BACKGROUND: Owens & Minor, a Fortune 500 company headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, is the nation's leading distributor of branded medical/surgical supplies. The company's distribution centers throughout the United States serve hospitals, integrated healthcare networks and group purchasing organizations. In addition to its diverse product offerings, Owens & Minor helps customers control healthcare costs and improve inventory management through innovative services in supply chain management, logistics and technology.
PLATFORMS: Operating system: HP servers (containing 2 CPUs with 18GB of storage). Platform system: Windows NT (IIS Internet software).
PROBLEM SOLVED: Owens & Minor was looking for a way to open its data warehouse to internal customers via an intranet and to trading partners via an extranet. We wanted purchasing officers at the 4,000 hospitals that buy from Owens & Minor to have direct access to supply information that would help them negotiate better prices, consolidate inventory and create a more efficient supply chain. We have used Business Object's WebIntelligence to create an intranet across departments to provide up-to-the-minute corporate and customer data and reporting. Our latest roll out is a supply chain extranet for customers, suppliers and partners tapping into the data warehouse.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: We use both the full client version of BusinessObjects (500 users) and WebIntelligence (25 users). The full client BusinessObjects version has been the workhorse for all of our ad hoc query and reporting both at corporate headquarters and in the field (sales force). We are piloting WebIntelligence and will be in a roll-out mode for use by our customers and suppliers in the first quarter of 1999. We expect to roll out WebIntelligence to more than 1,000 users this year. We have developed an internal name for our Web-based DSS reporting through Web Intelligence called "WISDOM" (Web Intelligence Supporting Decisions from Owens & Minor).
STRENGTHS: The main strengths of the product include the semantic layer where all the behind-the-scenes technology is hidden from the user and the data is presented in business terms; versatility of the product for all types of users from the casual to power user; aggregate navigation; integration of the client version with the Web version (BusinessObjects with WebIntelligence); and the ability to schedule queries through Document Agent.
WEAKNESSES: We would like WebIntelligence to offer more complex variables and formulas for some of our more advanced users.
SELECTION CRITERIA: We chose WebIntelligence for the following reasons: ease of use, compatibility with Oracle, advanced functionality capabilities, automatic aggregate navigation and Business Objects' overall interest in our business.
DELIVERABLES: WebIntelligence provides key sales analysis for both internal reporting purposes as well as for customer and supplier informational needs. It sits on top of our data warehouse which provides flexibility for reporting and analysis on all subject areas within the data warehouse (sales, inventory, A/R, purchase orders, PO receivings, customer account service fees, sales budget). WISDOM has given us a competitive advantage by extending our DSS capabilities beyond our four walls to our trading partners.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Vendor support during the last year has been very good. Prior to that it was somewhat lacking. The vendor has been extremely interested in our innovative way of positioning their Web tool. In the last year we have established a very strong partnership.
DOCUMENTATION: WebIntelligence can be easily run from the documentation and help screens provided.
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