BACKGROUND: MarketStar Corporation offers clients an outsourced sales and marketing advantage in the VAR, retail and direct channels, helping to bring client products to market quicker and at a reduced cost supported by virtual market research.
PLATFORMS: The Microsoft SQL Server 7.0 data warehouse is currently running Windows NT version 4.0 on a dual-processor 350 MHz Pentium II processor-based server with 384MB of RAM. Business analysts at MarketStar and their client, Hewlett-Packard, are running the Knosys ProClarity desktop business analysis application on 250 machines to access and analyze the Microsoft OLAP cubes. Additional business users at HP are simply accessing Knosys ProClarity Active Books via their PC Web browser for fully interactive Web-based analysis over the corporate intranet/extranet.
PROBLEM SOLVED: MarketStar was gathering vast amounts of information for our clients that wasn't being used to its potential because of the timing and format of the data. ProClarity and Microsoft OLAP Services provided us with near real-time data access that gave our clients the ability to do their own analysis and create their own customizable summary reports without having to wait for a programmer on our end to create one. The channel marketing data gathered by MarketStar field reps is loaded into the Microsoft SQL Server 7.0 data warehouse. Then the data is organized by business model into Microsoft OLAP Services multidimensional cubes. HP analysts use the Knosys ProClarity OLAP business analysis desktop application to access the cubes, analyze the data and then create Knosys Active Books which are posted to the HP corporate intranet for communication and collaboration on analysis findings. HP business decision-makers can then access the Knosys Active Books via their Web browser and perform interactive Web-based analysis.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The product is meeting all expectations. We are planning to use more Knosys Active Books in the future to compensate for the growth of our existing program.
STRENGTHS: The advanced data visualization tools that ProClarity provides make it easy to analyze very large data sets and to understand the complex relationships among disparate data sources. ProClarity also comes with wizards that help the analyst create complex summary reports of analysis findings to post on the corporate intranet/extranet with a few clicks of the mouse. These findings summaries, Knosys Active Books, can then be accessed by business users via their Web browser, and the user can perform additional interactive Web-based analysis.
WEAKNESSES: During the final phase of our OLAP project, MarketStar ran into a few problems connecting our Microsoft OLAP Services multidimensional cubes with the clients. It would have been very helpful if one of the consulting services that Knosys provided was dealing with those types of situations.
SELECTION CRITERIA: MarketStar chose ProClarity because Hewlett-Packard (HP) recommended Knosys. HP was already using Knosys for several other projects, and this gave them the ability to tie their pre-existing data with information from our field force.
DELIVERABLES: MarketStar's field force gathers information using handheld devices. The information is then stored in a Microsoft SQL Server data warehouse which can be accessed by HP. This gives HP the ability to create intranet/extranet Web-based reports which are used to communicate analysis findings to key decision-makers. This information allows HP to make critical decisions concerning pricing, competition and merchandising.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Knosys provided the support we needed to implement this program. When we had questions or problems, they were very easy to reach and gave us the help we needed.
DOCUMENTATION: The documentation for ProClarity is well-organized and easy to understand. There are great screen shot examples that put users in the mind frame of producing creative reporting.
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