Business analytics 'saves costs on programmers'

Business analytics software has helped magazine publisher DeAgostini to remove unnecessary busines intelligence software and avoid using programmers for greater cost efficiencies.

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Business analytics software has helped magazine publisher DeAgostini to remove unnecessary business intelligence software and avoid using programmers for greater cost efficiencies.

The Italian publisher, which in the UK sells collectible magazines with cover mounts of toys or DVDs, claimed it had vastly reduced the complexities of its business intelligence system by moving to Applix’s TM1 business analytics server. The company decommissioned a business intelligence software system based on Oracle Portal, Oracle Warehouse Builder and Discoverer, and a Citrix testing and development product. The company also migrated from Red Hat Linux to Microsoft’s Windows 2003 operating system.

"We reduced the complexity of our systems and the cost of ownership," Gian Fulgoni, IT director at Applix, told Computerworld UK.

Fulgoni would not put a figure on the costs the company has saved since the project has been completed, but added that the company has seen other benefits: "We were able to make quicker decisions. And by moving the priorities from business intelligence reporting to analytics they were also better decisions.”

Business analytics can be loosely described as a fusion of traditional business intelligence software and performance analytics.

Since switching to business analytics software, DeAgostini has also stopped relying on numerous third party programmers to handle J2EE applications and a variety of Oracle systems. Instead DeAgostini uses its own IT support to cover Windows, Microsoft Internet Information Services and Applix’s TM1 Web, and the company employs an in-house business analyst who interprets the analytical data from a strategic business point of view rather than from an IT standpoint.

“You could argue that the technical people don’t like it, because it is taking away jobs in their department,” said Fulgoni. But he was keen to point out that it was making the IT department more efficient: “As long as IT is happening, I don’t care who owns it - the more we can give away, the better.”

The publisher mainly uses the software in its finance department, but is considering its use in marketing and sales too.

Fulgoni said he was impressed that Applix was able to quickly demonstrate how the software would work in DeAgostini’s offices: “In one day they did a mock up of the solution and created a prototype. They let us try it for two months. Within a few weeks the finance and technical guys were happy with it and we decided to use it.”

DeAgostini had considered using a Hyperion or SAP product but said that while Applix “was not especially cheap”, it was cheaper than many competitors’ products and the company saw it as a simpler product to use. Surveys in recent months have attempted to demonstrate that a number of users of more traditional business intelligence software are unable to deal with its complexities or obtain the results they desired.

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