REVIEWER: George Mehok, chief information officer at Revol Wireless.

BACKGROUND: Revol Wireless is a privately held, regional provider of CDMA wireless communications services, with headquarters in Independence, Ohio. The company offers a simple mobile phone service featuring unlimited wireless usage for one flat monthly rate, without requiring long-term contracts or deposits, and serves more than 7 million people in areas of Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania. Founded in 2005, the company currently has more than 400 employees.

PLATFORMS: We use open source technologies including Apache, Linux, PHP and others. The data warehouse is implemented on the Oracle database platform.

PROBLEM SOLVED: By tracking business performance at various levels, including company, region, store and employee, we have been able to implement and reinforce the accountability and performance cultures we wanted to instill. Dashboarding and operational reporting help get this information in front of executives and managers. We are using the analytics functionality to reduce churn – a key goal. We also use analytics to uncover new revenue opportunities by identifying customer groups likely to be interested in new products or services.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: We use the JasperETL data integration tool to feed data from many of our operational applications into the data warehouse (we use other tools for a few Oracle-based data sources). We use Jaspersoft tools for all the reporting, queries, dashboards, analytics and to design reports. These KPI dashboards and reports gave us the accountability focus we were looking for. Other reports and dashboards enable performance improvement in our sales and marketing and CRM activities. Tracking performance and using analytics to understand the causes has led us to achieve a 25 to 35 percent improvement in key areas, leading to increased sales and customer satisfaction. We use the analytics functionality to more quickly and accurately inform our targeted marketing campaigns and to track their results. This has led to steadily improving results for the campaigns we do launch.

STRENGTHS: The subscription pricing model played right into our wide deployment goals. Customization is easy with Jaspersoft – all the code and APIs are well-designed and right there for us to see. Output choices were important, too. As a wireless company, we have all sorts of people who need information on their mobile devices. We like how they support our self-service goal. JasperServer Professional, for example, lets users build their own dashboards. And because the Jaspersoft technology was built on modern open standards, we would be free to experiment with Web 2.0-type user interfaces, which our users most certainly wanted. Also, open source offers the advantages of community support, access to source code, the huge cost advantage and ease of integration.

WEAKNESSES: The provided report scheduling system is an area we would like to see improved. The scheduler provides a simple, intuitive interface, but we find it is lacking some key functionality. The scheduler is too autonomous from the rest of our system. There is no inherent ability built into the scheduler to recognize the state of the data warehouse. If an issue occurs with the nightly data ETLs, we need to manually shut the scheduler down to stop any report deliveries. Ideally, the scheduler should have the ability to check to see if reports can be delivered based off the current state of the data warehouse. The other area of improvement we would like to see is how reports are delivered. Overall the report delivery system allows the distribution of information; however, a simplification of the delivery process would be an added benefit. Currently we attach the report to an email, but we would like to have the ability to include report data directly within the body of an email instead.

SELECTION CRITERIA: The low cost and per-server subscription pricing model would let the company affordably pursue its goal of wide usage. That same goal is also supported by the solution’s ease of use. Because both Jaspersoft and Talend technologies are built on modern open standards, Revol would be free to meet staff preference for Web 2.0-type user interfaces. The IT team would be able to quickly and easily do any needed customization, thanks to easily accessible APIs and source code. Output choices were important, too. Many Revol users would be more likely to adopt the new BI capabilities if reports could be formatted for mobile devices – a built-in Jaspersoft feature. While open source software simplifies the support question considerably, we were still impressed with the consistent high marks given Talend and Jaspersoft support in independent industry surveys. We also liked the advantages of open source technology: community support, assured, perpetual access to source code, the markedly lower costs and ease of integration.

DELIVERABLES: Reports and dashboards track the performance of just about everything, at various organizational levels: employee, store, region and company. Most of these include a KPI or other metric and compare performance to targets. Other reports and dashboards enable performance improvement in our sales and marketing and CRM activities. Analysis cubes include data on customer preferences and on marketing campaign effectiveness.

VENDOR SUPPORT: We found Jaspersoft to be helpful and knowledgeable of their product.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is of good quality and reasonably complete. We could certainly run JasperServer using just the documentation.

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