BusinessObjects XIREVIEWER: Erik Brokaw, enterprise systems architect for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City.
BACKGROUND: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (BCBSKC) is the largest not-for-profit health insurer in Kansas City.
PLATFORMS: Microsoft Windows 2003 Enterprise Server installed on dual BL20p Blade Servers.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City had several thousand Microsoft Access databases throughout the organization, along with Sybase, DB2/UDB and SQL Server applications and a variety of flat file formats. It was extremely difficult to pull information from different platforms together for performance and business trend analysis. In addition, BCBSKC had multiple business intelligence tools throughout the organization. By standardizing on BusinessObjects XI, we were able to pare down to one BI vendor for all our BI needs.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: BusinessObjects XI offers Web-based access to standard reports and ad hoc queries, which enables a much broader set of users to benefit from BI with little or no training. BusinessObjects XI will eventually be used in every department in the company, including finance, sales, marketing and human resources, as well as medical and quality management. As more and more users access BI using BusinessObjects XI, we will be able to operate more efficiently. BusinessObjects XI will provide the company with extreme insight into claims information, which is the core of the company's business. For example, with BusinessObjects XI, our users can examine claims over time and monitor trends to help its members better manage their health. In addition, BusinessObjects XI users are able to track, understand, and manage detailed patient information in order to help better manage costs. BusinessObjects XI ensures that information gets to the people who need it and who can make a difference in our day-to-day business. By standardizing on BusinessObjects XI we have also reduced the number of BI tools in the organization, consolidating support, maintenance and upgrade paths, and leading to greater cost savings and efficiency.
STRENGTHS: The integration of BusinessObjects and Crystal Reports unites two key information processes and repositories within our organization, enabling deeper and more comprehensive analysis of business trends and key performance indicators. The ability to provide Web access to data and ad hoc queries, which opens up business intelligence to a much broader range of users, will lead to better decision making at every level of the organization.
WEAKNESSES: While all of the Business Objects front-end capabilities can use a single semantic layer, two are still available, which can be confusing. Multiple tools can access OLAP data, but it's not always clear which is optimal. The company has executed against its published "road map" so far, and we expect this to be addressed later this year.
SELECTION CRITERIA: Prior to BusinessObjects XI, we had multiple point solutions, including earlier versions of BusinessObjects and Crystal Reports as well as WebFocus, Microsoft Query and Microsoft Access. The successful experience with Business Objects products, along with the new capabilities of BusinessObjects XI and its integration with Crystal Reports, allowed us to consolidate our existing licensing and eliminated the need to evaluate other products.
DELIVERABLES: BCBSKC uses BusinessObjects XI for production reporting, ad hoc query and analysis, and report scheduling purposes. Starting in the second half of 2005, we will begin using BusinessObjects XI for process tracking and executive dashboards.
VENDOR SUPPORT: BCBSKC has experienced a superior level of customer support from Business Objects. Response from Business Objects technical support was found to be accurate and timely.
DOCUMENTATION: Business Objects provided a great deal of documentation packed with in-depth technical information, business examples, and advice on troubleshooting and best practices. The documentation was easy to understand and access. BCBSKC could go online, have a CD shipped, or access online help systems or multimedia. We were able to run the BusinessObjects XI product suite and keep it functioning successfully using the documentation provided by Business Objects.
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