BACKGROUND: Giorgio Armani Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Giorgio Armani SpA, is charged with managing the U.S. operations of one of the world's most prestigious fashion empires. Giorgio Armani Corporation operates Giorgio Armani, Emporio Armani and Armani Outlet stores in the United States. These high-fashion boutiques are located in most of the United States' largest cities.

PLATFORMS: Giorgio Armani Corporation runs Matryx98 and Microsoft SQL Server 6.5 on a Windows NT 4.0 server. Local users access Matryx98 from Windows 95 clients while remote users access Matryx98 via Citrix WinFrame.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Giorgio Armani was frustrated with the reporting capabilities of its existing back-office software solution. This back-office application is a rolling system that drops detailed transaction data at the close of each period. The only means for Giorgio Armani to maintain sales and commission detail was to produce more than 500 static reports per week. Executives, buyers and store managers were in need of ad hoc query capabilities and historical trend analysis.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Giorgio Armani enlisted Stone, Timber, River to design and implement a data warehouse and to use Matryx98 as the front end. Transaction data is now exported from our back-office system to the Giorgio Armani data warehouse on a weekly basis. Users with less than 30 minutes of training can now access the warehouse from Matryx98's Microsoft Excel interface. Executives, buyers, store managers and IT employees can now slice, dice, drill, graph or filter sales and commissions by division, category, store, season, style and employee. The data warehouse has also enabled us to build a critical repository of historical transaction data that allows users to perform detailed trend analysis by week, month, season and year.

STRENGTHS: Matryx98 is easy to use, flexible, quick to implement and competitively priced. Stone, Timber, River built a high-performance query engine and adopted Microsoft Excel as the front end. Giorgio Armani users already proficient in Microsoft Excel now use Matryx98 to query the data warehouse, distribute reports and perform advanced analysis tasks such as dynamic SQL generation, drill down, drill up, charting, pivoting, filtering and mapping. The Matryx98 Administrator contains intuitive parameter-driven menus for flexible and quick changes. This Administrator played an important role in the speedy implementation of Matryx98 on the data warehouse. Stone, Timber, River successfully implemented the data warehouse and Matryx98 in less than 30 days.

WEAKNESSES: Matryx98 should provide more descriptive error messages to users submitting invalid query selections. Microsoft Excel pivot tables and auto filters occasionally make it difficult for Giorgio Armani to duplicate existing static reports.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Stone, Timber, River demonstrated an advanced understanding of database design and our specific needs. Matryx98 satisfied our needs for scalability and incorporated on-site implementation services in the license fee. Giorgio Armani is planning to implement a new client/server-based retail application in 1999. Matryx98 will provide the reporting bridge during implementation of the new retail application and will be incorporated as part of Giorgio Armani's IS strategic plan. Stone, Timber, River's fixed-fee pricing for Matryx98 enabled Giorgio Armani to effectively budget for a complete data warehouse and reporting solution.

DELIVERABLES: Matryx98 is used by executives, buyers and store managers to monitor business trends and operating performance company-wide. Variables monitored by Matryx98 include sales, orders, receipts, markdowns, consignments and in-transit stock at a unit, retail and cost level. These variables are analyzed over numerous dimensions including division, store, department, class, style and season. Matryx98 enables our users to assess fast- and slow-selling product lines and adjust future buying habits appropriately. Matryx98 helps our retail stores avoid out-of-stock situations and perform inventory balancing across the chain.

VENDOR SUPPORT: The support from Stone, Timber, River has been excellent. Strong on-site implementation assistance was included in the product license fee; and Stone, Timber, River maintains remote access privileges for periodic maintenance and support. Timely support is also available via an 800 telephone number. Administrator and user training was provided upon implementation.

DOCUMENTATION: Stone, Timber, River's written and on-line documentation is thorough and helpful. However, these resources are rarely used due to the intuitive nature of the product.

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