REVIEWER: Karen Kurtzweil, sales manager for Federal Equipment.

BACKGROUND: Federal Equipment is dedicated to providing its customers – large and small – with quality preowned equipment, outstanding service and competitive prices. With warehouses in Cleveland, Ohio, Federal Equipment maintains one of the largest inventories in the industry. More than a supplier, Federal Equipment also offers a complete range of specialized services, including the liquidation and auction of process lines and manufacturing facilities as well as equipment appraisal and leasing.

PLATFORMS: Microsoft NT, SQL Server and Data Transformation Services (DTS).

PROBLEM SOLVED: Prior to using BlueSky Business Intelligence Portal, we were unable to easily track sales and understand our most profitable customers, sales reps and products. In addition, we were not able to proactively market new products to those customers who had requested information or quotes for products that were no longer available. We did not understand who our customers and prospects were and which product categories were of interest to them.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: BlueSky is running flawlessly. It has extensive analysis capability that we are only just discovering. In the future, we will be using BlueSky's ability to internally publish any type of documents and reports. We also hope to allow our partners to access the portal for publication of reports and documents. In addition, BlueSky has built-in security, eventually allowing partners to query the database for certain information that would be specifically relevant. For example, a partner may want to find its top five customers and their most frequent purchases.

STRENGTHS: The strengths of the product are considerable. BlueSky gives us access to information in a way that was never before possible. Because it is extremely easy to use, the learning curve is minimal. Other query tools we researched were extremely expensive for only the interface. For less than the cost of the query tool alone, BlueSky Technologies built the data warehouse and the BlueSky Business Intelligence Portal.

WEAKNESSES: The weakness of the portal is probably in the publishing capability. It is able to publish any type of document, but there is currently no versioning of the documents.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Our main selection criteria included functionality, ease of use, completeness and price. Not only was BlueSky's functionality expansive, but we were extremely impressed by the underlying architecture that pulled the data from the sources into another database for querying. BlueSky Analyzer then allowed us to query the database without affecting the performance of the transactional system. The underlying database is designed to optimize query performance. Finally, price was very important. BlueSky Business Intelligence Portal was extremely cost- effective. Additionally, BlueSky Technologies was truly interested in the value they brought to Federal Equipment.

DELIVERABLES: Because the application can easily be modified by each company, some of our reports vary from the reports of other companies. Our reports deliver cost, price and quantity information on product categories, subcategories and items. We can also determine profitability by sales rep and compare the number of sales reps' quotes to the number of closed deals to calculate a percent-closed number. We can look at sales by region, sales rep, customer, product, year, month, etc. We can also trend sales over time. Information that previously took weeks to acquire (if we could get it at all), now takes minutes. In addition, BlueSky Portal enables me to proactively market new products to customers who have requested information in the past.

VENDOR SUPPORT: BlueSky Technologies not only lived up to the commitment of the contract, but we've been extremely impressed by their responsiveness to our questions. We do not have an extensive IT staff at Federal Equipment; and on a couple of occasions when we had problems, BlueSky Technologies actually sent someone out at no charge to help us. They fixed the problem both times – even though it wasn't related to BlueSky. In addition, they were very helpful training the users and answering our technical calls.

DOCUMENTATION: The product is very easy to use. The analysis tool has a nice cheat sheet for users to follow.

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