REVIEWER: James A. Lance, senior vice president and CIO for Bon-Ton Stores.

BACKGROUND: Bon-Ton operates 269 department stores and eight furniture store galleries in 23 states in the Northeast, Midwest and Upper Great Plains under the Bon-Ton, Bergner's, Boston Store, Carson Pirie Scott, Elder-Beerman, Herberger's and Younkers nameplates and under the Parisian nameplate in two stores in the Detroit, Michigan area.

HARDWARE PLATFORMS: HP Integrity servers powered by up to 256 Intel Itanium 2 processors, HP ProLiant servers, HP StorageWorks products, running the HP NonStop operating system and NonStop SQL database tuned specifically for decision support.

PROBLEM SOLVED: At Bon-Ton Stores, we've had a terrific three years in which we doubled in size twice. We first expanded from 72 to 141 locations with the acquisition of Elder-Beerman Stores in 2003, then acquired the Northern Department Store Group from Saks Incorporated and suddenly had 279 stores to manage by March 2006. This type of growth put a strain on every aspect of understanding our business: more customers, more geographic markets, more diversity in terms of the markets that Bon-Ton serves - all of this has been challenging. And IT has been challenged to provide business intelligence tools that can bring the data into focus and make it "actionable" for better decision-making.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: We use the platform for two distinct applications - first, for vendor analysis. Neoview provides us with the capability to tackle data tables with more than one billion rows to extract and analyze sales, inventory, gross margin and profitability. Second, we run an iQuery for merchandise management, which provides us with a virtual grouping capability for merchant assortment analysis - SKU, style and virtual style, all by location and virtual location. The Neoview platform serves as a high-speed query engine that allows us to transform and summarize large amounts of data, and leverage that data - making the merchandising and marketing staff even more productive.

STRENGTHS: We purchased the very first system HP produced for sale, which some people would consider a significant risk. As we expected from HP, we've only experienced the good part of a new technology platform. It's fast. It uses industry-standard components, so it is more open than any other HP product we've had on our floor and extremely cost-effective. It has integrated seamlessly into our data warehouse environment and is compatible with our existing applications. And it provides a highly concurrent, reliable, scalable infrastructure that allows us to build to the needs of the business, today and in the future.

WEAKNESSES: Operations management tools were a weakness early on during the implementation period. Significant progress has been made, and the issue is not expected to be a continuing problem.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We selected the Neoview platform because of our confidence in HP - in their ability to deliver advanced technology and to provide the people resources that we need to turn our technology investments into value-producing solutions.

DELIVERABLES: Deliverables include vendor analysis by location over varying periods of time. iQuery provides a flexible merchandise assortment analysis tool that permits the grouping of items at the discretion of the merchant to provide performance metrics for locations or groups of locations.

VENDOR SUPPORT: HP business intelligence and product development teams closely monitored our progress and made adjustments as needed to optimize our product delivery. HP took a very customer-focused position. They exceeded my expectations in terms of commitment and taking a results-oriented approach to ensure that products delivered via Neoview were products that we would both be proud to present to our end users.

DOCUMENTATION: We have seen steady progress in documentation and training materials throughout the development and implementation periods. I do not expect this to be an issue for new customers.

HP Neoview
3000 Hanover Street
Palo Alto, CA 94304
(650) 857-1501

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