Implemention Technology
Data Warehouse Design, Administration and Management
  ShowCase STRATEGY
  Hyperion Essbase/400
Warehouse Engine
  IBM AS/400 Advanced Server

Through a full line of medical imaging systems encompassing x-ray, vascular, MRI, CT, nuclear medicine and ultrasound equipment, Toshiba has become the world's third largest manufacturer of medical imaging systems and the leading manufacturer of ultrasound equipment. Toshiba Medical Systems, Japan, sells more than $2 billion in equipment annually to leading hospitals, doctors and research facilities worldwide.

Tustin, California-based Toshiba America Medical Systems (TAMS) serves the U.S. market as a subsidiary of Toshiba Medical Systems. Recently, Toshiba Medical Systems charged the subsidiary with gaining the leadership position in the United States, ensuring that Toshiba's Medical Systems Division, in turn, becomes number one worldwide. To achieve this goal, the company has identified a fourfold strategy:

  • Contribute to the betterment of the healthcare community with creative and value-oriented products,
  • Focus on total customer satisfaction using innovative marketing strategies,
  • Achieve a reasonable profit for its customers and for TAMS, and
  • Attract, develop and motivate an outstanding team.

TAMS' focus on growth has resulted in a 28 percent revenue increase over the last two years. In addition, Toshiba Medical Systems' New York headquarters group began requiring a preliminary monthly financial close within two working days. By closing its books faster and subsequently issuing earnings releases earlier, TAMS would enhance shareholder relations. Initially, this deadline was difficult for TAMS to meet, and the company spent several days copying and retyping data from a variety of different sources into a series of spreadsheets in order to produce customized reports for each area of the business. Still, the reports they were able to deliver had undergone only minimal analysis.
With all of these forces converging, TAMS recognized the need for accurate, easily accessible information that would help its employees understand both the financial and sales aspects of their business. In addition, TAMS needed a set of tools that would automate the reporting process, allowing professionals to spend their time conducting data analysis rather than data entry.

Initially, TAMS implemented Arbor Software's Essbase (now Hyperion) on an NT server. While Essbase provided functionality and a solid tool for end users, it did not provide the same level of automatic operations, reliability and performance the company had experienced running its transactional systems on the AS/400.

To better meet its business intelligence needs, TAMS migrated all of its business intelligence applications to the AS/400, implementing AS/400 Advanced Server DB2 for AS/400 and ShowCase STRATEGY's multidimensional Essbase/400 product. The solution took eight months to implement and provided a system that was compatible with TAMS' existing SSA BPCS transaction processing environment. Initially, TAMS has 40 registered users and 10 concurrent users averaging more than 100 queries per month.

Using STRATEGY, TAMS has built several analytical models that automatically consolidate actual, projected and derived data while maintaining tight links to relational data. The company is currently running a total of nine STRATEGY applications ­ including three production and six development ­ on this single machine environment.

The profit and loss model enables TAMS to provide its Japan headquarters with financial statements at month's end and helps to analyze actual versus budgeted figures for multiple years. Employees can now access data that was not easily retrievable in the past. Users spend more of their time analyzing the data instead of keying it in, and generating monthly reports takes minutes instead of days. In fact, the system has bought Toshiba two additional days at the end of each month, a critical element for timely financial reporting.

In addition, management is now afforded additional time to spot trends, perform detailed analysis and develop meaningful go-to-market action plans for their products based on "speed of thought" information. Instead of spending time trying to put the information together, Toshiba executives are using better business analysis to develop strategies for exploiting new business opportunities. Requests that took weeks to satisfy with a customized report now take minutes and are delivered without IS staff involvement. For the finance department, responding to queries from the president and CFO with quicker and more accurate information expedites decision making and business directives.

Recently, TAMS also employed ShowCase STRATEGY to develop a budget collection application that delivers a more accurate budget and prediction reporting. STRATEGY enables TAMS financial users to perform advanced trend analysis by retrieving numbers in real time and measuring them against original budget predictions and then making adjustments accordingly. The budget model automatically calculates all accounts and cost centers, regardless of size, based on historical trends. After calculating the entire financial mix, the model allows for budget refinement at the most detailed level and reallocates the budget back up to the overall profit and loss report, eliminating the need to perform manual calculations and data entry. In the end, TAMS has a refined and accurate budget. Remote users can now make budget projections in all five of the company's sales regions. In addition, the application shaved weeks off the forecasting process and virtually eliminated manual error.

TAMS also built a Seats Model using STRATEGY, which enables the company to monitor the daily number of users accessing Essbase/400 and their departments. These numbers allow the company to forecast the need for additional license purchases in each department.

Practical Advice

Before implementing a data warehouse, plan on increasing (or redeploying) staff for full-time business intelligence development and support. Also, be aware that once the business intelligence system is available, users will begin to treat it as mission critical, so operations are important. Plan an environment that allows developers to build new models. Don't allow developers to update production data; refresh all data from the relational data warehouse for recovery and automated data collection purposes.

It's important to establish a data warehousing (formal or informal) platform for data collection and messaging before loading to Essbase/400. Also be sure to create an infrastructure to automate change management including changes to outline, data load or calc scripts promoted from development to production.

Make sure you have data center personnel in place to support production operations and security.

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