REVIEWER: Stephen Cochran, Director of Information Services, King Arthur Flour.

BACKGROUND: King Arthur Flour is America's oldest flour company and has grown from a regional staple to a brand known nationwide not only for its high quality flours but also for its passion in sharing the joy of baking. The mission of King Arthur Flour is to be the highest quality product and information resource for and inspiration to bakers worldwide.

PLATFORMS: Oco is a Web-based SaaS solution. We are accessing Oco Analytics from Mac and Windows computers using Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer.

PROBLEM SOLVED: At a tactical level, we wanted to improve our access to information. We have several source transactional systems, but these were not designed for easy analysis or reporting, and the data was not integrated into one data warehouse. At a strategic level, we wanted to improve the analytic capabilities of our entire workforce. In our old model, business analysts responded to information requests by generating reports. We wanted to create a self-service environment where people could create their own analytics and gain better understanding of the business with meaningful insights.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: King Arthur is using Oco Analytics to manage inventory metrics and monitor revenue and profitability performance in a solution integrated with SAP BusinessObjects BI OnDemand for reporting. We weren’t looking for drastic improvements in our performance against metrics – these were already very good. Our goal was to make it easier to maintain that excellent performance. For example, our inventory turn rate was already seven to eight, which is very good. And our initial order fill rate was 97 percent, which is great. But the effort required to maintain this performance was very high. We have more than 1,500 ingredients to track, which could occupy two to three people reviewing the list to find problem areas. With Oco Analytics, it’s much easier for King Arthur to maintain the same excellent inventory fill rates. Oco identifies the items that need attention for us -- we don’t have to search for them. One of the biggest benefits of Oco is that it is Web-based, with no installation required. The analytics were available to everyone once we turned on the system. Another benefit is the flexibility of Oco reports – the key to meeting demands from a wide range of users. They are also unique in their multidimensional drill-down capabilities, which allow our users to find specific information without losing track of its context.

STRENGTHS: With Oco Analytics, it all starts with accessibility and ease-of-use. I’ve never worried about the technical skills of our users in regard to Oco. If they can use a browser and have seen a data report before, they have no problems using Oco. In addition, our implementation time was phenomenal – and one of our biggest reasons for choosing Oco. Our time to value was just three to four months.

WEAKNESSES: Integration between Oco and the BusinessObjects OnDemand toolset could be improved. The Oco visualization graphs could be better, and the BusinessObjects OnDemand tools are not as flexible as we would like.

SELECTION CRITERIA: In addition to its Web-based delivery model, easy implementation and quick time-to-value, Oco’s experience with data integration was a major deciding factor for King Arthur. Our internal team has a wealth of experience with transactional systems, but not as much with data integration and data warehousing. We wanted a partner who was strong in these areas. Also, because we knew we were going to focus on inventory and revenue/profitability, we were looking for a vendor that offered a modular approach so we could focus on these areas rather than a “kitchen sink” BI approach that would force us to work with a product functionality we didn’t need and wouldn’t use.

DELIVERABLES: The main output we get from Oco Analytics is multidimensional drill-down reports.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Oco’s pre and post-implementation support has been excellent. The best part has been the domain expertise Oco people bring to the table. They’re very knowledgeable about analytics and reporting and overall business intelligence. I expect a vendor to have expertise when it comes to their own product – and to fix problems quickly – but being able to provide real domain expertise, to help me understand the implications of the business decisions I wrestle with every day, that’s real value.

DOCUMENTATION: The BusinessObjects OnDemand documentation provided by Oco met our expectations. Oco did a good job providing the basic information we needed and pointing us to the right SAP resources if we needed anything more. Oco Analytics came with no documentation on the tool itself, and we really didn’t need any. It’s that easy to use. We created a quick reference guide with details on what information each report contained.

** Note: Since this review's publication, Deloitte LLP announced its planned acquisition of the assets and customer base of Oco Inc.

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