REVIEWER: Ralf Månsson, CIS manager for Elbolaget i Norden AB.

BACKGROUND: Elbolaget, a Swedish energy company, finds itself in a very competitive market due to the fact that the Swedish electricity market has been recently deregulated. The company's goal is to become the leading energy company in the Nordic countries.

PLATFORMS: This data warehouse runs on SQL Server 7.0, Outlook 2000 with Decision Support Panel (DSP) add-in to Outlook and OLAP Services.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Elbolaget needed to make fast and correct economic decisions with up-to-date information and needed to compare information from different business applications. In addition, we needed to increase the service to our customers so they can control their energy consumption in an easy way. The solution was a decision support system that can be used internally (within the company) and externally (by the customers) with the ability to compare information from different business applications. The system is a data warehouse with a DSP client and a Web site. The internal users within the company use DSP to analyze data, create charts, export data to Microsoft Excel and e-mail the analysis to colleagues in a very flexible way to support their decision making. The external users ­ the customers ­ use the data warehouse on the Web and have the ability to analyze their personal consumption. This can lead to a decrease in their energy costs and an increase in their awareness concerning their energy consumption. There will also be a closer customer relationship with Elbolaget.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The product integrates very well with Microsoft Outlook and Excel. Since DSP has the familiar Outlook interface, getting users started was easy. In the future, external users will be able to use the functionality of the product on the Web. New features are continuously introduced, constantly improving the ease of use for accessing and distributing analysis within the company. The Web access and the various file formats available when sending analysis as e-mail enables external users to access these analysis capabilities outside the organization.

STRENGTHS: The main strengths of the product are its integration with standard products such as Excel and Outlook, ease of use and ease of administration.

WEAKNESSES: The product is integrated with other products such as Excel and Outlook, but it would be an advantage to have more functionality in the product itself.

SELECTION CRITERIA: The major reason for selecting this product was its integration with Microsoft standard products ­ Excel and Outlook. The product is also easy to use and administer, and it is worth its price.

DELIVERABLES: The users have the ability to analyze data, create charts, export data to Excel and e-mail the analysis to colleagues. The users can analyze economical data such as budget and sales information. The users can also analyze their customers' energy consumption and costs. External users can analyze their own energy consumption and costs.

VENDOR SUPPORT: The collaboration with the vendor has worked out well. There is really no need for support or for much administration.

DOCUMENTATION: The users are comfortable with the product documentation and use it.

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