REVIEWER: Len Nicolas, CIO for Nygård International.

BACKGROUND: Nygård International is a multimillion-dollar fashion company that designs and markets affordable women’s fashion apparel and accessories. It is headquartered in Winnipeg, Canada, and sells directly to customers through a broad range of retailers including Dillard’s, Sears Canada and HBC. It also maintains its own retail operation and e-commerce site and has more than 2,600 employees internationally with sales offices located in New York, Toronto and Montreal.

PLATFORMS: Our entire business intelligence (BI) implementation from data warehouse to the MicroStrategy reporting platform runs in a Windows environment. Our data warehouse and metadata platforms are SQL 2005.

PROBLEM SOLVED: With a distributed mobile workforce, Nygård had a constant challenge to provide associates in the field with the real-time insight and information they need to make the right operational decisions wherever they are. Nygård found that its associates were far too “attached” to their computers. Previously, they had to wait for reports to become available, then select and print them before heading out into the field. We wanted to eliminate this barrier. MicroStrategy Mobile allowed us to bridge the gap to reach our mobile workforce through their BlackBerry smartphones more efficiently and in real time, and live up to our corporate slogan, “Where fashion meets technology.”

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Ease of use and one-click access to real-time information headed the list of what our mobile users wanted. MicroStrategy Mobile delivered on these requirements. It replicated and delivered the same reports to the BlackBerry that users received via email or through the MicroStrategy Web interface, as well as the same look and feel. This includes consistent headings and standards for key performance indicator (KPI) abbreviations, the same colors that define what users see, and the same special fonts to highlight totals and subtotals. Today, our 140 BlackBerry users have a wide range of interactivity just as they would at their desk, and they are asking for more reports.

STRENGTHS: The migration from an email-based system to MicroStrategy Mobile was fast and seamless because we did not need to change any reports. The ROI was immediate in terms of gaining productive time because the reports were always available.

WEAKNESSES: Some minor issues include numeric data not being presented in a right-justified format, or the inability to create a two-row header with word-wrap when maximizing space usage on a mobile device is paramount.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We looked at a competing product in July 2007; it is a great product, but we decided to put our faith in MicroStrategy to develop a product that we could work with and perhaps improve as we were part of the beta program. Price point per user was also a key factor for us. Using the other product would have required us to set up an additional application server on which to run the platform. This would not only have resulted in higher resource and maintenance costs, but it would have also created a more complex environment to manage. It made more sense for us to limit the number of vendors in the solution and not introduce another partner to format the reports of a primary partner! In this manner, MicroStrategy Mobile simply became an extension of our already existing BI platform.

DELIVERABLES: The reports are primarily product, store and sales associate performance, comparing sales to budget and last year for specific periods. The report a regional manager receives is specific to the region, listing only the stores in that region and the sales associates specific to each store. Directors and VPs get more national information by brand and region. We have created graphs, and MicroStrategy Mobile handles them well, but our focus is numbers, always showing comparisons to budget and previous time periods.

VENDOR SUPPORT: MicroStrategy was helpful in guiding us through our development process, and our business users, in turn, provided valuable feedback that drove enhancement changes to help MicroStrategy improve their product.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is intuitive and comprehensive, as is documentation for all MicroStrategy products. We used it successfully for reference several times during our implementation.

MicroStrategy Mobile
MicroStrategy, Inc.
1861 International Drive
McLean, VA 22102
(703) 848-8600
http://www.microstrategy.com/

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