Scheduling, sales and insight BI's goals

Business intelligence solutions are being increasingly widely deployed as customer service expectations grow.

Business intelligence solutions are being increasingly widely deployed as customer service expectations grow.

For electricity, gas and communications network provider Vector, added impetus for a BI system came with its acquisition of UnitedNetworks, which complicated the company’s network maintenance scheduling.

Vector, IT products distributor Express Data and Christchurch International Airport (CIAL) are all finalists in the business intelligence category of the Computerworld Excellence Awards.

Vector service delivery manager Steve Mutton, who’s a user of the company’s custom-made BI system, says it allows him to schedule maintenance work based on graphically presented historical data.

“For example, when we had to have a call centre shutdown, we were able to graph three years of data to show 2am on Tuesday has the lowest call volume.”

Similary, the system -– which is made up of components from Business Objects, Microsoft and ESRI –- can be used for scheduling network parts replacement on the basis of historical failure rates.

Auckland-based Express Data also has external factors -– exchange rates, for one -– to consider in the running of its IT products supply business. Through the implementation of a Microsoft and Q4bis solution, it’s now a mouse click away from knowing when stock is approaching the 90-day threshold beyond which margins are threatened by exhange rate volatility.

The company’s 1500 business partners and more than 20 product lines meant that existing reporting processes were cumbersome and, while experienced staff who knew their way around the system were coping, new users weren’t.

“We decided that without a tool to empower all users with equal access to data it would be difficult to sustain our growth and run a profitable business,” says spokesman Paul Plester.

With Q4bis -- which interfaces with SQL Server -– in place, product managers are now able to identify trends in minutes, rather than relying on instinct.

The company that manages Christchurch airport had two goals from its INSIGHT business intelligence project. If that sounds a modest number, the scope of the objectives is anything but. CIAL wanted to better understand its “industry, market and customers, and thus influence the current and future operation, capital investment and financial performance” of the airport community; and also to effect a cultural change within the organisation that would improve performance.

All of that was to be achieved against a background of the demise of the Ansett-Air New Zealand merger, war in Iraq, the SARS-influenced Asian downturn and the rise of budget airlines.

According to IS manager Stewart Gibbon, the system, which consists of Hyperion (formerly Brio) analysis and reporting tools, Novell data delivery functionality and Microsoft data stores, is responsive and flexible.

“The ability of the user to articulate a need and then for the solution to rapidly respond to that need has been proof of the project’s success,” Gibbon says.

The Computerworld awards will be presented in Auckland on June 25.

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