Sometimes the Application Comes First

By Kirk Golding | March 01, 2007

If the application is the chicken and the infrastructure is the egg, then sometimes the chicken comes first. In many cases, operators acquire bandwidth -- storage capacity, network size, etc. -- and will then begin adding applications that the newly empowered infrastructure can support. But this is not always the case. Sometimes, the birth of a real killer application leads to the need for an infrastructure that can support it. Such was the case with Silverton Casino Hotel Lodge.

Upscale luxury meets lodge living at Silverton Casino, a contemporary property located just minutes off the Las Vegas strip. Like all casinos, the property needed to better understand and analyze slot machine performance to optimize use.

See the floor
Silverton moved from looking at numbers in spreadsheets to visualizing the entire slot floor as a thermal map using a product called seePower from Compudigm International ( www.compudigm.com ). Spreadsheets are adequate when looking at the top- or bottom-performing machines, but give no insight into slot machine location and nearby machine performance. Silverton can now view specific time frames and see how the machines are performing by a number of different key performance indicators (KPIs), for example, volume of play, actual win, etc. The KPIs are represented by a thermal map -- red indicates high performance, yellow, medium performance, and blue, poor performance -- which allows for fast and easy assessment. What used to take hours of wading through numbers in spreadsheets is reduced to minutes with a visualization that shows much more information.

For the application to perform, Silverton needed a data warehouse. Teradata ( www.teradata.com ) was selected because of its reputation and existing relationship with Compudigm. The three parties worked as a team to implement the system.

Store the data
An enterprise data warehouse is capable of containing all the information about an organization. The Teradata system allows access to disparate facts very quickly using high-performance parallel database technology. This sets Teradata apart, in that no matter how much information the user has, the response time stays the same, as long as the user is within capacity. Not all systems scale this way -- in some cases, as a data warehouse increases in size due to the amount of data stored, the system response time for information delivery is slowed.

In the case of Silverton, the visualization shows all the coin-in and coin-out activity of each machine. The Casino can pull that information from all the machines in about 30 seconds, and feed it to the data visualization application, where it is rendered.

The application allows the Casino to look at simple visualizations without going through reams of paper, tables, spreadsheets, and charts; operations can now spend more time thinking about and acting upon the data than compiling the data for analysis.

Silverton staff can immediately walk the floor, for example, to determine if an underperforming machine is being affected by environmental factors such as loud music or a cold spot. Actions can be taken quickly to correct a problem and get that machine back up to optimum performance.

Eventually, as Silverton grows, it plans to use visualizations for all aspects of the property, inculding hotel, food and beverage, and marketing information.

Kirk Golding is vice president of information technology at the Silverton Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he focuses on aligning technology initiatives with business needs.

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