CATEGORY: Data Mining & Visualization

REVIEWER: Doug Morley, manager of sales administration at Toronto-based Novopharm Limited.

BACKGROUND: Novopharm Limited, a division of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. of Jerusalem, Israel, manufactures a broad range of quality generic pharmaceutical products to help make healthcare more affordable for Canadians. Since its founding in 1965 by pharmacist Leslie Dan, Novopharm has established a reputation for quality, integrity, ethics and service. Acquired in April 2000 by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., Novopharm Limited is now part of its worldwide operations, employing approximately 900 staff.

PLATFORMS: Server: Compaq ML570 running Windows 2000 Advanced Server. Client: Toshiba laptops running Windows 2000.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Before implementing Microsoft business intelligence solution, our senior executives, sales managers and sales representatives were spending an inordinate amount of time querying a multitude of back-end systems to gain a deeper understanding of customers and products. Our sales representatives lacked the time needed to ascertain why certain drugs were selling poorly or how sales in certain pharmacies were adding to the bottom line. We relied heavily on the IS specialists ­ a very small percentage of our staff ­ to run reports that reflected the latest statistics and data, making time to knowledge very slow. Today, Microsoft Data Analyzer acts as a browser of sorts so our salespeople can manipulate and interpret the data and manage their accounts on the fly. We are now approaching customers in a much more educated fashion. Discussions with busy pharmacists are much more directed, with sales representatives continually monitoring customers, products and territories. We have developed a completely new selling strategy. If sales in a certain territory are down 10 percent, we can figure out the problem in minutes and take immediate action. Our sales automation department is now providing strategic analysis to senior management rather than simply generating reports. Time to knowledge has vastly improved. By leveraging the right tools, we have been able to grow our business and gain market share.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Data Analyzer template measures allow us to define standard measures for our sales reps. The Business Center enables our users to perform sophisticated analysis while reducing the complexity for our end users. The function to export to Excel and PowerPoint provides tight integration with the rest of the Microsoft Office suite. Analysis Services Offline Cube provides us with the ability to distribute cubes for our mobile users.

STRENGTHS: Data Analyzer has a variety of strengths. Its accessibility allows employees at various levels of the company to scan real- time data about customers and products and drill down on different areas. The tools require very little training, and users can quickly view multidimensional data. Analysis Services platform provides a very sophisticated and powerful platform for analytics. Integration with Excel, PowerPoint and the Web enables the easy creation of powerful presentations for sharing and collaborating. The Business Center provides guided analysis to common questions.

WEAKNESSES: The product does not have a thin- client deployment option. We would like to see more graphic types and more report formatting capabilities.

SELECTION CRITERIA: GHI Technologies, a Toronto-based business intelligence and customer relationship management solutions provider, designed and implemented the solution using the Microsoft platform because it easily integrated with our existing computing infrastructure for greater cost-effectiveness and flexibility. They found the Microsoft platform to be superior to the other analytical tools that they evaluated. It was also very attractive that we were able to execute the solution with just two people in only two months.

DELIVERABLES: Outputs provided include the graphical bar and grid view presentation of dimensional data across multiple measures. Data can easily be exported to Excel for additional formatting and/or analysis.

VENDOR SUPPORT: GHI Technologies has done an excellent job supporting the product during all phases of the implementation. They became knowledgeable about our business process and culture which enabled them to understand our priorities and suggest possible enhancements to the product.

DOCUMENTATION: Documentation of the software was not as extensive as I would have hoped, perhaps due to the fact that we were an early adopter of the technology.

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