REVIEWER: Darryl Kelley, director of data warehousing for Henry Schein.

BACKGROUND: Henry Schein, Inc. is the largest distributor of healthcare products and services to office-based healthcare practitioners in the combined North American and European markets. Recognized for its excellent customer service and low prices, the company serves more than 400,000 customers worldwide, including dental practices and laboratories, physician practices and veterinary clinics, as well as government and other institutions.

PLATFORMS: Informatica PowerCenter is currently running on an x86 Intel-based Server, with 4GB of RAM and 34GB of disk space running on NT (2000).

PROBLEM SOLVED: On the heels of several acquisitions, Henry Schein needed a way to integrate product and customer sales data across 90,000 national and Henry Schein private-branded products and 400,000 customers to get a holistic view of its business. To accomplish this objective, the company needed to integrate data across different business units, acquired companies and disparate technology platforms. Previously, when requests were made for sales and product information, the company's IT staff developed custom programs by reporting directly against J.D. Edwards and legacy systems because there was no central repository containing all customer and sales information. This approach proved very cumbersome to maintain because the report generation process was resource intensive, taking days in some cases. More importantly, however, reports were limited only to the questions asked and provided no flexibility for business users to perform ad hoc analysis.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Informatica's data integration platform is used to integrate data from Henry Schein's legacy AS/400 systems and J.D. Edwards into its UDB data warehouse for detailed customer, product and sales analysis. The company is also integrating third-party market data, which enables the company's sales and marketing managers to track industry and product purchasing trends and gives sales agents the ability to position products more effectively. Through its data warehouse, Henry Schein now has a single integrated customer view and is tracking product and sales trends across all its U.S. divisions down to the customer and sales manager level. The company is also tracking net sales profitability by product and customer so that it can align its resources to maximize operational efficiency and customer satisfaction. Informatica PowerCenter has delivered a dramatic return on investment by providing improved visibility into customers, sales and profitability. This, in turn, optimizes sales, pricing and promotional activities.

STRENGTHS: Informatica PowerCenter's key strengths include its scalability and adaptive performance. In addition, its ability to visually define mappings and transformations has improved development productivity at Henry Schein. Informatica PowerCenter also has an adaptive meta data-centric architecture, strong error handling features, flexibility in dealing with source system changes and ease of maintenance.

WEAKNESSES: Overall, Informatica's PowerCenter product addressed the majority of our needs; however, the one downside to the product was that we needed to develop some "homegrown" code (which resides on an AS/400 in J.D. Edwards) to collect the operational data to the warehouse prior to executing the ETL process.

SELECTION CRITERIA: PowerCenter was compared to several competing products and was ultimately selected based on its ease of use, solid and integrated architecture, and robust error handling and reporting capabilities. Informatica defines and documents the operational source data store, storing source definitions, target definitions and mappings generated during the construction of the operational store. Informatica also creates and maintains the meta data repository automatically as various tools are applied to the tasks of schema design and source data extractions and transformation.

DELIVERABLES: Informatica PowerCenter integrated all customer and sales information into one centralized data warehouse. As a result, managers across the company can access a single repository for customer, product and sales information, perform ad hoc analysis and generate analytic reports without dedicated IT resources.

VENDOR SUPPORT: The Informatica sales and consulting team worked closely with Henry Schein to customize the integration to meet specific needs. The Informatica product development team was able to make changes and improvements based on the expanding needs of the project. In general, Henry Schein was pleased with Informatica's commitment and responsiveness.

DOCUMENTATION: Informatica's documentation was more complete and easy to understand than most. We used the documentation to get the implementation off the ground and had no problems.

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