Digital Mall, in collaboration with Alicornio Africa (previously Sagent Southern Africa), has announced a new service for information integration, business intelligence and data warehousing based on an Application Service Provider (ASP) model.This service enables organisations to gain access to a Business Intelligence (BI) infrastructure at an affordable price, in the form of a fully managed solution with all configuration, maintenance and monitoring done by Digital Mall, the companies say.

"The benefit of a hosted service is that specialist skills and technologies, often not within the financial reach of many SA businesses, become an attractive and viable option," says Yaron Assabi, CEO of Digital Mall. "We provide companies with the ability to collect, analyse and interpret their data within a risk-free business intelligence service environment, managed from a central location, using the Internet as a communication gateway."

"We opted for the Sagent Solution from Alicornio Africa, since it offers all the components required for the diverse information requirements of decision support and information integration," adds Assabi. "Whereas most BI solutions offer either the BI platform or the BI reporting capabilities, the Sagent Solution covers accessible Enterprise Information Integration (EII) as a whole."

Digital Mall’s dedicated BI unit is focused primarily on accessing company-wide information and providing recommended actions that should be implemented by operations and finance. Sagent has allowed for time to be spent analysing trends, and applying human intelligence based on information gleaned from various sources hosted within the environment.

Digital Mall says its offering is particularly attractive because it caters for the specific requirements of each client. Once the client requirements are defined, Digital Mall says that it will extract, transform and load the customers’ data into the hosted data warehouse, at predefined intervals.

Designed to allow the generation of regular static reports as well as catering for ad hoc interrogation of data, clients use a Web browser to access their information. Clients subscribe to the service, as opposed to owning the infrastructure, and through the economies of scale, could save on the potential costly investment on a typical infrastructure required for BI purposes. Users can share static reports through options like publishing to HTML, PDF or a delimited text file; which can easily be shared via e-mail or the Web.

"Companies should unlock the potential value of the information scattered throughout their organisations, by making use of the power of enabling technologies and service provided. The greatest challenge is usually to collect the information, a costly process that takes extensive time, often distracting the individual keen to be analysing the information. Instead of spending their efforts on collecting the information, they should be streamlining the process and obtain access to consolidated information in a consistent and managed way," says Susan André, MD of Alicornio Africa.