Con-way subsidiary Menlo Worldwide Logistics intends to drive double-digit growth of its supply chain services business over the next 3–4 years. It expects business intelligence (BI) to be a main driver of new customer value and growth but has
not been satisfied with the capabilities of its existing IBM Cognos and DB2 software platform. To jump-start its BI effort, Menlo is deploying the Microsoft BI platform, which will help it attract business with improved analytics and new value-added customer
Menlo Worldwide Logistics manages supply chain functions for companies around the world. It provides its customers with the best combinations of shippers, routes, and warehouses for moving goods from point of origin to destination. Its customers include
global brands in the automotive, consumer goods, chemical, and high-tech industries. Its transportation carriers range from local and long-haul truckers to rail, air, and barges.
||The flexible Microsoft BI approach enables our end-user teams to tailor solutions to meet the unique requirements of our customers while taking advantage of a common, consistent, and cost-effective platform.
| Mark Molau
Senior IT Manager for Menlo Worldwide Logistics
Supply chain logistics providers like Menlo are increasingly using business intelligence as a competitive differentiator. The best companies offer their customers services such as shipment tracking and cost-per-mile reports. “We expect BI to be a key differentiator
in solving complex supply chain problems through the use of data and information, ultimately unlocking true value creation by optimizing and transforming our customer supply chains,” says Tony Oliverio, Vice President Supply Chain Services for Menlo Worldwide
Logistics, Con-way Inc.
For years, Menlo based its BI efforts on the IBM Cognos 7 application and DB2 platform, which no longer met customer and internal management needs. To leap ahead of the competition, Menlo wants to use BI more creatively. Doing so will be an important part
of meeting its goal of double-digit growth in the next 3–4 years.
Menlo uses business intelligence to offer existing customers better visibility into costs and access to data in ways that are more convenient and more secure than current methods, which include sending reports via email. In addition, Menlo attracts new business
by customizing logistics solutions to suit each of its customers. Ultimately, Menlo will use BI to transform its offerings beyond transportation routing and warehouse management to include data-driven strategic services, like analysis of a customer’s end-to-end
supply chain to improve service while lowering costs.
To meet these challenges, Menlo sought a flexible BI solution that would facilitate innovative product development.
Menlo decided to jump-start its BI effort by implementing a solution based on Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Enterprise data management software and a Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 collaboration portal. Because Menlo had historically based its BI on the Cognos
7 and DB2 platform, it considered upgrading to Cognos 10. Menlo also considered other vendors such as MicroStrategy but ultimately decided that Microsoft BI was the best fit to meet the specific needs of its roughly 75 customers given Menlo’s cost structures,
business strategies and use of earlier versions of Microsoft products within the organization,
“With Microsoft, our business teams have the flexibility and ability to create solutions to meet various customer needs. The approach of vendors such as Cognos and MicroStrategy require very intensive IT involvement to create those same solutions.” says
Mark Molau, Senior IT Manager for Business Intelligence and Data Warehousing and for Menlo Worldwide Logistics, Con-way Inc.
The solution takes a standardized approach by using SQL Server 2012 Integration Services to collect business data in a data-vault architecture. The approach then becomes flexible: Data can be tailored for each customer with tools like Microsoft Excel 2010
spreadsheet software, Microsoft Access 2010 database software, Microsoft SQL Server PowerPivot for Microsoft Excel, and the Power View feature of SQL Server 2012. Deployment started in late 2011, and about 750 employees will use the BI tools.
“We’re creating an environment where our employees can use Excel, Access, and PowerPivot to create end-user solutions and then publish them for broad use via internal SharePoint sites. That’s our direction for the first half of 2012,” says Molau. “Next,
we will establish SharePoint portals for our customers.”
The solution will help Menlo stand out from the competition and attract customers by offering analytics that are easily understood, more secure, and tailored for their specific needs. "It’s really about being flexible enough to deliver and exceed our customers’
requirements while also being standardized,” says Molau. “This balance helps us to manage our costs to benefit both our customers and our bottom-line performance."
Speeds Analysis and Reporting
In the future, creating complex analysis and reports will be much more efficient. For example, it has taken two Menlo analysts one week of work every month to build a 4-megabyte monthly company financial report in Excel. Now, by using SQL Server 2012 to
structure the data, the same analysis and report can be generated automatically in an hour—40 times faster and with almost no work. In addition, by taking advantage of Power View, Menlo can display data in interactive charts instead of static lists, so it
is easier to understand. Molau says, “In the future, we will be able to see our entire business very quickly, and with powerful graphic depictions to drive meaningful action.”
Improves Data Security
With the new solution, it’s easier to protect sensitive information in reports because SQL Server 2012 interoperates with Active Directory service and SharePoint security models. “In the past, an Excel account book could be sent to anyone, including anyone
outside the company, and that person would have our entire business view—and it could go anywhere,” says Molau. “Now, we can manage access via SharePoint.” He adds, “Using our Active Directory authentication model we, can constrain and control access, which
answers the first question from our VP of finance: ‘Who gets to see this?’”
Offers Customized Solutions
Menlo expects to attract new business by offering companies value-added services solutions customized for their unique needs. "The flexible Microsoft BI approach enables our end-user teams to tailor solutions to meet the unique requirements of our customers
while taking advantage of a common, consistent, and cost-effective platform," Molau says.
It also will help Menlo develop analytical services that customers can use to optimize their supply-chain performance.
Molau says, “We expect to develop new offerings to optimize transportation spend, better manage inventory, and improve the performance of our customer’s end-to-end supply chain. Microsoft SQL Server 2012 makes this goal possible.”
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