CATEGORY: BI Tools
REVIEWER: Todd Zilinski, director of middleware architecture for Telephia, Inc.
BACKGROUND: Through its proprietary data collection technologies and exclusive partnerships with premier information providers, Telephia empowers the wireless industry with mission-critical data and intelligence to better acquire, retain and serve customers. Its wide array of information products and services plays a vital role in helping wireless voice and wireless data/Internet businesses improve their growth and profit performance. San Francisco-based Telephia is a privately held company with leading investors that include AEA Investors, Oak Hill Venture Partners, The Megunticook Fund and Cedar Grove Investments, LLC.
PLATFORMS: Microsoft NT Server on a single processor Intel-based server.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Implementing Databeacon into Telephia's client data delivery Web site allows users the freedom to view crucial market spending and network quality data in a multidimensional, cross-tab format. Users can explore and view data using their own criteria instead of a predefined, banded-style report.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: We have created a selection form on our customer Web site for users to choose the boundaries of the data set they wish to view. Users select the Databeacon analysis option to perform multidimensional analysis on Telephia's data. They also have the option to view the data using the predefined report format or the Excel output options. Once the Databeacon option is selected, the data set is created and sent to the Databeacon server, which creates a cube "on the fly" and delivers the information to an applet on the user's browser. The product has been running reliably for eight months in production. In the future, we will implement predefined view templates to make it even easier for customers to initiate their analyses and attract more "mainstream" users outside the "power-user" category. We also plan on porting this to a UNIX server to align with our architecture strategy.
STRENGTHS: Databeacon was easy to integrate into Telephia's custom-built information delivery architecture. The lightweight applet is easy to download and causes no problems with customers' firewalls. The tool itself is easy to learn and use. The predefined one-click report templates allow less experienced users to start at an intuitive position within the cube.
WEAKNESSES: Databeacon is a simple OLAP tool, missing the enhanced functionality found in more vertically integrated products. For instance, the tool is not able to create calculated metrics based on dimensional attributes such as time-based metrics. An example of this would be trying to display change in value from last month to this month or change over the last three months. These calculations need to be done ahead of time in the database. Also, the tool always aggregates across all dimensions, so you can't selectively control aggregation. Trying to display company headcount over time would not make sense at certain drill levels due to aggregation. This has been partially addressed in the latest version by allowing users to hide the top level of the dimension.
SELECTION CRITERIA: Databeacon was selected for its intuitive user interface and its ease of integration into our system. This tool worked well with our requirements to build transient cubes "on the fly." We wrote the software to control access permissions to the data loaded into the Databeacon cube. The less vertically integrated nature of the software made it the best choice for our custom-built Web site.
DELIVERABLES: Databeacon delivers small, dynamic analytical cubes to our users. This adds value to Telephia's data by allowing the analytical user to quickly gain useful insights. The product has worked particularly well with Telephia's Market Dynamics and Quality of Service product suites. We also use the product internally to deliver customer Web site usage statistics to Telephia's professional services organization and product managers.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Databeacon support responded quickly to any problems we encountered. Their product managers listened to our comments and incorporated many of our functionality requests into their newest version.
DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is a mix of HTML- and PDF-based files installed with the software. A good HTML-based user guide is provided. Because of Databeacon's rather intuitive nature, we have found that users can get up to speed with minimal instruction.
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