The Fujisawa Pharmaceutical Company states that its mission is "to provide new, innovative products that contribute to the health and welfare of people all over the world by exploring the frontiers of human health and disease." The Over-the-Counter (OTC) Drugs Division is helping the company meet that goal by improving the health and efficiency of its sales support system, keeping it up to date with the latest technologies for real-time information delivery.

The OTC Division sells nonprescription drug and medical supplies to franchise drug stores and retail pharmacies in Japan. It's a high-volume, low-margin business that demands highly efficient operations and sales support.

Using Information Builders' technologies, Fujisawa developed the Computer-Aided Promotion (CAP) system to respond to the challenges. The system contains sales results, product, organization and customer data ­– approximately 30 million records ­– in an Oracle database. More than 200 people, including 100 sales representatives, use CAP.

One user often makes 200 requests a day, but it's no problem. The system can handle it. Most importantly, the system has cut costs and improved efficiency as it has grown and provided even better sales support.

The division's management information systems group made this possible by growing the system organically to make the best use of the latest developments in technology.

The OTC Drugs Division has been using Information Builders' technologies for more than 14 years from mainframe to client/server to Web. As the system has grown and demands from users have increased, the management information systems team has been quick to adapt. The decision to move to the Web grew out of the desire to control costs and improve the productivity of client/server applications as more people used the system more often and the volume of data usage grew.

To choose the software for building a Web-based reporting system, the team considered the following criteria: ability to improve developer productivity, ability to handle voluminous data searches, ability to manipulate the data in Excel and ability to provide multiple functions required by diverse users.

Using Information Builders' WebFOCUS real time information delivery technology, Fujisawa can improve developer productivity by drawing on existing expertise with Information Builders' technology and reusing some of the same procedures, comments and reports. We can also handle the volume of demand by scheduled processing and efficiently extracting data that had been impossible to obtain by SQL matching and secondary searches. Additionally, we can easily download search results into Excel and provide all levels of users with all the types of reporting they need: static reporting for the 60 percent of users who just need simple reports on current situations; parameter-driven reporting for the 30 percent who need to examine the data from more angles; and summary reporting, ad hoc query and OLAP for the 10 percent who want to do more analysis on their own.

Once the management information system team decided to use WebFOCUS to migrate the CAP system to the Web, it took just four months to implement.

The Fujisawa team began by developing two types of reports: dynamic reports that are automatically generated by WebFOCUS in HTML and can be run from the Web on demand by any user; and batch reports that are run on a schedule and convert the spread-sheets from the previous system into Excel, a function critical to users.

Eight months later, the group expanded the system. They made it possible for users to conduct queries from their cell phones. This mobilization of the CAP system makes it possible for Fujisawa's sales reps and managers to use their cell phones to check sales revenue and inventory daily.

Four months later, the team introduced a function for market analysis by geographic location with inventory movement data. Using the system, salespeople can look at a map and see which pharmacy has how much revenue.

In just another two months, the team began using the ReportCaster feature of WebFOCUS to give them even more flexibility for delivering reports to users. With ReportCaster, they can "push" reports to users via e-mail –­ both scheduled batch reports and reports triggered in response to alert conditions.

The reason the system has grown is simple: it works. Using SQL tools in the previous client/server system, it took two months to develop five to six programs. After introducing WebFOCUS, the Fujisawa team developed 70 programs in two months –­ 10 times as efficient. Now when a developer or staff member has an idea, it's easy to develop the procedures.

The management information system team also provided mobile access to the data, greatly improving sales support. In addition, by providing reports in Excel ­– the preferred format for most of their users –­ they gave users more power to analyze the data on their own and display it in a visually effective way.

At the same time, they improved the overall operating efficiency of the system, consolidating their servers and improving load distribution through scheduling efficiencies. The OTC Drugs Division keeps growing steadily; and its systems grow with it, setting a pace that helps the rest of Fujisawa.

Information Builders' WebFOCUS 5, the standard for enterprise business intelligence, extracts value from existing operational systems, filling the information gaps that characterize most business environments. Its advanced architecture turns everyone in the organization into a decision-maker. It easily and quickly deploys an array of applications with excellent performance regardless of volume.

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