Prasanna Dhore, executive vice president at The Dreyfus Corporation (New York, $167 billion in assets under management) and head of Dreyfus eBusiness, has a simple way to describe the difference between data, information and knowledge: "Data tells us, 'What?'; information tells us, 'So What?'; knowledge tells us, 'Now What?'," he says.
Dhore joined Dreyfus at the end of 1996. Since then, his focus has been to build systems that create knowledge rather than simply receive information. "We changed the processes and also the systems behind them," says Dhore.
To do so, Dhore extended the use of its Cary, N.C.-based SAS systems. Originally used at Dreyfus just for capacity planning, Dhore began to take advantage of its analytics capabilities. "Now we have an infrastructure for business-support data, and customer-focused, account-focused, and asset-focused data," says Dhore. "We have a centralized data - we can get data any way we want, in any dimension we want."
Dreyfus now has a data warehouse on an IBM DB2 mainframe, and two "data-marts" using Oracle on a UNIX server. By having central data repositories, the efforts of the statisticians and the IT analysts now complement one another. "We don't have statisticians pulling data sets from different places and creating central data marts," says Dhore. "Based on the infrastructure we have, we have totally eliminated those kinds of needs."
Now, Dhore is considering the use of SAS for its reporting as well. Currently, Dreyfus uses reporting tools from Business Objects and Cognos to access information in the central data repositories. "I would rather be with one vendor," says Dhore. "Anywhere I can consolidate, I will do that."
Traditionally, SAS has been the domain of the statistics-savvy analyst. But SAS9, the company's latest release, includes an overhauled user interface designed to cater to the business user. "We've been able to really tear apart what the analysts do in terms of writing models using our core technology, versus what the business users would do in terms of deploying and using those models in analytics applications," says Russ Cobb, director of financial services strategy, SAS.
The new software contains the ability to define "personas" around a specific function at an organization. "So if you have, for example, someone who is a credit officer in a retail branch, they don't have to worry about the process of building models for credit scoring and credit modeling," says Cobb. "They can just deploy the models that have been created back at corporate by the analyst group."
"Their user interfaces look a lot more like you would expect a business GUI [Graphical User Interface] to look," adds Cobb.
Dreyfus is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mellon Financial Corporation.