Founded by biking enthusiasts in 1976 in Waterloo, Wisconsin, Trek Bicycle Corporation has grown from a staff of five people working out of a rented barn to a global company with 1,500 employees and seven wholly owned subsidiaries in Europe and Japan. The privately held company offers a full line of premium bicycles, components and accessories which it distributes in more than 65 countries.

As a dynamic, innovative company that competes in global markets and strives for excellence in every aspect of its business, Trek is committed to providing customers with timely delivery of quality products and services at competitive values. To achieve this mission, Trek encourages proactive change and creative innovation internally and accepts risk and failure as building components for ultimate success.

As consumer enthusiasm for bicycling gained momentum during the 1980s and through the 1990s, Trek established a strong reputation among biking aficionados and dealers around the world. Business boomed and Trek began to expand, adding more than 10 new facilities worldwide during the 1990s. Bicycle sales grew rapidly during this period, with Trek offering hundreds of different bike models and thousands of after-market products ­ creating new manufacturing and distribution challenges. Meanwhile, consolidation in the industry created larger competitors with growing market clout.

Faced with these manufacturing challenges and changing market conditions, Trek decided to consolidate its manufacturing capacity in order to operate more efficiently. Trek executives sought a scalable business intelligence system that would enable extensive data analysis to increase sales and win back the company's leading edge. The challenge was to create a system that would allow Trek managers to track its diverse market segments on a daily basis and adjust production accordingly.

Trek's previous business intelligence system required users to request reports from IS, a process that took days and often led to miscommunication and incorrect reports. The company needed a tool that would allow users to quickly and directly access the required information on a regular basis.

In searching for a scalable, integrated data warehouse system, Trek identified several key requirements. The company needed a single tool that could satisfy its wide range of internal users, from the president of the company to sales managers. The system also needed to have the drilling capability to produce a variety of reports, from high-level executive reports down to customer- and product-level detailed reports. Additionally, because Trek's IS staff and operations resources were limited, it was critical that the new system incorporate automated data harvesting functions.

With the common goal of making critical information more accessible to improve the company's decision-making process, Trek's IS department and sales team joined forces to determine how the new system would be implemented and which tools would build and maintain the warehouse. The company decided to closely link its internal manufacturing and sales systems and made it a priority to incorporate OLAP capabilities into the new combined solution. Trek evaluated multiple business intelligence options and ultimately chose ShowCase STRATEGY. Because all of Trek's data resides on the IBM AS/400 platform, ShowCase STRATEGY was a natural fit for the company. ShowCase STRATEGY is the only integrated, end-to-end AS/400 native solution available; and the business intelligence suite offers Trek the best combination of functionality and ease of use to support Trek's wide range of users.

After a four-month implementation, Trek's STRATEGY business intelligence system, Trek Enterprise Data Warehouse (TED), went live in February of 1998. ShowCase Essbase/400, a multidimensional cube that serves as the foundation for TED, is made up of invoice data loaded nightly from the company's AS/400 system. Trek relies on STRATEGY Warehouse Builder to populate TED's multidimensional database.

In addition to the STRATEGY Essbase/400 OLAP engine, Trek relies on STRATEGY's desktop products for ad hoc querying, report writing and data analysis. STRATEGY Analyzer helps Trek users to better address customer demand by allowing TED users to drill down to the most detailed level data for extensive data analysis, a task that was hard to perform prior to TED's implementation. Analyzer also allows TED users to identify and highlight customer purchasing and market trends and to perform calculations within the analysis report. Trek's manufacturing teams also rely heavily on STRATEGY Query and Report Writer to quickly create professional reports.

The entire Trek organization, from the sales staff to upper management, now relies on TED as its primary data source. Within the sales and manufacturing groups, approximately 40 users access the multidimensional database and about 60 people benefit from STRATEGY's relational tools.

Reports that used to take 20 to 30 hours now take only two to three minutes to compile. Before the STRATEGY implementation, if a sales manager wanted to know why a specific division had a lower or higher-than-average gross profit, IS had to run/write several different reports at different levels of detail, working with the sales person for several hours to manually sort through the data and uncover the answer. Now, managers can directly find answers in a matter of minutes or less without assistance from IS resources.

Trek's sales force relies on detailed product and current market information which is now directly and readily accessed without IS intervention. TED has also improved manufacturing forecasting and production decisions by providing Trek management with the ability to pinpoint critical growth factors and identify and view market trends, enabling the company to meet consumer demand and increase revenue.

In essence, ShowCase STRATEGY has enabled Trek to meet its business objectives. TED delivers a wealth of timely and accurate information to key users throughout the organization, resulting in better business decisions, increased sales, and a leading industry edge for Trek. Ultimately, the company will expand TED to handle all historical data queries, including manufacturing inventory data and other parts of the company's business.

Practical Advice

Involving business users on the front end of the project is a critical step in implementing an enterprise business intelligence system, because it ensures that the solution will truly suit their needs. By including one of the regional sales managers as a member of the TED development team, the solution is better equipped to address the needs of the entire sales force. For example, over time it became apparent that different sales managers needed slightly different types of reports. Thanks to input from the designated sales person on the development team, TED's design addresses all their needs. Proper training is also key to being able to optimize newly implemented systems.

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