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OshKosh B'Gosh Performs Timely Business Analysis with DataMirror

  • August 01 2002, 1:00am EDT

OshKosh B'Gosh has been a household name since 1895. The company's roots can be traced to manufacturing sturdy bib overalls for farm and railway workers. Today, children's wear represents 99 percent of OshKosh B'Gosh's business worldwide. Its products are available in more than 50 countries through a network of licensees, distributors and company-owned operations. Starting with a single store in 1981, the OshKosh B'Gosh retail chain has grown to include more than 150 stores throughout the U.S. and an e-commerce site for direct sales to consumers.

At OshKosh B'Gosh, we have a clear vision. Our vision is to become the dominant global marketer of branded products for children ages newborn to 10. This will be accomplished by leveraging our existing brand franchise in OshKosh B'Gosh and utilizing our core competencies to supply the market with all appropriate products for children where quality, durability and fashion innovation are important. Secondly, we will pursue niche opportunities where appropriate in adult apparel, where our century-old heritage can provide meaningful differential advantage to address the needs of the marketplace.

Our computing environment consists of four IBM iSeries (AS/400) systems running various applications including finance, sales, development, warehousing, order processing and management, and manufacturing production scheduling applications. In addition, we have two RS/6000s to support our retail business and planning system. We also have multiple Intel- based servers to support and maintain our design system and our intranet and Internet sites.

In 1995, our IS department conducted a survey which disclosed that our employees were not satisfied with the limited access they had to current corporate data. At that time, our staff was required to sift through mountains of paper in order to extract on-line transaction processing (OLTP) data for manual input to spreadsheets for analysis. Our customer service representatives were spending days processing a week's worth of data in order to track cancellations and returns to determine why orders were being cancelled. Additionally, our sales force was searching through mounds of paperwork to find wholesale customer sell-through data in order to determine the quantity of products that were moving through a particular department store.

We clearly needed a more efficient and effective way of accessing data to perform business analysis in a timely manner. We began searching for a real-time, multiplatform data integration solution that would manage our data by transmitting information from our production system to our data warehouse, offer the option of net-change data integration and accommodate future acquisitions.

After investigating a number of other solutions, we selected DataMirror Transformation Server because of its simple architecture and robust iSeries capabilities. Transformation Server captures our OLTP data changes and reliably loads and replenishes our data warehouse with current information.

Companies need to ensure that their operational data stores are populated with "clean data" in order to perform data analysis. Drawing from our team's firsthand experience, in addition to eliminating duplicate and erroneous data, companies should ensure that all data is appropriately coded within each data field. Coding data makes it easier for companies to query and analyze the data they need within specific categories.

DataMirror Transformation Server is key to our day-to-day business operations. This is evidenced in the number of daily transactions that are replicated with the aid of the solution. To date, more than 1 billion records have been integrated into the data warehouse using Transformation Server. Our production iSeries contains 6.6 million records flagged for data replication and transformation on a daily basis.

This solution's powerful data integration and on-the-fly transformation capabilities ensure that the operational data store is populated with the latest data in a format conducive to query and analysis. With the data warehouse solution in place, our customer service personnel are now able to efficiently analyze cancellation and customer return information. The process of query and analysis has been reduced from days to less than a few hours. Sell-through information is also being tracked in a more timely and effective manner.

DataMirror Transformation Server captures, transforms and flows data bidirectionally and in real time between DB2 UDB, Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, Sybase and XML across UNIX, Linux, Microsoft Windows NT/2000/XP, OS/400, OS/390 and z/OS. Transformation Server supports a wide range of business applications including EAI, e-business, business intelligence and customer relationship management.

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