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CIS319:Computers and Information Processing
Workshop #3: Paper
I received 15 out of 15 for this paper.

Craig L. Williams
Instructor: Steve Robinson
CIS 319 Computers and Information Processing
May 18, 1999

Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français data warehouse

The French National Railroad -- the Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français, or simply SNCF -- has developed a data warehouse which enables it to bring in as high of revenue per train as possible by predicting trends and no-shows (Senn 539). Careful evaluation of information compiled by the data warehouse allows management to reduce train ticket prices on selected routes to encourage people to travel when trains are underbooked. This allows them to maximize the possible revenue for each train. Reviewing seasonal and holiday trends allows management to provide for adjustment in train schedules which better suit passengers. Reviews of even regular train schedules determine if the schedule best suits customers needs. Maintenance windows can be fine tuned to allow for less disruption of service.

Previous to SNCF’s data warehouse, the kind of information needed to make these decisions were not readily available. They were in different databases, in different systems and probably on different networks. They were not in a central place where various management reports could readily have access to the information. Key to developing a data warehouse is integrating various independent databases (Senn 507). This also helps in reducing redundancy and increases the sharing of information.

Besides the impact of ticket prices, SNCF’s managers are able to make better decisions on other aspect of the train because they have access to these integrated databases. This database warehouse could provide them with reports on how best to stock the galley, or what types of alcohol to have on hand in the Lounge car. Reports might show that travelers on specific train trips, like Friday trips from Paris to the Mediterranean, or Sunday return trips to Paris will consume more liquor and more elaborate brunch or dinner’s than weekday trips. Thus, management can better stock the train to assure that high demand items will not be out of stock when requested by the train travelers. SNCF passengers rarely disappointed with their trip. Thus, they will plan to go by train the next time their plans allow it. Keeping the customer happy helps generate repeat customers.

With a data warehouse like SNCF’s; managers can spend more time understanding what the data is telling them. Previously they were spending the time tracking down the needed information. In a traditional setting, the information requested might be in various databases. Companies would have to spend many staff hours trying to find the information they need and then many more hours trying to translate the information into a usable form. More companies need to invest the time and money necessary to develop good data warehouses. In the long run, they will save themselves money and will provide for a central database management that can be used to provide reports that will help reduce costs and increase revenue. This is the goal of almost every business.

The French National Railroad has learned the value of data warehousing. They have become one of Frances most prized possessions. A far cry from the chugging steam-puffing bureaucrat who spends their entire day trying to find the data they need for a report. SNCF has the data at their finger-tips that allows them more time to evaluate, plan and implement changes instead of looking for the data.

Works Cited
Senn, James A. Information Technology in Business: Principles, Practices, and Opportunities. Second Edition. Saddle River, NJ:Prentice Hall, 1998.

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