PLATFORMS: AVANCO implements data mart and data warehousing systems in many hardware environments including HP, UNIX, Sun Solaris, Vax VMS and Intel-based Windows NT platforms. Oracle Discoverer 3.1 is used to access and analyze relational data stored in an Oracle v7.x or 8.0 database systems as well as Informix, Sybase, DB2 and RDb.

BACKGROUND: AVANCO International, Inc., is a software and systems integration firm that implements on-line production and data warehousing relational database applications.

PROBLEM SOLVED: AVANCO's clients have the same common problems regardless of the vertical market in which they compete. Access to information embedded in corporate data is often elusive. Too many clients require immediate access to their corporate information assets and can't get to them with an overworked IT department. Technology managers waste time reacting to corporate requests to write customized reports for internal needs when they could proactively work to add value within the organization. Even large international and regional firms spend weeks keying data from customized reports into spreadsheets for mission-critical functions which include sales and marketing needs, managerial reports and boardroom-style reports. A change to reporting requirements often takes weeks to implement. Oracle Discoverer offers an easy-to-use, intuitive interface which places the power of corporate reporting and decision support in the hands of decision makers. The return on Investment (ROI) from IT savings and improved customer response alone is worth the cost.

STRENGTHS: Oracle Discoverer is incredibly easy to use. Our clients typically need a half day of training on the capabilities of the tool, and then they are very quickly able to perform drill analysis and exception reporting. Discoverer offers robust capabilities that export reports at the click of a button to Excel, Lotus, HTML, Oracle Reports-RDF, Express, comma delimited files and others formats. Long-running queries can be scheduled in batch mode to be run at a later time. Discoverer's unique and sophisticated summary management capability provides "aggregate awareness" which allows the tool to use summary tables to satisfy queries, a huge performance booster. Sophisticated meta data management functions, included in the Administration edition of the tool, allow database administrators to create business areas, enforce security, define complex folders, conditions and hierarchies to provide end users with an integrated view of their business and a flexible decision support environment.

WEAKNESSES: Discoverer's Web support is limited to static HTML publishing today. Oracle expects to have dynamic ad hoc capabilities in Java-based WebDiscoverer soon.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Our clients have selected Discoverer because it was easy to use, tightly integrated with the Oracle database and the Oracle development tools and very powerful in its reporting ability.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Oracle support is broken down into these categories: bronze, silver and gold support. All offer excellent support for the Discoverer Tool. Silver and gold support provide 24x7 response and a 1-800 number to call.

DOCUMENTATION: Documentation is excellent and the Discoverer's on-line quick tour provides an excellent primer that will get users into production immediately.

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