Better Data With Business Intelligence

June 30, 2005
Looking past ERP for sources.

Business Intelligence (BI) is big business. Everywhere, it seems, corporate leaders are striving to use sophisticated software suites to gain greater insights into the goings on at their companies. Indeed, a recent survey of 1,300 international CIOs by IT research firm, Gartner Inc., Stamford, Conn., revealed that BI spending is expected to rise 6% this year.

During the past two decades, manufacturing leaders relied on ERP software to tie operational decision-making to data analysis. But some manufacturers have found ERP to be clunky when it comes to extracting the fine details of operations quickly.

So it's no surprise that a number of companies dissatisfied with ERP as a business-intelligence tool have sought alternatives. The North American arm of German footwear and athletic apparel manufacturer PUMA AG typifies that move. PUMA decided to facilitate its real-time inventory management with the help of a predictive analytics program called ShowCase Suite from software and solutions firm SPSS Inc., Chicago.

Karen King, PUMA North America's (Westford, Mass.) data warehouse specialist, saw immediate benefits."Previous to Showcase, PUMA depended mainly on our ERP system reports," she says. But the ERP system lacked the flexibility that the fast-changing apparel sector demands. "PUMA was unable to change the existing reports without having to call the vendor, create a change order and wait for the modifications."

SPSS ShowCase Suite addressed those limitations. King now develops her own reports, makes her own changes and creates ad-hoc reports on the fly as the situation demands. Where creating a report with the ERP system would take a day or more, the new system allows King to obtain a report in less than an hour, sometimes in just 10 or 20 minutes. Today SPSS ShowCase Suite reports have replaced 80% of PUMA North America's ERP system reports.

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