REVIEWER: Sean Poccia, Senior director of information services for Comag Marketing Group.

BACKGROUND: Comag Marketing Group LLC, a jointly owned company of Condé Nast Publications, Inc. and The Hearst Corporation, provides many of the world’s leading magazine publishers with comprehensive sales, marketing and promotional services through a network of global sales venues, including mass market, direct-to-retail and specialty market channels.

PLATFORMS: The Composite Information Server runs on Microsoft Windows 2000, 2003, XP; SunOS 5.8/Solaris 9 and higher; Red Hat Enterprise Linux AS 3, 4, 32/64 bit; SUSE Linux Enterprise Server v9.3, v10, 32/64 bit; IBM AIX 5.2, 52000-04; and HP-UX 11.11, B.11.11.0412.5 Gold Base 11i.

PROBLEM SOLVED: We provide reader-buying trend information to our more than 25 publisher clients. With advertising revenues down and newsstand sales decreasing, these publishers cannot afford to miss out on potential sales. Accordingly, we implemented a customer relationship management system to deliver faster reporting on retail newsstand conditions and merchandising trends, arming our clients with timely and accurate information for better responses to changing consumer demands. With our Oracle Financials handling back-office transactions and Business Objects providing operation and trend reporting, key business metrics are provided to sales and operations on a timelier basis. Previously, we relied on a legacy application to aggregate and report on field data; the final data product lagged behind the collection process by as much as six weeks. The Composite Information Server allows us to take information from Oracle Financials, CMG data warehouse, CRM and other legacy systems and expose them through common data services without replicating data to another database. As the most flexible and scalable option for responding to data synchronization and multiple uses within a batch-oriented environment, the Composite Information Server’s development and administration places minimal demands on our 22-member IT staff. While the larger CRM project is still underway, the Composite deployment has already yielded benefits including producing reports about the condition and stocking of magazines within 24 hours of collecting the information from the field. More comprehensive analysis reports are available within one week rather than six weeks, allowing for monthly and quarterly titles to be replenished on newsstands while still within their on-sale dates. The publishers can also adjust initial orders to specific locations, based on timely information and not two-month-old trending data. Our ultimate goal is to expose additional sales opportunities while improving reporting data quality in near real time. We expect this initiative to drive higher profits and deliver greater customer satisfaction as a result. We are experiencing a 5 percent efficiency gain for each field merchandiser due to the elimination of double and triple data entry. This additional time saved is now spent in-store verifying store condition and merchandising products where needed. The ability to provide near real-time data to the field staff from multiple back-end systems exposed through CRM with the Composite Information Server has streamlined our operational model and reduced time to market of critical business data by 50 percent.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The Composite-based Application Data Hub delivers the following capabilities: Data virtualization for faster, more accurate reporting, which accelerates intelligent responses to customer demands; abstraction of data sources to simplify application access and integration, reduce development time and provide a single version of the truth across multiple data sources; query optimization to meet stringent application performance requirements without impacting operational source systems’ performance; rapid development using a model-based development approach to produce quick and cost-effective development without programming; and flexibility represented by loose coupling of data sources and consumers within the Application Data Hub to simplify the addition of new applications, evolving data sources, optimizing queries, etc.

STRENGTHS: The main strength is the ability to rapidly deploy data services from multiple disparate sources, thus shortening the software development lifecycle.

WEAKNESSES: We implemented custom functionality for error notification, audit reporting and full support of event-driven activities. We expect this to become part of the Composite product in a future version.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We considered both internal and external data integration offerings. In August of 2008, we selected Composite Software because it offered the right combination of price and product features.

DELIVERABLES: We currently deliver Composite-supported data services sourced from complex data to our field consumers, bridging the information gap between legacy data and new enterprise applications, and increasing operational efficiencies.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Vendor support is consistently reliable and fast.

DOCUMENTATION: The training and documentation are easy to use.

Composite Information Server 5.1
Composite Software, Inc.
2655 Campus Drive, Suite 200
San Mateo, CA 94403
(650) 227-8200

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