2 page Case Study - Posted 1/13/2012
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Postal Company Delivers Self-Service BI and Increases Its Competitiveness and Efficiency
TNT Post Italia needed to enhance and accelerate customers’ and employees’ insight into envelope deliveries. To address this challenge, TNT Post worked with partner SolidQ to deploy a data warehouse and BI solution with the Microsoft platform. By doing so, it became the first Italian postal company to offer clients self-service BI, which has helped TNT Post to boost its competitiveness, efficiency, and agility.Business Needs
Founded in 1998, TNT Post Italia uses the Microsoft platform to process and track more than 2 million envelopes every day. The company also prints and delivers mass mailings such as invoices and account statements for companies and government agencies. To facilitate growth—especially in business-to-business offerings—TNT Post strives to deliver exceptional services.
||With our new BI solution based on the SQL Server Fast Track Data Warehouse, we are bringing technological innovation to the worldwide postal market by delivering a service that no one else is offering.
Software Development Manager
TNT Post Italia
By 2010, rapid expansion had slowed data insight and customer response times. When clients contacted TNT Post with issues such as the delivery status of specific envelopes, IT personnel had to manually query a production system that contained 1 terabyte of information about more than 1 billion customer transactions in a table with about 1 billion rows. Because the system was designed to handle smaller data volumes, extracting the details needed to answer questions could take more than 10 minutes.
Employees in the finance and marketing departments also wanted faster access to information to obtain more meaningful business intelligence (BI). With the previous solution, employees consulted standardized reports and queried the database for insight. People also manually exported reports and entered data into Microsoft Excel spreadsheet software for further analysis. “With so much information, it wasn’t possible for users to easily explore records to see how many envelopes we had sent that day, how many were not deliverable, or how many new orders were placed,” says Eduardo Nolano, Software Development Manager at TNT Post Italia. “It could take days to get the business intelligence that people sought.”
In January 2011, TNT Post decided to implement a new BI solution that could improve insight and facilitate growth. It also wanted to be the first Italian postal company to give clients self-service BI. Solution
TNT Post engaged Microsoft partner SolidQ to help design a new solution. TNT Post had worked successfully with SolidQ on previous IT projects. In addition, Nolano says, “We knew that we wanted to implement a solution from Microsoft because it is a reputable company that offers great business software. Our choice was also based on the quality of people that would work with us to address our challenges.”
TNT Post decided to deploy a BI solution based on the Microsoft SQL Server Fast Track Data Warehouse. It includes reference architectures engineered by Microsoft that speed implementation, minimize costs, and achieve fast performance. After reviewing configuration options, SolidQ engineers deployed a data warehouse that runs on SQL Server 2008 Enterprise data management software, the Windows Server 2008 Enterprise operating system, an HP ProLiant BL460c G7 server computer, and an EMC CLARiiON CX4 model 240 storage area network.
To extract data from the production system and present it to users in dashboards and reports, engineers used Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Integration Services and SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services. To optimize performance and control data growth, they set up the warehouse so that it only contains transaction data from the previous six months. Data is then compressed and partitioned with features in SQL Server 2008. In addition, a portal developed with the Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 gives people global access to the solution.
In October 2011, more than 10,000 users, including customers and employees, began to use the new portal and BI tool.Benefits
By implementing a new BI solution based on the SQL Server Fast Track Data Warehouse, TNT Post has sped efficiency, increased innovation, and boosted agility.Speeds Efficiency and Insight
Rather than engaging IT personnel or spending days analyzing data, employees can now access in-depth BI in just seconds from dashboards or reports saved as Microsoft Excel files. Clients can also access dashboards and reports to gain near-real-time insight into deliveries. “Since we have launched our new BI solution on the SQL Server Fast Track Data Warehouse, we have significantly sped system query times, and there is no longer a lag time between a customer’s request and the answer,” says Andrea Delfini, Marketing Representative at TNT Post Italia. “Employees and customers can get the answers they need from the portal.” Commenting on the solution’s speed, Nolano says, “People can search more than 1 billion database rows in our Fast Track Data Warehouse in less than 10 seconds.”Delivers Unique Self-Service Capability
Today, in just seconds, clients can view data about every one of their envelopes delivered over the past six months. Employees can also access insightful BI about the more than 300 million deliveries made during that time frame. Delfini says, “With our new BI solution based on the SQL Server Fast Track Data Warehouse, we are once again bringing technological innovation to the worldwide postal market by delivering a service that no one else is offering.” Nolano adds, “We were the first to introduce certified mail to Italy four years ago. Now, with the Microsoft BI platform, we are the first Italian postal company to introduce a self-service BI tool, and so we can attract more clients because we offer better and faster insight into deliveries than competitors.”Increases Agility to Facilitate Growth
TNT Post now has the scalable, high-performance infrastructure it needs to launch new services, support more clients, and maintain reliable service despite expansion. For example, because the new warehouse is structured efficiently and uses capabilities such as data compression, it is about the same size as the production database was in 2010—approximately 1 terabyte—and yet it contains information about twice as many transactions (more than 2 billion). “By deploying an innovative self-service solution with the SQL Server Fast Track Data Warehouse, we can be more flexible in meeting our customers’ needs and more consistent in delivering fast performance even with rapid growth,” says Nolano. “As a result, we can better defend our leading position as new competitors enter the market.”This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.