REVIEWER: Joel Taylor, director of IT for FiberMark.
BACKGROUND: FiberMark's specialty fiber-based materials (specialty paper and nonwovens) maintain the engines of commerce and industry. They are used in construction and renovation, office and medical supplies and electronics. They enhance color, texture and performance for graphic design applications. Our 12 U.S. and European facilities produce products from a variety of natural and man-made materials cotton, metal and synthetic fibers, wood pulp and recovered paper for a broad range of applications.
PLATFORMS: FiberMark runs QlikView on an NT-based Web server with dual 2 GHz processors and one gigabyte of memory. The end users are accessing the QlikView applications via their regular Web browsers on their PCs, which run with 128 megabytes of memory and 500 MHz processors. There are 130 users, including five power users.
PROBLEM SOLVED: FiberMark was doing a fine job of managing ERP related data, but we were forced to run thousands of pages of reports to try to glean useful information from the data. There was no way to ask a new question without having the IS department design a new query and report, which was costly and time-consuming. QlikView allows the user to do "what if" queries on the fly and print the result quickly. Management used to ask what happened. Now, because they see the data quickly and in an intuitive manner, they ask why it happened. To further complicate matters, the data from finance, sales and other key areas was stored in a variety of places, such as the J.D. Edwards system, Access databases, Excel spreadsheets, Oracle databases and SAP applications. QlikView allowed us to have a common presentation of disparate systems without having to go through the expense of merging these systems.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: QlikView is highly interactive, intuitive data analysis software that works much like your mind works, allowing you to jump from one insight to another with just a click. Selections made in columns or on graphs bring immediate changes to the QlikView dashboard. Associated values float to the top of their display boxes, and graphs and tables instantly update. The reason for this speed is QlikView's memory-based "data cloud." The data cloud is a non-redundant, non pre- aggregated associative database that resides in the computer's primary memory. This patented architecture removes the need to develop complex and hard-to- maintain data warehouses and OLAP-cubes. Because the data is not pre- aggregated, it is also possible to analyze and interact with the "data cloud" from any piece of data, at any level, and move in any dimension from there. QlikView also provides "reverse answers" to queries. For example, when a sales region is selected, all the values associated with that region float to the top of their display boxes. The values not associated with the selected region are grayed and sink to the bottom of the display box. Often, these "reverse answers" provide us with more insight than the answers we were originally seeking.
STRENGTHS: QlikView's ease of use and intuitive interface are major strengths. Staff and management were trained in a matter of hours and haven't needed to be retrained if they are away from the system for a while. The overall speed of QlikView is also important. Answers can be found in seconds, as opposed to digging through page after page of printed reports. QlikView is able to pull data from any source, making it simple to combine and interact with business information from multiple sources. The reduction in printer loads has resulted in significant savings in paper and toner for the laser printers.
WEAKNESSES: QlikView doesn't include report generators, making it awkward to produce sophisticated reports. Also, its graphical capabilities are somewhat limited, though they are scheduled to be upgraded in the upcoming QlikView version 6.
SELECTION CRITERIA: Selection criteria included a fast ROI, rapid implementation time and lower initial cost. QlikTech delivered on all of these. It paid for itself almost immediately in error correction alone.
DELIVERABLES: FiberMark now uses QlikView-based applications for sales analysis, purchasing analysis, inventory control and financial analysis. We are also developing an application for the human resources department.
VENDOR SUPPORT: The QlikView installation was amazingly fast, and development of new applications has been easy. QlikTech was originally brought in to develop a sales analysis application. QlikTech's consultants were able to install and configure the application in less than a week. Training was similarly quick and effective.
DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is quite thorough and has provided the answers we've needed.
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