REVIEWER: Nathan Anderson, data warehouse architect for Gordon Trucking Inc.

BACKGROUND: Founded in 1946, Gordon Trucking Inc. is a family-owned and operated long-haul trucking business. GTI’s fleet of 53-foot and 48-foot temperature-controlled Century and Columbia class 8 Freightliner trucks service customers across the continental U.S., Canada and Mexico. The company has long believed in leveraging new technology to create an efficient workplace staffed with effective people. We were challenged by business data stored on multiple servers and databases across the company. Our business analysts were finding it increasingly difficult to develop advanced reports because they lacked access to consistent data and insight on how the data was designed. Spreadsheets just couldn’t provide the level of data visibility required. Management needed to find an easy-to-use BI solution that could provide a central, reliable, accurate repository of information for more effective decision-making in sales, marketing and operations.

PLATFORMS: Hardware: IBM Blade servers with Intel processors. Software: Windows, IBM DB2 database software, IBM AS/400 (now known as Power Systems).

PROBLEM SOLVED: Following a competitive evaluation, we selected IBM Cognos 8 BI. Currently, the product has been rolled out to marketing, sales and operations and is integrated with our IBM DB2 database software. We are in the process of standardizing on IBM BI. The company-wide rollout is taking place in phases across each department. We have also been able to use the new intelligence gleaned from our data to streamline business operations, providing significant labor and cost savings. There’s definite recognition that it has helped people do their jobs better and more efficiently. This recognition helped take our deployment from this little success project to a big, company-wide initiative in no time.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Before IBM Cognos 8 BI, we had a number of reports that would take several hours to build on a computer using spreadsheets. With IBM Cognos 8 BI, it now takes 20 seconds. There is no programming involved. Consistent data is always present and can be pulled into any type of report or scorecard. We estimate that overall report times have dropped by more than 50 percent. Weekly reports are ready for clients by Monday at 8:00 a.m. instead of midweek or later. The time saved lets our business analysts study the results and investigate details the same day. The employees are now much more confident in the data.

STRENGTHS: Everybody loves IBM Cognos 8 BI because there is no programming and it’s simple to learn and use. With spreadsheets, we had to program a code using a specific driver that was not familiar to everyone in the company. This would often inhibit use because people did not know how to program the code.

WEAKNESSES: IBM Cognos 8 BI has earned the reputation at Gordon Trucking of being very simple to use and has gained the attraction from nearly all of our business analysts. When there are too many developers, however, we often see duplicate reports from different departments or reports developed at varying levels of skill. We had to establish a limited number of power users whose focus was developing reports.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Our biggest challenge was finding a solution that was easy to use for our non-technical business analysts, who would be accessing the system the majority of the time. The solution also needed to be Web-based, provide reliable data and scale easily to accommodate future growth.

DELIVERABLES: We have realized a 50 percent decrease in report processing time. Now management can identify processes for improving our customer service levels more thoroughly. Prior to using IBM Cognos 8 BI, we lacked a detailed and accurate analytical view of our company’s service to all our clients. Now, we have insight into which days and hours of the week affect our customer service greatest, and we can make effective adjustments. In terms of performance and results, we have also realized significant time and cost savings by being able to monitor and adjust the data in our transactional system. IBM Cognos 8 BI essentially provides an open window to the operating floor so management has visibility to all the activities and transactions. This insight allows them to make critical business adjustments and reduce unnecessary cost.

VENDOR SUPPORT: We worked with Washington-based systems integrator Perkins Consulting to aid in the deployment.

DOCUMENTATION: Documentations is comprehensive and tutorial oriented.

IBM Cognos 8 Business Intelligence


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