BACKGROUND: Newgen Results designs and implements targeted database marketing programs for the automobile dealership industry. Newgen provides market-leading services to over 2,000 North American automobile dealers. Newgen's leading-edge products and services are used to promote regular vehicle checkups, generate additional dealership revenue and enhance customer loyalty and satisfaction.

PLATFORMS: Newgen Results' database runs on Oracle8.0 on HP and Sun platforms. End users access the Windows NT Server 4.0 network and database with PCs running Windows NT Workstation 4.0.

PROBLEM SOLVED: The amount of automobile dealership information stored at Newgen continues to grow; and with the company's core competencies in customer retention and database management, it was crucial to implement a powerful reporting system to analyze and display business and customer data. The implementation of Seagate Crystal Reports has addressed three distinct business needs at Newgen. The first was a need for predesigned reports to run queries on customers' automobile service purchase habits. Secondly, Newgen needed the ability to implement an on-the-fly reporting system to assess staffing requirements for the company call center on a day-to-day or even hourly basis. These reports and ad hoc queries are now regularly distributed to call center management. Seagate Crystal Reports also addressed Newgen management requirements for business decision-making information by providing weekly and monthly financial reports.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Seagate Crystal Reports is a comprehensive reporting solution. Newgen now has access to 30 different predesigned reports, each with a different set of parameters that users can define through a customized front-end interface created in Microsoft Visual Basic. Seagate Crystal Reports provides a variety of predefined reporting functions and seamless integration with application development tools such as Visual Basic. Newgen is exploring the possibility of implementing the Seagate Crystal Reports Web server components which will allow customers and employees (including a remote sales force) to access reports via the Web, intranet or extranet. The ability to visualize data geographically with Seagate Crystal Reports' new mapping functionality will also be explored.

STRENGTHS: Seagate Crystal Reports' functionality is exceptional ­ it is an extremely powerful reporting tool. From basic report design to sophisticated ad hoc query and analysis, Seagate Crystal Reports has continually exceeded our expectations.

WEAKNESSES: The graphing functionality of Seagate Crystal Reports is awkward to apply and would benefit from a more intuitive interface to improve ease of use. The recently released Seagate Crystal Reports Version 7 addresses this issue.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Although Seagate Crystal Reports is accepted as a best-of-breed reporting tool, Newgen did analyze five different reporting products and conducted rigorous feature-to-feature and function-to-function comparisons. Seagate Crystal Reports emerged as the clear winner, and the product was selected based primarily on its powerful reporting capabilities and connectivity to Oracle databases.

DELIVERABLES: Newgen has observed positive and cost-saving results with on-demand, real-time access to data through Seagate Crystal Reports. Newgen call center managers can now make on-the-fly staffing decisions based on accurate call volume reports. Automobile dealerships are able to request information that highlights trends on their customers' purchasing behaviors. A Newgen employee simply runs a query within the stated parameters, and the dealership receives a customized report. All external reports created for automobile dealerships are printed or sent by fax, but Newgen is planning to make use of the Web as a universal client for report access. Seagate Crystal Reports technology has also assisted in uncovering and displaying line-management issues, ROI measurements and database program metrics.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Pre-sales and marketing support was first-rate as was the Seagate Crystal Reports training session. Depth of knowledge and level of responsiveness from Seagate Software sales staff was impressive.

DOCUMENTATION: Seagate Crystal Reports documentation was very complete, but it is difficult to locate certain information. This could be solved with more extensive indexing.

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