REVIEWER: Jim Szatkowski, vice president of program and data management services at Distribution Market Advantage (DMA).

BACKGROUND: For more than a decade, DMA has been a national food service distribution system whose shareholders are 14 prominent regional food service distributors, including Gordon Food Service, Food Services of America, Ben E. Keith Foods and Shamrock Foods. The company was established to provide food service operators with the pricing, distribution and technological advantages of a national organization and the service priority of a local business. Customers include Chili's, Macaroni Grill and P.F. Chang's, and combined annual sales of the organization's 66 warehouses exceed $12 billion.

PLATFORMS: This is a hosted software solution, therefore no hardware is needed. DMA is able to access PivotLink Embedded Business Intelligence as a software-as-a-service (SaaS) application online. 

PROBLEM SOLVED: DMA is an extremely data-driven company. We need to gather information from our various operational systems to analyze and report on our day-to-day business. Because our company has grown so rapidly in the past five years, the data volumes were overwhelming our current system. We went looking for a business intelligence (BI) solution that scales, provides easy-to-use Web access and could be up and running in weeks. We were using a collection of Microsoft Access databases that did not provide the efficient, effective and results-driven analysis of our business that we needed. Consequently, we looked to SeaTab Software and implemented our company's first Web-based solution - the SaaS solution that we needed.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Approximately 60 people use DMA's PivotLink application and the number of users is increasing each month. The user base, 70 percent of whom are outside of DMA, includes DMA internal staff and customers. The application addresses the different needs of DMA staff, customers and distributors. For some companies, PivotLink provides subscription-based reporting tools where individuals simply receive customized reports of information most useful to them in their email inbox.

STRENGTHS: PivotLink Embedded Business Intelligence is intuitive and highly flexible in terms of working with the data to create a variety of reporting results. Additionally, the solution deployment was relatively turnkey and was fully implemented in about a two-week time period.

WEAKNESSES: It would be ideal to have as many people as possible using this application and benefiting from the results delivered, but we are not at capacity currently to train individuals. We would like to be able to allow for more end users of the solution.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We looked at other BI solution providers and had a clear-cut selection criteria checklist that was considered in the decision. We entered into a proof of concept with SeaTab where we gave specific data queries to see what results would be presented and therefore determine if the solution would be a fit for our needs. SeaTab excelled in experience with SaaS and solution integration. SeaTab's ability to rebrand also influenced our decision. Because the application is completely Web-based, we were able to use the highly customizable solution to create a unique DMA look and feel. Additionally, PivotLink Embedded has a robust security offering.

DELIVERABLES: SeaTab PivotLink is mainly used to produce usage reports. DMA personnel can instantly query, analyze and report on what they purchased. Presented in Excel-like reports and scorecard reporting documents, corporate purchasing executives have insight into the flow of product data. Owners of transactions can only see their own transactions.

VENDOR SUPPORT: SeaTab provided excellent vendor support during the implementation phase and continues to do so after the solution deployment. The most impressive and notable part of working with SeaTab is the responsiveness, both in terms of time and quality. SeaTab displayed the desire to help us with specific needs we had. We are not a technology company, but we are dependent on the success of our IT investments, and we are strategically aligned with our technology partners. Our success in the food service distribution industry is important to us, and that is why we chose SeaTab - a vendor consistently focused on being a leading provider of reporting and data analytics.

DOCUMENTATION: SeaTab PivotLink Embedded Business Intelligence is a SaaS solution and, therefore, product documentation is not applicable for this review.

PivotLink Embedded Business Intelligence
SeaTab Software, Inc.
15325 SE 30th Place, Suite 300
Bellevue, WA 98007
(425) 460-1000

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