PLATFORMS: Symantec accesses information residing in the company's Oracle Financials database and Oracle Data Warehouse on Sun Solaris servers.

BACKGROUND: As a leading provider of solutions to keep computer users productive and computers virus-free, Symantec Corporation has established a successful track record as an early adopter of leading-edge business technologies.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Symantec Corporation needed an easier way to provide its worldwide product, account and country managers with up-to-date revenue, spending and sales information. They wanted to find a solution that leveraged the strengths of the Web to reduce client-side administration and improve distribution of information, while providing an easy-to-use interface through a Web browser. The managers were specifically looking for an application that would provide a graphical look at data that was easy to use, cost-effective to deploy and maintain, and would enable a wider variety of users to access and analyze business information. AlphaBlox Enlighten met Symantec's needs because it provided a platform optimized for the development and delivery of analytical applications. Analytic applications can be customized to a specific line of business as well as user profile, providing only the information and the right analysis capabilities necessary for a particular user.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The AlphaBlox Enlighten application accesses Symantec's sales and revenue data from an Oracle data warehouse which contains cached data from Oracle Financials. The information is accessed via Microsoft Internet Explorer. The data is provided in a graphical interface, allowing users to drill down and interactively analyze vital sales data.

STRENGTHS: The key to AlphaBlox Enlighten is ease of use, both from the perspective of the IS staff and the end users. This application was assembled and in production with dozens of users globally in less than a week and was so easy to learn that users could be up and running in a matter of days. Another key strength is AlphaBlox's Application Assembly Studio product of application templates. The ready-to-configure application templates enabled Symantec to configure and deploy a second application customized for market share analysis in a fraction of the time it would have taken with any other method. The combination of assembling and configuring applications is very powerful.

WEAKNESSES: Currently, Symantec and AlphaBlox are working together to set up an AlphaBlox analysis server (BASE) and Web servers in Europe to alleviate performance concerns about having to access data across a WAN. The architecture involves storing data views in a BASE repository residing in Europe-- one that is controlled and maintained from corporate headquarters. End users in Europe will then have an AlphaBlox application that is deployed via the European LAN, accessing data that is also locally resident.

SELECTION CRITERIA: AlphaBlox Enlighten was chosen over other products due to its ability to create customized analysis applications directly from a database. There was no need to replicate data in a separate repository area or maintain a duplicate outline that must be calculated. AlphaBlox Enlighten enabled the developer to create a single application flexible enough to satisfy the requirements of many customers, (i.e., the ability to drag and drop data columns and to slice and dice data in multiple ways while viewing graphical and tabular data on-the-fly).

DELIVERABLES: AlphaBlox Enlighten provides Symantec's managers with analytic applications that are powerful yet easy to use. The applications are specific to each user's need, providing only the information and analysis capabilities that each user needs. Users can interactively analyze the data quickly, explore all business scenarios and become instantly aware of major trends in the sales of their products. Because AlphaBlox Enlighten applications are so easy to assemble and customize, Symantec will use AlphaBlox Enlighten to deliver applications to analyze channel data and marketing trends in the near future.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Support for the product has been great. With each new product release, our issues and concerns have been addressed. The technical support line has been very good at returning calls, suggesting solutions and problem fixes.

DOCUMENTATION: The on-line documentation is thorough and easy to follow.

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