REVIEWER: Efi Dovrat, executive director for Meir Ezra Group.

BACKGROUND: The Meir Ezra Group is Israel's market leader in the import, production and distribution of a broad range of quality food products. Operating in the kosher food sector, the group is the country's largest importer, producer and distributor of frozen, chilled, fresh and dried meat, poultry and fish products as well as canned foods, baked products, biscuit snacks, west European cheeses and Belgian praline chocolates. The various companies in the group are organized into two divisions engaged in production and commerce. Total sales have increased substantially in recent years, reaching $463 million during 2001.

PLATFORMS: Panorama NovaView e-BI runs on Microsoft Windows 97 using OLAP Analysis Services and retrieves the data from AS/400 and OS/400.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Before we began using Panorama's technologies, the management and sales teams worked from a series of preformatted reports printed from a central database at regular intervals. Most of the time the information that was given was not timely, nor did the data fit the requirements of the variety of people who needed it. In the course of discussion at executive meetings, if a relevant question was raised outside the scope of the report, a new report would have to be ordered and the topic tabled until it arrived. The introduction of NovaView was a revolution! Mid-discussion, a team member can now tap into almost real- time data on the laptop in the boardroom via the NovaView interface, and in an instant we can make an informed decision. We no longer have to wait for a specific report in order to address management issues ­ in the boardroom or in our offices. Each manager now has secured and controlled access to our corporate database, when he or she needs it. The sales department was first to incorporate NovaView into its daily routine. Now finance, business development and logistics functions use the solution. Managers across the board rely on NovaView to make better decisions faster ­ and our bottom line reflects it.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The days of preformatted, predated reports are gone. Managers have been freed from the piles of papers that once dominated their desks. Now, with the tap of a few fingers and the drag of a mouse, we can make the necessary critical decisions. The NovaView client remains open on my desktop as I work in a host of other applications. I just drag and drop data as I need it. I, like a number of my colleagues, no longer notice how much I rely upon NovaView to make business choices. It is second nature to open the NovaView client, make a query ­ no matter how complex ­ and continue working with the results delivered via a diversity of graphs, charts and tables ­ all of which can be understood at a glance.

STRENGTHS: Rapid response time, flexibility, the user- friendly interface, comprehensibility of the views and briefing books, the ability to make complex data requests with ease and the diverse functionality (filters, drag and drop, bubble-up exceptions, etc.) are all key strengths of NovaView.

WEAKNESSES: In the five years I have been using Panorama technologies, the solution has only improved. My experience with the solution has also improved over the years, as I have become a real power user. Initially, we had problems with somewhat slow processing times; however, Panorama has addressed this in more recent releases.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We chose Panorama because of its inherent flexibility. When designing the solution, our firm gave input as to the analytics implemented. The user has amazing abilities to manipulate the data queried and the resulting views and reports.

DELIVERABLES: The reports, views, graphs, charts and briefing books that one can create with NovaView are endless. As business environments change, so do our needs and the outputs that we create with NovaView. Team members have various views they favor, which can be seen in the executive reports distributed during key decision-making sessions.

VENDOR SUPPORT: During the initial implementation process, Panorama took a very proactive stance, making every effort to meet our needs. Training on the solution was extensive, but not overly time-consuming, as the product does not require it. Now, we rarely contact the support team because we are quite confident in our abilities to get the data we want from NovaView.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is complete and easy to understand.

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