PLATFORMS: Samsung stores data in an AST server on NT using SAP. MIS Alea and ImportMaster are used to access, analyze and manipulate data from these systems.

BACKGROUND: Specializing in everything from electronics, machinery, semiconductors, chemicals, finance, insurance and automotives, the Korean corporate giant Samsung Electronics employs about 180,000 people worldwide. The Electronics Division, in Roissy, France, handles stocking, sales and delivery of Samsung products to French customers. Since 1990, the division has recorded average annual growth of 30 percent in markets that include multimedia, home appliances, telecommuncations and information systems. Turning to the technology solutions of the German software developer MIS AG, M.J. Kim, a Samsung Electronics worldwide information technology manager, envisioned and managed the implementation of a "controlling data warehouse" for the sales and marketing executives of Samsung France.

PROBLEM SOLVED: In the mid-1990s, Samsung France made a strategic decision to implement SAP as its worldwide ERP solution. As a result, Samsung's controller warehouse had to be modified to get its data from SAP. The company's SAP servers are based at the Europe IT Data Center in Wynyard, England. Here, SAP-Exporter formed the basis for data transfer. During the process, extract-description files are generated. Based on this data, SAP-Converter transforms the files into the desired databases or text files. From here, MIS ImportMaster runs the dimension update and data-feed scripts. These tasks are fully automated and managed by the MIS ImportMaster Job Scheduler.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Because of the Alea planning system's success, Samsung Electronics is broadening the system to include a controller data pool. Samsung also hopes to roll out its system to other European divisions. Another issue to be addressed will be supplying the key manager and controller information not only via LAN or WAN but also via the Internet. Alea JavaClient has the potential to enable the next stage of information access regardless of inter-company network technology.

STRENGTHS: Power, multidimensionality, a flexible and interactive user environment, affordability and the familiarity of Excel are some Alea's strengths cited by Samsung executives. Alea makes it easier for Samsung sales representatives to analyze and manage their business and sales results. This includes analyzing customer and product portfolios with graphic views of their results. Applications built with Alea are more efficient because they are developed by marketing people working with Excel, without having to involve the IT group for system development.

WEAKNESSES: Alea's engine speed is slower than its direct competitors. However, MIS is currently resolving this issue with the release of Alea 3.3 in early fall.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Kim initially chose Alea based on his broad experience in bringing business data to top management and analytical users. "Alea is ideal for the analytical requirements of our users," says Kim. Hee-il Shin, manager of marketing for Samsung France, also notes that "the development costs for Alea were lower and the implementation schedules much shorter than if we had ordered a relational database system."

DELIVERABLES: Before the implementation of MIS Alea, annual plans for sales and marketing at Samsung France could not be easily adjusted. With Alea we tune the plan each month to adapt to the constantly changing requirements that are standard today in a global company. Our responsiveness today in managing change would simply not be possible without Alea. Samsung's sales representatives also can now produce graphic views of their analysis.

VENDOR SUPPORT: MIS AG provides its customers with technical support via the telephone and the Internet. On-site coaching can also be arranged to help clients develop specific applications.

DOCUMENTATION: All MIS Solutions technology comes with a comprehensive user manual. And because Alea's user interface is Excel, trainees are working in a familiar environment. "It took me four days to train all 25 users," says Shin. "The training time and costs for a relational database would have been much higher."

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