REVIEWER: Lisa Minich, manager of Information Services at KOA Speer Electronics, Inc.

BACKGROUND: KOA Speer Electronics, Inc. is a broad-line electronics components supplier. KOA Speer's world-class manufacturing facilities are poised to ramp up with new designs, allowing us to take them to market with the shortest of lead times. Our sophisticated warehousing and distribution system ensures the availability of components when you need them.

HARDWARE PLATFORMS: Intel-based servers running Microsoft Windows Server 2003 and Microsoft Analysis Services 2005; Intel-based PCs running Microsoft Windows XP Professional.

PROBLEM SOLVED: KOA Speer's DB2-based sales/warehouse system contains all the necessary data for our analysis requirements in a large and complex database. However, it was very difficult for end users to extract data, being unfamiliar with database structures and SQL. Consequently, the sales and marketing department regularly submitted requests to IT to prepare reports in specific layouts. IT then created SQL scripts and temporary tables/views/reports and handed them over to sales and marketing. Each time a new requirement was needed (data layout, filters, updates, etc.), it was necessary for IT to modify existing reports or create completely new ones. This process was time-consuming and inflexible, and was not satisfying the sales and marketing department or IT.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The Cubeware Analysis System offers an extract, transform and load (ETL) tool (Importer 6.0) specialized for extracting data from a variety of sources to map and load into online analytical processing (OLAP) cubes. The data cubes are presented to end users through the Cockpit 5.0 front-end tool, which provides an attractive, flexible and intuitive environment for self-service reporting and analysis for both Windows and Web-based clients. The sales and marketing area no longer depends on IT for creating and modifying reports and making them available department-wide. No knowledge of database query languages is necessary, as the Cockpit is intuitive and easy to use. IT has more time for their "real" business again.

STRENGTHS: Standard reports are stored within a server-based reporting environment - available everywhere, all the time, with regular updates so the latest data is always accessible. Users are able to create their own new reports for ad hoc needs. Minimal training and no knowledge of query languages is required.

WEAKNESSES: Options for report formatting (e.g., banding, colors) is somewhat limited, and there is no dashboard-type capability in the current version.

SELECTION CRITERIA: KOA Europe is already using Cubeware Technology, and KOA Speer wanted to create a similar analysis system.

DELIVERABLES: The Importer is configured to extract DB2 data from the sales/warehouse database and populate OLAP cubes that offer very flexible ways to analyze sales data. Standard reports have been deployed via the Cubeware Team server, and users have been trained in using the Cockpit to view the reports and create new ones as required. Criteria (dimensions) for the sales analysis cubes include timeline (with several views, such as required date, promised date, shipment date, etc.), region, product and customer/contract. Each of them is displayable in a variety of aggregations and views (single day, month, year to date, cumulative). Users can focus on single product codes, aggregations such as product lines and filters such as "top 28 products" and "growth products." Contracts can be analyzed singly, in total, by customer and by customer groupings. Criteria can be assembled in combinations to view and analyze the data in any way required.

VENDOR SUPPORT: We had a one-week prototyping and implementation engagement involving consultants from both Cubeware and Telemetree Systems, which accomplished a great deal in a short time. We have had little need to call on the vendor for support since.

DOCUMENTATION: Documentation is provided in the form of online help and comprehensive tutorials. The Cockpit is very intuitive to use, so minimal study of the documentation is required to use the product.

Cubeware Analysis System
Telemetree Systems
409 Broad Street, Suite 140
Sewickley, PA 15143
(412) 741-1944

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