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Board M.I.T and Natuzzi: Comfortable Decision Making Worldwide

  Product Review published in DM Review Magazine
March 2003 Issue
  By G. Nicola Lassandro
Review of: BOARD Management Intelligence Toolkit (M.I.T.) from Orenburg USA


REVIEWER: G. Nicola Lassandro, CIO of Natuzzi Group.

BACKGROUND: The Natuzzi Group started in Taranto, Italy, in 1959, when Pasquale Natuzzi, now CEO and designer, opened a small workshop producing armchairs and sofas for the local market. Today, the Natuzzi Group is the global leader in leather upholstered sofas and Italy's largest furniture manufacturer. The Group distributes its products in 123 different markets on five continents.

PLATFORMS: One 4-processor Windows 2000 Advanced Server in a SAN environment and one bi-processor Windows 2000 Advanced Server currently serve a population of 25 LAN and 250 Web users.

PROBLEM SOLVED: The goal of the Management Intelligence project was the creation of a worldwide intelligence environment, organized in various models, Web-integrated within the Natuzzi Knowledge Management System. The following five models are currently available. The Retail Information System gives a detailed view of the sell-out (both sales and distribution) to the end consumer based on point-of-sale (POS) numbers. End customers are classified in clusters whose behavior is analyzed and monitored. The Wholesale Analysis delivers analysis of the Natuzzi Group's business performance by measuring "sell-in." The Credit Management model is the combination of operational support for managing commercial credit and strategic management, enabling credit cost analysis and what-if simulations. The focus of the Claims Management model is on product quality - before and after sale - and on the post-sale activity's cost and performance. The Purchase Monitor model monitors the performance of the purchase process as an essential leverage for company profitability in a model that integrates the most relevant variables.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Having successfully provided access to timely and accurate customer information over the Web in a distributed environment, we now plan to also make our sophisticated analytic applications available to remote users. The latest version of Board will allow our remote users to access important analysis and simulation models from anywhere in the world with simply a TCP/IP connection (even over a dial- up).

STRENGTHS: The powerful and integrated OLAP engine within Board M.I.T. allows us to accommodate and manage our large volumes of data. It goes well beyond what we have seen in traditional reporting suites. In addition, we have reduced our "time-to-benefit" and simplified our application development processes due to the product's unique, programming-free toolkit design. Board M.I.T. provides, in a single product, all of the functionality needed to solve a wide variety of business issues - from reporting to planning and simulation - and to serve our population of users which is scattered across many geographies.

WEAKNESSES: The full Windows client, which we use for our more advanced analytic applications, works only in a LAN environment. Working with the browser, it is possible to export a report to Excel through an FTP - but our secure environment allows only HTTP. As we understand, however, both of these issues have been solved with the new version, Board 4.7.

SELECTION CRITERIA: The Natuzzi Group is not a stranger to BI tools and previously tried to manage our large volume of data with one of the top BI software packages available on the market. After struggling, unsuccessfully, to get the project going, we decided to test Board M.I.T. by Orenburg. In a proof-of-concept that lasted just a few days, it was proved to us that Board M.I.T. could really deliver on our performance requirements and need for integration within our current environment. The fact that we could use Board M.I.T. to integrate with and complement our ERP system data was a major plus.

DELIVERABLES: Board M.I.T. has really delivered on our needs. Using their toolkit approach, we have developed from scratch five different applications that provide more than 300 analysis and several what-if models.

VENDOR SUPPORT: With a history of 10 years in the Italian market and offices in the U.S., U.K. and Germany, we felt good about choosing a company with such a global reach. Orenburg has more than 110 highly specialized partners in key areas and cities/countries across the world. We chose SDG consulting, based on their experience and their ability to work effectively with our organization. Orenburg's support in the test and rollout phases of the project complemented the SDG project management team quite well.

DOCUMENTATION: While the product documentation is clear and complete, we extensively documented the applications and the supported processes.


For more information on related topics visit the following related portals...

G. Nicola Lassandro, CIO of Natuzzi Group.

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