PLATFORMS: Allina utilizes an Oracle7 data warehouse running on an IBM SP.

BACKGROUND: Minneapolis-based Allina Health System is a not-for-profit health care system serving people living in Minnesota, western Wisconsin and eastern North Dakota and South Dakota. Allina's integrated health care system of doctors, hospitals and health plans provides people with a lifetime of health care options and a full continuum of care--from prevention and wellness services, such as health screenings and immunizations, to the highest quality and technologically advanced inpatient and outpatient services. Allina owns and manages 19 hospitals and seven nursing homes and oversees one million health plan members. Annual revenues are $2.4 billion. Cognos PowerPlay and PowerPlay Server Web Edition are used by Allina to provide enterprise multidimensional analysis of corporate data through Netscape Navigator browser software on users' desktops. PowerPlay is used for creating interactive reports utilizing marketing, financial and patient activity data.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Allina is a large and diverse firm with a growing need to quickly share meaningful information, reports and analysis capabilities with its staff. IS received numerous requests for reports and data that weren't difficult to fulfill on a case-by-case basis, but together accounted for a significant amount of time and resources. Allina determined that Cognos self-serve reporting and analysis solution was easy to centrally administer and could save time and money. In addition, the graphical interface and ease of use of the products resulted in brief training periods and a low learning curve, allowing users to quickly adopt this business intelligence solution through Allina's intranet.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: PowerPlay Server Web Edition utilizes PowerPlay PowerCubes of multidimensional data generated by Impromptu and Transformer, allowing end users throughout Allina facilities to conduct powerful analysis of data using only their browser software. This makes the solution easy to deploy and minimizes the need for user training. PowerPlay Server Web Edition provides server-side processing, so multiple data views and answers are quickly returned to users.

STRENGTHS: The integrated Cognos Web solution allows fast end-user business intelligence that is easy to maintain and administer and does not require enterprise installation of additional software on each desktop. The intuitive graphical interface of each product enables fast end-user adoption, greatly reducing IS report and analysis requests. Powerful processing functionality delivers a response in seconds, decreasing overall network traffic. Reports, data and analysis can also be output to Microsoft Excel and other popular applications for further use.

WEAKNESSES: PowerPlay Server Web Edition provides various graphical representations of data, but has limited ability to customize output.

SELECTION CRITERIA: After an extensive evaluation, Cognos PowerPlay Server Web Edition, PowerPlay and Impromptu were adopted due to overall ease of use, low cost, extensive functionality and native support for Windows NT.

DELIVERABLES: Users throughout Allina can obtain and create their own regular and ad hoc reports and conduct revealing analysis of vast amounts of data with minimal IS assistance. This allows IS more time to focus on other issues and enables users to quickly use and share information for faster, more informed decision making. The end result is better service to our members and a strategic business intelligence infrastructure that ensures efficiency.

VENDOR SUPPORT: On-line support was excellent and was supplemented by responsive telephone and on-site support as necessary.

DOCUMENTATION: Excellent hard-copy documentation was provided during training.

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