BACKGROUND: AutoNation, Inc. is the world's largest automotive retailer and the country's second largest provider of vehicle rental services with more than 400 automotive franchises in 23 states, representing 39 manufacturer brands. AutoNation's revenue increased from $9 billion in 1997 to more than $16 billion in 1998, earning Fortune Magazine's prestigious title of the fastest-growing company in America.
PLATFORMS: At AutoNation we are running Blue Isle InTouch and Hyperion Essbase on Windows NT 4.0 with an Oracle RDBMS running on UNIX.
PROBLEM SOLVED: AutoNation executives needed virtual real-time, Web-based access to dealership performance, providing them with critical information to quickly determine which dealerships to maintain, acquire or sell as well as analyze demographic details on what new markets to enter and where to best spend marketing dollars. Challenges involved integrating and automating the transfer of dealer performance data from an Oracle database to Hyperion Essbase OLAP Server. The high visibility and critical nature of the information required high levels of process reliability and status awareness. Failures had to be quickly identified and resolved to ensure end-user success. Using Hyperion Essbase and Blue Isle InTouch, AutoNation successfully implemented a completely automated analytic solution. Reliability and availability of the overall system are maintained through InTouch's integration with Hyperion Essbase. The state of each process is monitored and failures automatically activate alerts providing details for rapid troubleshooting and resolving production issues. By detecting processing failures instantly, AutoNation's support staff can act quickly to ensure data integrity and timely delivery of analytic information.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Blue Isle InTouch is a packaged process automation and data flow solution transforming Hyperion Essbase production environments into streamlined 24x7 hands-
off operations. System maintenance processes to backup, restructure, load and calculate Essbase applications are easily defined, eliminating development and maintenance of complex administrative scripts. Production processes are automatically performed by the InTouch Automation Server, running jobs as files are updated, e-mail requests arrive, external processes complete or as scheduled. The InTouch Content Management Server manages the flow of information by collecting data for production jobs and distributing reports. Native file transfer and integration to leading messaging and e-mail systems provide a framework for the flexible and efficient flow of information.
STRENGTHS: Blue Isle InTouch easily installed and configured to integrate with Hyperion Essbase and Microsoft Outlook within minutes. The seamless integration with Essbase helped us avoid writing complex scripts for batch processing. We found InTouch to be very stable and flexible enough to handle our process automation requirements without customization. Once defined, system jobs ran regularly and reliably. We especially like the proactive feedback provided by status notifications, keeping us informed on the state of each process.
WEAKNESSES: During our initial setup we would have liked to copy and modify existing jobs. This feedback was given to Blue Isle, and this capability will be available in the InTouch 3.0 release.
SELECTION CRITERIA: Blue Isle InTouch was the only solution that met four major requirements: integration between Oracle and Hyperion Essbase, elimination of human intervention during production cycles, increased status awareness and messaging, and delivery of significant cost reductions. An additional advantage was leveraging InTouch as a frictionless framework for the efficient and reliable flow of valuable, time- sensitive information across our organization.
DELIVERABLES: Hyperion Essbase and Blue Isle InTouch delivered a complete automated solution capable of producing updated daily P&L reports on all of our dealerships located across the United States. The automation provided by InTouch afforded our deployment team the time needed to implement the system from concept to production in only six weeks. We estimate this will translate to annual savings of 3,000 person hours.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Blue Isle provided excellent pre- and post-sales support. They worked closely with us to understand exactly what we were looking for. Their team of professionals consistently delivered on the challenges we presented with a positive, results- oriented work ethic.
DOCUMENTATION: Blue Isle's online documentation was comprehensive and complete.
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