BACKGROUND: In addition to being the nation's inter-city passenger train company, Amtrak is the nation's largest provider of contract-commuter service for state and regional authorities. Amtrak trains operate in 45 states on more than 22,000 route miles and carry more than 75 million inter-city and commuter passengers annually.
PLATFORMS: We are running Brio's client/server and Web-based products on Windows 95 and NT 4.0. The Brio.Enterprise Server is operating on Sun Solaris on Sun 2000E hardware.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Amtrak's data warehousing and business intelligence strategy is part of an initiative to transform the business into a profitable, competitive operation. In response to congressional measures that will phase out all federal subsidies by 2002, we needed information systems that would help us become profitable by that time. We recognized that being able to provide decision support information to our operating divisions was the key to managing costs through more informed planning. Previously, access to information was via legacy systems or delving into micro fiche reports. The capabilities of Brio.Enterprise are ideally suited to specific business initiatives targeted at increasing profitability including workforce management, product line development and analysis and operations management. For example, we're now able to analyze ridership statistics and trends for our current product lines; and we will do it in the future for Acela, our new high-speed rail service in the Northeast. Brio helps us measure, track and report employee hours and closely monitor ridership and revenue data to refine service schedules. We can also gauge the impact of external forces such as weather and associated snow removal and maintenance costs.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Brio.Enterprise provides seamless query, reporting and analysis capabilities for data in our multidimensional as well as relational systems. On our intranet, eight predesigned data models are available for users to build their own ad hoc queries and reports. With Brio.Enterprise 6.0, Web and client/server-based users schedule their own queries and reports to be automatically processed. Product managers use the OnDemand Server to interactively refresh reports on the intranet with the latest ridership data, gauging the success of specific service offerings and promotional efforts.
STRENGTHS: Rapid deployment was our overriding consideration and Brio.Enterprise's ease of deployment was the deciding factor in our decision to implement. Brio.Enterprise was up and running in our test environment in just over one day. The system provides unmatched ease of experience for IT and end users alike with minimal administration requirements and an intuitive interface that we could deploy throughout the organization.
WEAKNESSES: Previously, Brio lacked the design to interface well with Informix MetaCube. While there are still some minor issues, the Brio.Enterprise 6.0 release is now completely re-architected for an easier user experience, including native connectivity to Informix MetaCube 4.0. Some training will be required. The release also allows approximately 225 client/server and Web-based users to schedule their own jobs to be processed automatically.
SELECTION CRITERIA: In addition to our rapid deployment requirements, we selected Brio.Enterprise for its versatility in connecting to our multiple data sources, including native connection to Informix MetaCube as well as connections to DB2 and SQL Server. The product integrates query, reporting and analysis in one solution, saving time and money and eliminating the need to train users on multiple products.
DELIVERABLES: Brio.Enterprise products include comprehensive features which allow our payroll administrators, product managers and operational analysts to query, analyze and report on up-to-the-minute rail operations and manpower as well as revenue and ridership data. Brio.Enterprise easily handles large volumes of data, giving us the capability to pinpoint different factors that affect profitability across the organization. Now we can effectively measure the success of product lines and promotional efforts, reconcile labor costs between the union and the workforce, and better control and plan all aspects of our business.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Brio's pre- and post-sale support is readily accessible and responsive to our needs. The best part of working with Brio is that the company provides a comprehensive solution for our complex decision processing requirements.
DOCUMENTATION: After only three days of training, we were able to put together a one-day course at Amtrak to bring users quickly up to speed. Brio's online help has also proved invaluable as an additional end-user reference.
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