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Scouts Canada Rolls Out Databeacon Analysis Tools to 160,000 Members

  Product Review published in DM Review Magazine
May 2003 Issue
  By Tom Obright
Databeacon Inc.
Review of: Databeacon from Databeacon Inc.

CATEGORY: Analytic Applications and Performance Management

REVIEWER: Tom Obright, director of information management for Scouts Canada.

BACKGROUND: Scouts Canada is a youth-serving organization with a mission to contribute to the education of young people through a value system based on the Scout Promise and Law, to help build a better world where people are self-fulfilled as individuals and play a constructive role in society. There are more than 162,000 youth and adult members of Scouts Canada.

PLATFORMS: Microsoft Windows 2000 with IIS 5.

PROBLEM SOLVED: In an effort to serve our members better and more cost-effectively, Scouts Canada is moving to central administration of our organization, including membership management. As part of this effort, 27 local membership databases were replaced with a Siebel 6.23 mid-market edition CRM system, with access for our councils and members through a Web interface. The challenge we faced was how to provide our local councils and members with information similar to what they received when membership information was recorded and managed locally. While we could provide reports through Siebel's reporting tools, providing reporting on a customized basis was not feasible. We were impressed with Databeacon's ability to produce multidimensional statistical reports, as well as extract member data as an Excel spreadsheet. This enabled us to dramatically reduce our report creation time and provide a self-serve solution for our members.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: We are using the product in two ways. For our local groups and their service teams, we are using Databeacon integrated into the Siebel application to produce statistical reports and data extracts on the fly. Because our privacy policy limits access to membership information to only those that have a demonstrated need for that information, integrating into the Siebel application and creating reports on the fly gives us the ability to pass parameters limiting the amount of information the report contains. For our council offices, we are prebuilding the Databeacon summaries overnight and offering them through a Council Resource Web site. The reports are the same; however, by prebuilding we are able to offer faster download times during peak usage periods and utilize a slow time to produce these large reports. In the future, we will be utilizing the Databeacon API interface to build the reports directly into Web pages for greater control and access for those who are uncomfortable with even the easy-to-use standard Databeacon interface.

STRENGTHS: Databeacon bridges the gap between our centralized database and our users. We are able to offer a self-service solution to our members to create a variety of statistical reports based on the categories we include with each Databeacon cube, as well as extract specific information to their local computer for further formatting and customization. What makes the product different is the surgical precision by which we can extract the information. This eliminates the need to extract everything and then sort through the details locally to find the desired information.

WEAKNESSES: Databeacon is a feature-rich product. One of the features we have made use of is setting up predefined views of the data by selecting the categories the summary is based on, and presetting filters and sorts. This makes the interface much more user friendly. Unfortunately, if we make a change to the profile for the cube, these predefined views no longer function correctly and must be rebuilt.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We needed a solution that was able to integrate with our Siebel application and was Web-based and browser independent. It also had to be easy enough for people with limited data analysis experience to learn quickly and offer a variety of ways to present the information to make it as user-friendly as possible.

DELIVERABLES: We are currently providing the ability to analyze and extract data in four broad categories: membership information, registration information, group and section information, and honors and awards information. When members request a Databeacon summary, they are presented with a predefined view; but they can use the drag-and-drop interface to examine trends and breakdowns in ways they had previously never been able to do. This, combined with the ability to extract data to their local computers for mailing lists and form letters, brings us closer to having an "enter it once, use it everywhere" system.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Databeacon support has been consistently good, both in pre-sales and after implementation. The support team has been very prompt in dealing with our issues in a very helpful and courteous manner.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is well-written and organized. There are manuals for users, administrators and developers, and all seem to be very well written for their respective audiences.


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

Tom Obright, director of information management for Scouts Canada.

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