15th December 2006 --- Sydney, Australia: inTuator article published in IBM Systems Issue # 59 December 2006
Business Information Reporting – Capitalize on the rich source of data available on your System i.
When you need flexible, on demand information from your System i application, whether Manufacturing, HR, Banking, Medical, Financial or Sales – with views over it precisely reflecting your queries – you can’t always wait for IT to develop special reports or perform customized mining of your data warehouse (assuming you have one!) Three key findings from recent Information Management surveys indicate that most businesses struggle to realize the full value of the information available from the raw data in their application database.
Worryingly, users feel they do not have access to the information they need, while executives are more concerned about the integrity of the data and what kind of information actually has value for users!
Despite the massive investments in information technology and data gathering, companies still have a long way to go before they gain anything close to full value from their data. This creates an enormous opportunity for organizations that can do a better job of managing information than their competitors.
A cliché perhaps, but the objective of getting the right information, at the right time, into the right hands in the right form has never been more important. In today's challenging environment – Global Competition, Lower Barriers To Entry, Lower Profit Margins – the right information is essential for not only monitoring and analyzing critical business performance measures, but informed decision-making relies upon it. Meeting this objective usually requires a very significant investment in time, effort and money. Large corporations may be able to commit the necessary resources needed, but this is a burden beyond many small / medium enterprises and a challenge that Momentum Utilities, a software developer based in Sydney Australia, has stepped up to with inTuator - a data retrieval, analysis and information presentation solution specifically designed for the System i world.
When looking for a robust reporting solution, you will make things easier for yourself if you consider the following;
Reflecting on their selection of inTuator, Steve Shurge, Systems Manager at Recochem Inc. of Canada, recalls the pragmatic approach adopted: “We opted for inTuator because of its cost, integration with our manufacturing application Infor ERP XA and the business area coverage. It was also easy to learn because it uses Microsoft Excel PivotTable technology and was portable too. While inTuator is not an OLAP product, as a starter and to introduce BI concepts to our users it has proven to be more than adequate.”
The view of a software supplier is similarly practical. IMAS has long been the mainstay application for many manufacturing, retail and distribution companies worldwide, with a strong customer base in the Asia Pacific region. As Ajitha Ediriwira, Senior VP of Marketing at IMAS developer Golden Key, observes, “With demanding constraints on budgets and time, it can be difficult to deliver business information to the growing number of people that need it. Ideally our customers need an out-of-the-box, integrated, business information solution that can be deployed quickly, is scalable and affordable.” While IMAS is well suited to gather and store financial, sales, inventory and purchasing transaction data, effective decision-making requires an analysis-oriented data structure. This is where inTuator for IMAS now plays its part.
Usually IT generate analytical reports and queries for users. As such reports only provide static information, users soon request new reports, different sequences / views - often on the same information. inTuator changes the game, providing users with the power and self-sufficiency to ‘work with’ their own reports to produce different views of their information in ways they didn’t think possible, simply using ‘drag & drop’ or a few ‘clicks’ of their mouse!
To summarize, the key to successfully leveraging the value of the data in your System i application will always be determined by the ease of data retrieval and its transformation into information useable by your ‘knowledge workers’ - the users that make your business happen. This is the difficult and usually the most underrated and costly part of all BI implementations. inTuator’s underlying data retrieval ‘engine’ can make your BI project happen in days, not the usual months / years or, as one overjoyed customer noted, “inTuator exceeded expectations, delivering results within a few hours!”
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Case Study Anecdotes
Case Study 1
A national distributor of electrical components with more than 3000 product lines and an ‘on the road’ sales force.
Problem: Providing the Sales force with up-to date, accurate stock & customer / supplier information. With the volume of data exceeding 40mb, weekly mailing of CDs seemed the only answer but this was impractical as reps were often ‘on the road’ for more than a week at a time.
Result: Information packaged as often as needed and sent to each sales rep as an email attachment. inTuator’s packaging compression often exceeds 70%, making email a practical proposition.
Benefits: More frequent, better quality information led to improved customer service and satisfaction.
Case Study 2
An international bank with an accounting department of 60 users.
Problem: To improve and simplify access to both recent and historical accounting data including seamless export to Excel or other applications as needed.
Result: Implemented inTuator in days with minimal training needed. Users immediately productive, delivering better quality information, more promptly.
Benefits: Improved productivity, less printed output and more desktop access to information. Exporting to Excel is a breeze.
Case Study 3
A medium sized manufacturer and distributor of electrical and electronic goods.
Challenge: Problematic sales reporting based around IT extracting data using IBM Query, re-keying data from reports and re-formatting data for management resulting in questionable data integrity. (The production of sales reporting is a common challenge faced by many small companies)
Result: A sales administrator uses inTuator to provide consistent, timely views of sales information without IT involvement producing queries, extracts or downloads.
Benefits: Productivity in providing key business reporting has soared while confidence in the improved quality of the information provided has enhanced the decision making process.
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