BACKGROUND: Every day millions of people enjoy Pillsbury's brands. The company's portfolio of leading brands includes Pillsbury, Green Giant, Old El Paso, Häagen-Dazs, Progresso, Hungry Jack and Totino's. The company is also a major supplier of baking and other food products to the food service and commercial baking industries. Pillsbury is the packaged food division of Diageo, one of the world's leading consumer brand companies. Diageo employs 80,000 people in 200 markets worldwide and had 1999 sales of nearly $19 billion. To remain successful, our company is deploying centralized information management technology.
PLATFORMS: Server: NT Server 4.0 with Microsoft IIS 4.0. Workstation: Internet Explorer 4.0.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Pillsbury has an ongoing need to deploy enterprise-wide data analysis tools to meet the company's growing appetite for information. I was interested in leveraging the expertise in our technology organization to provide our employees with access to real-time statistical analysis of critical data. Specifically, we wanted to be able to develop and deliver customized data collection, analysis and educational tools to employees' desktops via the intranet. These tools would allow Pillsbury employees to analyze their critical business data in a familiar Web-based environment. Toward this end, we have used MathSoft's StatServer and S-PLUS, a leading data analysis package, to deploy analytical tools to hundreds of employees in applications ranging from process analysis to product development to consumer research.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The MathSoft StatServer product provides a Web-based solution for deploying analysis tools to key decision-makers within our company. For some applications, we have dramatically reduced analysis-processing time from days to minutes by putting engineers directly in touch with their data. By sharing standardized analytical models, we can upgrade everyone's data analysis toolbox and ensure that best practices are being implemented throughout our company. This product is easy to install and integrates with our existing IT systems. Using a Web-based environment for front-end reporting makes it easier for our employees to use the tools we provide and share the results with other software packages including Microsoft Office and Lotus Notes. The StatServer enables statisticians and nonstatisticians to use our sophisticated data analysis tools when making competitive business decisions.
STRENGTHS: I believe the strengths of the product are its ability to deploy sophisticated statistics across our company from a centralized source, using our existing infrastructure of intranet servers, desktop PCs and standard business software (Web browser, spreadsheet). A key strength for us is that it is driven by S-PLUS, a leading statistical package that provides our company with the modern data analysis and visualization capabilities necessary for developing our analysis tools.
WEAKNESSES: MathSoft's StatServer must rely on a company's internal server and database security systems; some modifications may be necessary to accommodate the StatServer. SELECTION CRITERIA: I selected MathSoft's StatServer because I was looking for a way to deploy the power of S-PLUS across the entire company. S-PLUS was our preferred statistical package and StatServer gave us the global reach and multiuser capabilities to meet our business needs.
DELIVERABLES: The product provides us with the software to link a Web-based user interface to sophisticated analysis tools developed in S-PLUS. Maintaining a single, centralized version of S-PLUS code allows us to efficiently develop, maintain and deliver high-quality data analysis tools in a standardized format. The Web-based interface provides complete flexibility in customizing the front end to small user groups within the company. Furthermore, on the client side we are able to rely solely on the standard Web-browser and spreadsheet software. Thus, we can leverage employee familiarity with the Web browser and spreadsheet to reduce training costs. It also means no new client software is required to run our system. With the new capabilities of the recently released StatServer 2000, we are planning to roll out our StatServer application to a wider audience.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Pre- and post-installation support of the StatServer technology has been very good. I received timely, informative answers to my questions that ensured a smooth installation of the product. Members of MathSoft's development team were available to answer more technical questions when needed.
DOCUMENTATION: Documentation is satisfactory.
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