BACKGROUND: Federal Express, a subsidiary of FDX Corp., serves regions accounting for 90 percent of the world's gross domestic product with 24-48 hour, door-to-door delivery services. The company maintains electronic connections with more than a million customers.

PLATFORMS: WebFOCUS is deployed on two, dual-Pentium PCs, using Microsoft SQL Server 6.5 as the local database. It receives weekly and monthly feeds from multiple legacy systems including IMS, DB2 and flat files.

PROBLEM SOLVED: The company's well-known retail network, which accounts for 21 percent of overall volume, currently includes 7500+ storefront locations, drop-boxes and agreements with shipment and office chains. Operating or maintaining cooperative business agreements for operation of these sites is expensive. Like any retailer, it must balance the cost of local presence by identifying which locations are the most ­ and least ­ profitable. The analyses grow even more complex. FedEx's marketing goals include analyzing the types, or demographics, of the customers it is reaching and identifying which sites or outlets are the most productive in reaching desired customers or market segments. The data comes from multiple sources, including FedEx's internal systems and third-party syndicated market data. FedEx has already established a reputation for effective use of the Web with its package tracking Internet site. With WebFOCUS, the Retail Division hopes to use the Web to provide analysis needed for the design of mass, one-to-one marketing and sales programs. The goal is profitably ­ delivering the right mix of services to each customer of the retail network.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: WebFOCUS produces HTML-formatted reports that are very flexible. It can generate HTML reports dynamically, complete with hot links to relevant URLs. It supports HTTP, providing a fully open, Web-compliant reporting solution. It also provides the ability to actively distribute HTML reports via e-mail and to "burst" large volumes of reports on a scheduled basis during off-peak hours. It comes as part of s FOCUS desktop that will allow deployment in multiple modes including HTML, Java and Windows-based client/server.

STRENGTHS: WebFOCUS is very flexible and is easy for non-technical users to run. With WebFOCUS, business users no longer require IT assistance to request reports.

WEAKNESSES: With our plans to load up to two or three years of detail and summary data, it has grown clear that the FOCUS database backing WebFOCUS will not be able to handle the anticipated volume of data. For now, we have migrated to Microsoft SQL Server but are considering IBI's FUSION multidimensional data store.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We chose WebFOCUS because of a number of factors. Its ease of use made developers very productive, while allowing non-technical desktop users to generate their own reports. With features such as dynamic hyperlinks, it uses the Web very effectively. The icing on the cake was that WebFOCUS was offered as part of an broad solution that also included OLAP functionality. Furthermore, IBI's 18-year track record as enterprise reporting solutions provider has proven to us that they are a very reliable partner.

DELIVERABLES: The system is currently serving 120 internal marketing, operations and sales analysts. The system currently stores three months of operational data; our ultimate goal is maintaining over three years of data, including 26 months of detailed data and another 12 months of summarized historical data. We have greatly increased the speed by which we deliver routine reports to business analysts; some reports which formerly took up to two weeks to deliver can now be generated in less than a couple hours.

VENDOR SUPPORT: IBI has been very responsive to our needs. They have consistently directed us to the right authority whenever we have pressing technical issues. They have also made it easy for us to try new technologies ­ such as WebFOCUS ­ by providing trial copies.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation has proven adequate for our needs.

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