CATEGORY: BI Tools

REVIEWER: George Azrak, vice president of IS development for Domino's Pizza, Inc.

BACKGROUND: Domino's Pizza, Inc. is the world's leading pizza delivery company and largest privately held restaurant chain. Founded in 1960, Domino's 1999 retail sales exceeded $3 billion. With 1,700 franchisees operating more than 6,600 stores in 60 countries, supporting end-user information needs has been challenging.

PLATFORMS: Domino's Pizza uses Comshare DecisionWeb with Microsoft's SQL Server OLAP Services sitting on top of our Informix data warehouse. We have about 150 gigabytes of data.

PROBLEM SOLVED: With the goal of reaching all users with the daily information they needed in an intuitive, flexible format, the IS team presented company-wide users with a selection of solutions that had easy-to-use interfaces, and back ends that were compatible with Domino's relational data warehouse. Domino's chose Comshare DecisionWeb as the best decision support solution for helping the company's executive, regional and field marketing managers navigate daily point-of-sale data. Today, Comshare's Web-architected application serves multiple users at Domino's Pizza, keeping even remote users in touch with the information they need. Users work directly with business information for ad hoc reporting and develop applications using advanced data visualization and data mining techniques via Java-enabled Internet browsers.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Domino's marketing team felt most comfortable with Comshare's Web solution. We felt that the whole information supply chain would work well ­ from point of sale to delivery of the information to the desktops of our marketing managers and executives. The Comshare solution offers a low-maintenance alternative to traditional client/server-only applications including charting and intuitive drill down.

STRENGTHS: The rich functionality of Comshare's Web interface will allow us to provide consistent information delivery whether the user is at our headquarters, in one of our regional offices, in our international offices or on the road.

WEAKNESSES: Existing training and manuals clearly explain how to use the tool and develop applications, yet the training lacks the context of when and how to apply the tool to achieve insight and create competitive advantage.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We've assembled an impressive arsenal of tools to help us manage our business, but we needed an integrated system that allowed us to provide valuable information to a variety of information users in a straightforward, intuitive way. The system also needed to be flexible enough to deliver the unique information each user needed and felt comfortable with. Our power users praise some of the technology, but it can be overwhelming to other users. My responsibility, from an IS perspective, is to engage those other users while using existing resources.

DELIVERABLES: Comshare gives us a great deal of flexibility to tailor the system for an executive, middle manager, heavy-duty analyst and even a user who is just looking for some packaged information ­ we can serve all our users. Comshare's data visualization techniques for detecting hidden problems in operational data are a big hit with our users. Comshare DecisionWeb is another weapon in our arsenal that's going to open our data to a new class of users we have not reached before.

VENDOR SUPPORT: In addition to DecisionWeb's impressive functionality, we liked the fact that Comshare, unlike the other vendors, approached Domino's needs from a functional standpoint rather than a technical one only. Comshare looked at what our users needed before offering a technology solution. We felt comfortable with Comshare representatives who then asked themselves, "What technology can we bring to the table to fix these functional problems?"

DOCUMENTATION: The user documentation was developed by subject-matter experts who were able to focus on the business problem. Additional documentation describing the details of the content was integrated in DecisionWeb. This documentation explains the detail of the calculations used to derive the different measures as well as a definition of the terms used by Domino's. Missing in the documentation are guided-analysis manuals, books and guidelines on how to apply the tool to solve business problems. This limitation required developing additional training tutorials to supplement the software and the existing training materials. Tutorial PowerPoint presentations have been developed and continue to be developed to integrate our best practices into how the tool can and should be used.

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