BACKGROUND: Headquartered in British Columbia, Ernex is a specialist in loyalty marketing and electronic marketing solutions. Leveraging the power of an intelligent network that gathers customers' purchasing data, Ernex provides businesses, such as Nike, Levi's, Eddie Bauer and Superstar, with tools to learn more about their customers and run targeted loyalty marketing promotions in real time.

PLATFORMS: Dell PCs, Microsoft Windows NT.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Our customers want up-to-the-minute information regarding the status of their loyalty campaigns. We conduct analysis of this data to help them to identify their customers and cater marketing programs to their buyers. As our business grew, our old solution couldn't manage the larger data sets that we began to amass. Customers often needed to wait days for information that they can now access in minutes using the Cognos solution. Cognos also enables us to offer a wider range of value-added services to our customers. For example, our old system required us to fax reports. Today, our customers can view their reports via the Web or use a self-e-mailing option that sends them messages every time a new report is generated. Customers using HTML publishing can easily analyze information without relying on IT.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The Cognos solution tracks information on individual customers and allows us to slice and dice and drill down on information in order to gain new insight about consumer behavior and preferences. Our extranet system, supported by Cognos, extends this analytical capability to our customers, enabling them to use the information to design new marketing programs. It allows us to provide solid, actionable data to customers with a wide cross section of technical levels. The Cognos solution continues to change and evolve with us.

STRENGTHS: The greatest strength of the Cognos solution is its ease of use for the business person. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to view the data. The Cognos vision also matches our own vision. Web deployment has been the key to our business model. Cognos has put a huge focus on the Internet and provided real solutions for e-business. Since our deployment, we have added a large number of new customers without increasing our IT staff, resulting in tremendous savings of time and money.

WEAKNESSES: The openness of the tool set is being addressed to provide vertical market customization.

SELECTION CRITERIA: In early 1999, we evaluated solutions from three vendors. We wanted a solution that would meet our current requirements and grow with us while fitting our budget. We chose Cognos for several reasons. The Cognos solution offered sophisticated analysis, allowing our customers to do predictive work. Also, with Cognos, we didn't need to hire a data analyst to interpret the reports into actionable business information and translate the data for the business people.

DELIVERABLES: Using the Cognos business intelligence solution, our customers can track purchases by demographics, geography or frequency; produce reports on their top customers; and analyze responses to specific promotions. In addition, Cognos has allowed us to extend the level of analysis we can offer to our customers. For example, we know that a customer is targeting 19-23 year old males but see through analysis that one-third of their customer base is 35-45 females; we can work with them to develop programs to address a market that they did not know was critical to their business.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Cognos is a tremendously responsive organization. Before, during and after the deployment, we had and continue to have a very open dialogue with the technical staff to ensure that the Cognos solution fits our environment and requirements. A huge selling point was that we only needed a browser for the deployment. There was nothing to install. It has been easy to make adaptations, and the changes are reflected immediately. That meant less time to get our customers up and running. Cognos' Web-based training also delivers education anytime, anywhere. There is no need to take time off and travel to a remote location.

DOCUMENTATION: The nature of the product makes it user friendly. Documentation is very complete.

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