Southern Wine and Spirits Explains
Why They Use DI-Diver
Mike Brockway, Southern Wine and Spirits' (SWS) senior project manager
in charge of Data Warehousing and EIS, talks about how Dimensional
Insight can address issues that are critical to distributors. SWS
is one of the largest distributors of wine and spirits in the country,
with offices in Florida, Pennsylvania, Nevada, South Carolina, Kentucky,
Arizona, California, and Hawaii.
Tough Selection Criteria
"As a very decentralized operation, one of the biggest challenges
SWS faced was being able to pull together timely information from
all of our selling divisions for our Corporate Offices. This executive
information needed to be summarized at a high level with drill down
("slice and dice") granular functionality. We were given
the task of finding a product that could not only deliver timely information
to our executive offices, but could also be used in each of our selling
divisions by sales management to monitor their business. In a company
as geographically dispersed as we are, it took a lot of time and effort
to pull information together, consolidate it, and make it available
on a common reporting platform."
Before we started looking for a solution to meet our needs, we
developed a list of requirements:
1. The product had to be able to handle our volume of data, which
is pretty steep, and it would have to "crunch" it in a relatively
short period of time.
2. The product had to handle all nightly updates and rebuilds within
our nightly processing window. Since we have offices dispersed from
Miami to Hawaii, the time zone differentials yield a rather small
nightly processing window.
3. It had to be easily recoverable.
4. It had to be user-friendly.
5. It had to be supported on Microsoft Windows NT and the IBM AS/400.
6. It had to be portable so executives could use the system via laptops
when they travel.
7. It had to produce graphs such as bar charts and pie charts.
8. It had to support advanced reporting. We were looking for a product
that had robust reporting built into it. It was our intention to eventually
replace legacy system reports with reports generated by this tool.
9. It had to be generic to our business processes so that we could
take this product and use it across many of our business areas. Although
the sales reporting area was our immediate priority, we also wanted
a product that could be used in finance, shipping, personnel, and
10. The product had to be able to offer basic mapping support so we
could display maps of the country, by country, or by state.
11. It had to be able to import data from multiple source formats
12. It had to provide an easy comparison between time periods (e.g.,
this year vs. last year).
13. It had to be easy to drill down and drill across data so that
one could very easily navigate down into the detailed information.
14. It had to be Web enabled. We wanted to be able to serve it to
remote locations as well as to people on the road.
15. The entire solution had to be simple enough from an information
systems perspective to let our selling divisions take ownership of
the local support issues."
early on that the basic design structure that we selected would
be critical to the product's overall success. Given the flexibility
of the system, we could have populated the EIS tool directly from
our host-based systems (AS/400 and DB2), but decided against this
route in favor of an intermediary data warehouse design. The EIS
tool was only one part of our overall solution. We wanted to design
and implement a data warehouse that would contain all of the Company's
We worked as
a joint venture with IBM to design a DB2 data warehouse. The data
warehouse in production today pulls data from all of our sales divisions
every day. We have just under a hundred million records, and it's
growing every day. The data warehouse feeds DI-Diver and is also
available to run ODBC programs against it. We no longer have to
call our sales divisions for special reporting requests. Today,
we get the information ourselves from DI-Diver and/or the data warehouse.
looking at the design for DI-Diver, Dimensional Insight's product.
We had to determine which business areas to focus in. Our immediate
priority was sales reporting and to give our sales management the
information that they needed to run their business. We had to decide
whether it made sense to deliver a centralized or decentralized
EIS platform. As it turns out, the best solution for us at that
time was a combination of both. As an example, our Northern California
office in Union City and our Southern California office in Cerritos
are both running DI-Diver from an AS/400, located in Northern California.
The rest of our divisions are running DI-Diver on local Microsoft
Windows NT servers. Based on our project requirements, DI-Diver
allowed us to offer both solutions."
Fast, Robust, Easy to Use
"As part of our software selection process, we looked at many
offerings (e.g., Dimensional Insight, Pilot Light Ship, Margin Minder,
TM1, Platinum, and Cognos). Each system had its pluses and minuses,
but in our opinion Dimensional Insight out-shined all of them. Dimensional
Insight handled our volume of data faster than any other product we
looked at. We are literally rebuilding three years worth of information
from some of our larger sites overnight, from scratch. The product
is very easy to use. As long as the users have some PC knowledge,
and they know how to click or double-click a mouse, they can easily
use this product. We also find that Dimensional Insight offers a very
attractive price to performance ratio. They have a solid integrated
reporting feature which was key for us. It is webenabled and it is
"The benefits of this system are both quantitative and qualitative.
One of the biggest qualitative benefits of the system is access to
timely, accurate information on demand. Our executives used to get
hard copy reports, sometimes waiting days or weeks, especially if
it was a special request. Now they have that information immediately
available on their desktop. They have the ability to drill down into
the data to find trends and to immediately act upon them. If they
see that sales are off compared to last year, they can immediately
dig deeper into the data to ascertain the exact cause of the problems.
They have access today to information that was never readily available
to them before. Our executives also like to see the data in the format
that they are accustomed to. With DI-Diver they can get the information
at the click of a mouse, lay out a report format, and sort it any
way they choose on demand."
"There's a definite decrease in hard copy paper reports. Now
that they have the information at their fingertips, we don't have
to do a lot of printing on mainframe printers and high speed Xerox
printers. They are now using DI-Diver to sift through the information
they want, printing off one or two key pages, rather then printing
off a hundred page report and looking at the bottom two pages for
what they want. As an example, at our Miami site, we've seen a reduction
in printed pages as a result of DI-Diver. There's also been a direct
saving on personnel resources because executives are able to get their
own information. We are seeing reallocation of staff to other areas
of the business. It's really streamlining our operation."
Common Information Across the Enterprise
"We now have a standard reporting system across the Company with
a pool of knowledgeable support personnel who can help other users
in need. If one of our sites has a problem, and they're not sure how
to do something with the product, they can call one of our other sites
and get their question resolved easily. It's a tremendous benefit
to have this common tool across the Company. In any of our sales offices,
sales management can sit down with a supplier and go over a business
review or analyze the performance of their products. They can bring
up real-time sales data pertaining to that supplier and analyze trends
in that supplier's business. It's had a tremendous positive impact.
In the past, this was accomplished with pre-printed reports that usually
generated a list of questions to resolve after the meeting. Now we
can handle everything on the spot."
Future Roll-Out Plans
with sales reporting but have plans to expand its usage. We are
in the process of testing Web access using Dimensional Insight's
product for mobile salespeople, and also for business to business
solutions. We're also looking at adding warehouse information to
DI-Diver to allow us to look at logistic costs and activity based
costing. We're also working on applications in the general ledger,
and payroll areas."
I'd like to say that SWS is very pleased with the DI-Diver product
and the Dimensional Insight Company. We continually put Dimensional
Insight to the test with lots of requests and in all, they've come
through for us with shining colors."