BACKGROUND: The SABRE Group is a world leader in the electronic distribution of travel and travel-related services. Sabre pioneered information technology solutions for the travel and transportation industry including customized software development and software products, transaction processing, consulting and total information technology outsourcing. VantagePoint is the company's decision support tool for corporate travel managers. This module of Sabre Business Travel Solutions enables companies to closely track travel and related expenditures, from preplanning and purchasing to expense reporting and reimbursement. More than 80 corporate travel managers throughout corporate America currently use the tools to analyze travel costs, monitor travel policy compliance and evaluate market share distribution among travel suppliers.
PLATFORMS: Minimum requirements: Pentium Desktop PC, client/server configuration.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Sabre's clients are Fortune 2000 companies who spend more than $5 million a year on business travel. Sabre's IT infrastructure facilitates the data collection process. However, the key challenge was to create a user interface that would allow their customers to productively deal with complex and large volumes of data, with a focus on optimizing overall travel costs. VantagePoint lets customers perform analyses proactively or on a historical basis. Previously, the user had to cope with traditional rows and columns of numbers. A 3-D visualization offers a complementary view of the data, allowing the user to rapidly understand the big picture. For example, the travel manager can quickly spot graphical elements that represent cost-saving opportunities across the organization, whether by department, fare type, origin or other factors. By simply pointing to the item, underlying details are instantly available. The manager is armed with the facts to track expenses, negotiate better rates and optimize corporate travel policies.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Visible Decisions In3D is a development suite for creating 3-D business visualization solutions. Data from any source is quickly mapped into an intuitive 3-D visual representation to form an Information Landscape a picture of data. In3D is designed to fit seamlessly into any application, giving the user complete control over the landscape's appearance and behavior. Companies can quickly create robust enterprise applications that can be deployed on the desktop, on a server or via the Web.
STRENGTHS: Adding 3-D graphical presentations, helps the travel manager understand and focus on important content. A single 3-D view eliminates the need to navigate thousands of rows and columns or 2-D static bar charts. It provides the user with the "big picture" a useful technique for exploring and analyzing data. With 3-D visualizations, travel managers are now just a click away from identifying financial savings and policy exceptions for their organization.
WEAKNESSES: The initial visual model mapped travel data discretely. Sabre's larger clients often analyze more than 100,000 data points simultaneously, requiring a computer equipped with substantial memory. Visible Decisions addressed this issue by revising the memory model and retrofitting the application accordingly.
SELECTION CRITERIA: Our research indicated that Visible Decisions is one of the leaders in business visualization. Their experience and record of achievement in designing 3-D visual applications for Fortune 1000 companies were important considerations. We chose Visible Decisions In3D C++ Edition for performance, proven design and ease of integration with our application.
DELIVERABLES: Visible Decisions provided the Sabre Group with a 3-D landscape that is being integrated into the VantagePoint product. The landscape acts as a graphic allowing the user to view and interact with the data by simply launching a visualization from the workstation.
VENDOR SUPPORT: The Sabre Group retained Visible Decisions' consulting group to design and build the application prototype. Visible Decisions In3D Studio, a rapid application prototyping tool was used to prototype, fine-tune the visualization and generate source code. This was the foundation for the application, which is being completed using the In3D 2.0 Developers Toolkit, C++ Edition. Throughout the development of the application, Visible Decisions involved us in every step to ensure our requirements were met.
DOCUMENTATION: Visible Decisions provided Sabre with some documentation source that is being incorporated into the VantagePoint product.
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