunked down millions and millions of dollars
on the latest IT tricks and they're still saying that they don't have
any meaningful analytic information about their businesses. Coming into
this job, I clearly underestimated the number of silos of information
that exist all over the world."
Hurd notes that information is tied up in leadership,
process and technology. "Leadership at the CEO level needs to drive
enterprise initiatives. The CEO must put the leadership in place to say
the information is important. If he doesn't, data marts and silos of
information will be proliferated which works contrary to enterprise
information sharing." Hurd argues, "The only way you win is
through superior service; and the only way you get to superior service
is through accessible, meaningful, real-time information. Information is
a differentiator. CEOs must be able to look into their businesses; and
while they may be looking at summary trends, they need to be able to
look at these trends across the entire company and know they're based on
Indeed, Hurd believes the consequences of not having
an enterprise data warehouse can be devastating. He cites a number of
once well-respected companies now embattled in accounting scandals as
examples of companies that could have benefited from an enterprise
warehouse solution. "Once you lay the foundation, the opportunities
for breakthroughs are huge because you have everyone from the supply
chain manager to the CMO and the CEO operating off of one set of data.
When you get that right, great things happen to you. You can activate
data and get it in near real time. You're operating off the truth. You
get headlights into the business — the ability to get a complete
enterprise view of the information," explains Hurd.
"We're looking to help businesses take their
data, define their enterprise data model, activate the data, turn it
into information and get it into the hands of the masses that can start
to use it when it counts. I really believe we have a chance to
revolutionize how we do business and upgrade the entire information
environment," states Hurd.
The business is still evolving, and there are many
opportunities awaiting Hurd's division. He admits that there are many
people encouraging him to raise his hand and claim victory because he
turned a commodity business that wasn't making money into a successful
business that is an important piece of the curve in terms of helping
customers solve problems. Hurd, however, will not do this. "Many
have contributed to our current success. It started with Lars' strategic
decision to exit the PC business and 'bet the farm' on Teradata. I know
our business has tremendous opportunity, and I focus on the opportunity
in front of us as opposed to what we've already accomplished. Solving
business problems reliably and earning the position of being a trusted
ally to get that accomplished is a great position in the
marketplace," says Hurd.
"There are plenty who wonder why we don't just
send a press release explaining that our mission is accomplished —
we've increased market share, become profitable and helped hundreds of
customers. In short, just claim victory and fade off into the
sunset." While this would make a neat ending for a fairy tale of a
sleeping giant, expect even greater achievements from Teradata to bring
true business intelligence to its customers. As Hurd says, "We're
certainly not stopping here. In fact, we've only just begun..."
(Val Schauer is an editor of DM Review magazine. She
can be contacted at email@example.com.)