Patrick's BI plans 'business as usual' as Toll looms

Patrick's BI plans "business as usual" as Toll looms

Patrick is taking a "business as usual" approach to a large-scale business intelligence (BI) deployment despite not yet knowing the full ramifications of its just-completed AU$6.2 billion acquisition by Toll Holdings.

Patrick's systems manager, development, Peter Jakrot, told ZDNet Australia it was "too early to tell" how the May transaction would affect its plans, which see several new BI projects scheduled to follow the recent deployment of an air cargo throughput management system.

The diversified stevedoring company was "just continuing as usual", recognising that "we need to deliver the solutions or we won't have happy customers", Jakrot said.

Patrick's "steady as she goes" approach to BI comes despite what are expected to be profound ramifications for the business as a result of the acquisition.

Transport specialist Toll struck the decisive blow in the bitter, nine-month takeover battle for Patrick in March by securing a deal with the competition regulator that would see the acquisition proceed provided several assets owned by the two parties are disposed of.

The sale -- of assets worth around AU$1.5 billion -- includes a 50 percent stake in rail freight company Pacific National, Patrick's Bass Strait shipping and forwarding business, a vehicle haulage business and auto handler Prix Car. Toll is still believed to be considering what to do with a majority stake in Virgin Blue Holdings, acquired as part of the Patrick transaction.

Toll boss Paul Little has pledged to deliver savings of between AU$60 and AU$65 million within three years by reducing duplication and increasing efficiencies.

Patrick has no plans to take on work beyond the BI projects it has already on its books.

These include a measurement of cargo throughput and storage yard density, road fleet maintenance and engineering costs, as well as redevelopment of several existing analysis systems.

"[We're] not in a position to take on any more, we've stretched our resources further than I'd have liked them to be stretched," Jakrot said.

Until recent weeks, Patrick had relied upon an ageing SQL-based data warehouse and Microsoft extract, transform and load (ETL) tool to consolidate data from a raft of operational systems, including a PeopleSoft enterprise resource planning system, into Cognos BI and enterprise planning.

The takeover target had decided to migrate to a Cognos 8 platform with enterprise planning, with the functionality key to plans to double the number of business intelligence and enterprise planning users -- to 250 -- within a year of deploying the new platform.

Patrick plans to redevelop up to 80 percent of its existing BI systems in the new Cognos 8 environment by the end of 2006, with the remaining applications to follow.

Jakrot added the Cognos ETL offering -- more robust and scalable than its Microsoft predecessor -- was expected to reduce the cost of projects by 10 to 20 percent.