Reducing Dependency and Load on IT
The Company is a leading designer, marketer and distributor of arts and crafts products. It sells its proprietary designs and brands, plus commodity products primarily to national craft chains and mass merchandisers, and to a lesser extent, independent craft retailers.
The Company had focussed on selective acquisitions, growing the business, and bolstering its ability to serve mass market retailers. This growth lead to the realization that they had to consolidate their operations onto a single ERP solution to drive efficiencies in their organization, and capture the data they needed to analyze their business.
While the ERP implementation improved operational efficiency and provided the data foundations required for analysis, the Company had to become a more effective organization. To drive performance, the Company needed to transform their data into actionable information.
The vast amounts of data being collected by the ERP needed to be combined with legacy system data, then aggregated, summarized and filtered to support executive decision making. Furthermore, this information needed to be shared across the organization without putting undue strain on IT resources or any operational systems.
The solution involved deploying an entire business intelligence solution, branded as CRAFTnet. Reporting and analysis solutions for Sales, Inventory, and Purchasing, and the supporting data warehouse, were deployed in 4 months. The data warehouse brings together data from multiple operational systems, including multiple CMS i5 databases. While the Company’s operational systems are optimized for transactional efficiency, the data warehouse is optimized for high speed reporting, summarization and analysis. IBM Cognos is used to present data to business users in a friendly, intuitive environment.
After the data warehouse is refreshed each night, IBM Cognos PowerPlay is used to build multi-dimensional data cubes for business analysis. These multi-dimensional cubes, allow users to slice and dice their unified business data to identify performance trends and gaps using simple drag and drop functionality.
CRAFTnet users’ single point of entry into the data warehouse is through the IBM Cognos portal. Using only a web browser, users access their reports via a friendly, intuitive interface.
CRAFTnet uses a centralized security model in IBM Cognos that integrates with the Company’s existing Microsoft Active Directory. Users are only allowed to see content related to their respective departments.
Results and Benefits
CRAFTnet allows the users to retrieve the information they need, when they need it, in a format that meets their needs, and eliminates the complexity of the underlying data. This has reduced the load on IT to be involved in this process, which is a real costs savings. CRAFTnet has allowed the users to make decisions that are supported by timely information.
The Company needed to leverage their investments in their business applications, and put their business data to use to drive improved performance. The project team’s knowledge of their CMS i5 ERP solution, and IBM Cognos Business Intelligence applications has helped the Company to implement an end-to-end solution. The Company now has the ability to see what happened, and answer the question of why it happened. Using analysis tools, they can now also begin to predict what is going to happen. That’s putting your business data to good use.