REVIEWER: Alex Gamboa, director of IT/IS for Wilbur Curtis Company.
BACKGROUND: Founded in 1941, Curtis has remained a family-owned business that is committed to the principles of quality workmanship, personal loyalty and family values. The Curtis name is synonymous with a full line of the worlds most advanced commercial coffee brewing equipment, iced tea brewing systems and specialty beverage dispensers.
PLATFORMS: iQ4bis Analysis is running as a VMware virtual machine using Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition, nested on an HP ProLiant DL380 G5. The back-end database is Microsoft SQL Server 2005.
PROBLEM SOLVED: We did not have a single source for reporting sales and financial numbers. When someone needed sales history information, a new report had to be written using a third-party reporting tool or an ad hoc SQL query because he or she always wanted it different than the last one. We had multiple reporting authors at different skill levels using the reporting tools, and not all of them were familiar with our enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems database. People were getting different views of the same data and making decisions without all the information. Our users needed a method to get correct information consistently, and it needed to work as easily and seamlessly for the COO as for the person running the shop floor. Building the multidimensional cube for sales history in iQ4bis Analysis was not difficult. We took the popular dimensions of any business (i.e., items, customers, locations) and used all the standard measures, such as cost, price, margin and quantity. After defining dimensions, measures and what data to include, this became our bible for reporting sales history. Now we can give our users one aggregated view of the sales history data where they can quickly see how customers, items or regions are performing. If they recognize a downward trend, they simply slice and drill into the item or customer information to get further detail.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The user interface to iQ4bis Analysis is straightforward and requires little training. Hover over a dimension, and the cursor changes into a finger selector that, if clicked, will highlight that dimension, and all other dimensions in the other grids within the view will change to reflect the selected dimension. Hover over a measure, and the cursor changes into a blue plus sign letting you know that you can drill down further.
STRENGTH: The strengths of iQ4bis Analysis are many. The right-click menu features are very handy, including the ability to change dimensions and measures on the fly. You can swap your revenue measure for COGS and gain a whole new perspective on your data. Choosing the level of a hierarchical dimension is found in the right-click menu functionality as well and lets you drop down to that level as opposed to drilling through each level. The export to Excel feature works seamlessly and is frequently used by our organization.
WEAKNESSES: iQ4bis report feature could be made more robust by integrating it with an existing email system. As it stands, when you hit report, it will open a pseudo email window, placing the displayed data as the body of the email. You must then add your email contacts. You cannot use your email system to locate an address; you must manually add each one. Once you add them, they are then saved and have to be maintained separately.
SELECTION CRITERIA: The selection process for iQ4bis Analysis was a decision that made itself. The ease of use and installation was impressive. iQ4bis visited our site in 2004 to demonstrate their proof of concept, and in 48 hours we were looking at our sales history in ways we never knew existed.
DELIVERABLES: The most significant deliverable is the drop-in ad hoc report created for sales history. Now, when IT gets a request from someone for sales history data for a particular item or customer, we tell him or her to use iQ4bis Analysis, and if the information cant be found, then come back and we will help. Nine out of 10 times, the users never come back.
VENDOR SUPPORT: iQ4bis has been very supportive throughout our implementation and post-implementation process. Initially, we needed help in developing a rather complex cube. iQ4bis offered remote services from a development team member in New Zealand who walked us through a tough MDX formula. Their email support system works just as well. Replies are almost instantaneous. Another great support feature is the ability from within iQ4bis Analysis to click a button and see available updates and features.
DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is adequate, with filled screenshot explanations for the toolbar buttons as well as the different mouse pointers you will encounter during your use of iQ4bis Analysis.
iQ4bis Software Incorporated
24 Executive Park, Suite 200
Irvine, CA 92614
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