Onsite: Alaska Airlines Takes Direct Route to Analyze Customer Data

Integration and ETL weren't practical, so the midsize airline took a federated approach to gain better customer insight.

As director of CRM at Alaska Airlines, James Archuleta sets the road map for all customer-facing initiatives from both a technical and a business process perspective. When he joined the airline in 2004, he set his sites on creating "process-driven analytics," but knew that meant joining disparate systems at the metadata level.

"A lot of companies have metadata but don't realize its potential," Archuleta says. "Taking a metadata-driven approach helps you understand the relationships between disparate data sources and standardize your business rules. With any product, it's critical to understanding business rules and how your data relates to these rules."

It's too easy to attribute Archuleta's choice of Siebel Analytics as loyalty to a product he helped introduce during his tenure at Siebel. But Archuleta's focus on metadata predates those days. Previously, Archuleta spent 10 years at Motorola Semi-Conductor, culminating in the position of senior staff scientist directing the integration of disparate data sources via a metadata layer.

To form a clearer picture of the customer and key operational issues, Archuleta recommends "taking a step back, looking at your entire warehouse and understanding the data relationships on a logical level." That's not only the key to understanding data integrity issues across the organization, it's the key to clear communication and consensus between IT and the business community.