REVIEWER: Kenny Choy, director of business intelligence for Edmunds.com.
BACKGROUND: Edmunds.com Inc. publishes four websites that empower, engage and educate automotive consumers, enthusiasts and insiders. Edmunds.com, the premier online resource for automotive consumer information, launched in 1995 as the first automotive information website. InsideLine.com is the most-read automotive enthusiast website. CarSpace is an automotive social networking website. AutoObserver.com provides insightful automotive industry commentary and analysis. Edmunds.com Inc. is headquartered in Santa Monica, California, and maintains a satellite office in suburban Detroit.
PLATFORMS: Our entire BI implementation from databases to the MicroStrategy platform runs in a Linux environment. Our databases are Netezza and Oracle 10g R2.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Previously, we were limited to using only Omniture to perform clickstream analysis. Today, MicroStrategy provides an ad hoc query and reporting platform for Edmunds.com and supports a self-service subscription portal for email distribution. MicroStrategy is used across all areas of the business, including advertising analysis and revenue analysis, and complements our smaller Omniture Web analytics solution.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Edmunds.com leverages MicroStrategy’s ad hoc query and analysis capabilities across the enterprise. In particular, MicroStrategy OLAP Services is key to our success; with it, Edmunds.com is able to develop intelligent cubes so that our end users can run reports in a high performance environment while maintaining the analytical flexibility to create and modify their own reports. Our power users leverage MicroStrategy’s analytical power to perform customer segmentation analysis by creating Flash-enabled dashboards and distributing a variety of personalized PDFs that detail vehicle manufacturer make and model information to analysts and executive management. Our clients and partners rely on this customer segmentation insight to execute their sales strategies and effectively optimize their advertising spend on our website.
STRENGTHS: MicroStrategy’s unified architecture is one of the product’s numerous strengths. Because of it, we can create reports, scorecards and dashboards using a shared common interface resulting in a user experience that is coherent and transparent across our Web and Microsoft Office applications. We like that we were able to migrate to MicroStrategy 9 in a Linux environment. We maintain some historical reports with Omniture but will soon update all of them to a Linux environment. We like 64-bit support because it allows us to use more memory, and create and support large intelligent cubes that contain millions of records and facilitate ad hoc query and analysis.
WEAKNESSES: We have noticed that there are a few issues with several of the dashboards. Secondly, not all the charts, such as the 3-D charts, are supported in Flash mode. This could be a Flash limitation on how much data the Flash file can hold or could actually be an Adobe product limitation.
SELECTION CRITERIA: Edmunds.com evaluated a number of BI solutions and considered vendor support, price, functionality and ease of use, among various criteria. Ultimately, we selected MicroStrategy because it scored the highest marks on average across all our specific requirements.
DELIVERABLES: With MicroStrategy, we generate comprehensive dashboards and scorecards, monthly and weekly email with KPIs and highly automated personalized dashboards. MicroStrategy Office enables seamless integration between our legacy data and our Microsoft applications. We are able to report on clickstream and financial data that was previously not possible when we were solely using Omniture. Today, end users can analyze financial data, compare forecast figures versus actual figures, track advertising and lead generation data, perform impression analysis and execute a number of other calculations.
VENDOR SUPPORT: MicroStrategy has provided very good support. When I visit their Knowledge Base, I typically find the answers to my questions online. If I need to call technical support, a knowledgeable technical support engineer is ready to answer my questions. The engineers I have spoken to are very helpful. If they don’t know the answer immediately, they will research the issue and get back to me within 24 to 48 hours.
DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is complete, very easy to use and easy to understand. While the SDK documentation is very comprehensive, it would be helpful to see more sample code of the SDK documents available for a developer. The documentation in the Knowledge Base is also intuitive and instructions are clear.
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