BACKGROUND: Stores Automated Systems, Inc. (SASI) designs, develops, manufactures, markets and supports innovative, integrated point-of-sale systems, checkout systems and targeted loyalty and marketing programs. SASI's targeted customer marketing business unit develops fully customized business intelligence systems which enable companies to build one-to-one marketing relationships with customers by identifying them individually, differentiating them from other customers, interacting with them more cost-effectively and providing them with a customized path to relevant products and services.

PLATFORMS: Intel Pentium 200 MHz or comparable processor and monitor supporting 1024 x 768 resolution. Microsoft Windows NT 4.0, Windows 95 or Windows 98. The product supports access to multiple data sources including Oracle, Sybase, Informix, Microsoft SQL Server, Red Brick and others.

PROBLEM SOLVED: SASI is using Visual Insights ADVIZOR to discover trends and patterns in a customer's transaction data in the retail industry. This provides new insights into a customer's needs and purchasing behavior, which is then used to create targeted marketing campaigns.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: SASI is in the early stages of integrating ADVIZOR, but so far it is functioning well. Developers are pleased with the product, and demonstrations at industry shows have been well received. In addition to the use of data constellation for associations, it is expected that other ADVIZOR components will be used to add an analytic and visual dimension to other areas of SASI's service offering.

STRENGTHS: Visual Insights ADVIZOR is an ideal business intelligence solution for companies looking to create interactive data visualization-based applications. From basic histograms to complex data constellations, ADVIZOR provides the functionality required for our current and proposed development within the retail industry. It is a comprehensive, robust, fast and versatile application that contains an impressive selection of professional quality presentation graphics that allows rapid development of simple and complex reports. The speed of data loading and interaction with all of the ADVIZOR components is very quick. It also has dynamic linking of all visualizations, which allows for automatic update/synchronization of all graphics when the data selection is changed.

WEAKNESSES: A high-level overview and description of the many visual components would save much "trial-by-error" learning. On- line API documentation is good once you know the high-level concepts. Understanding the high-level concepts of data loading, manipulation, how the various components interact and by what method, etc., is the hard part.

SELECTION CRITERIA: The major reason for selecting ADVIZOR for this application was the innovative way in which associations (or affinities) are visualized. The data constellation component is unique in its approach, breaking away from traditional 3-D charts found in most other products. The data constellation component effectively combines lines, points, thickness and color to provide a simple but powerful visualization through which users can see relationships and their relative strengths quickly and easily. The ability for users to directly interact with the visualization makes ADVIZOR an excellent platform for drill down and exploration of the large set of affinities that typically can be found in point-of-sale data.

DELIVERABLES: ADVIZOR allows users to produce interactive visualization applications either alone or in combination with existing data mining and analysis applications. It replaces the need to use complex query languages as required in other business intelligence systems by providing an interactive visualization-based interface to easily identify and select specific areas of interest and drill down for further analysis.

VENDOR SUPPORT: The Visual Insights' technical support staff is very knowledgeable and provides very efficient and personalized, friendly service (no phone menu systems). Product upgrades and patches were also provided in a very efficient manner.

DOCUMENTATION: The API documentation is very good, but it would be very beneficial to have documentation that provides a high-level overview of the many components in ADVIZOR.

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