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Flu Dashboards Help Manage Drug Orders

The flu vaccine business is hugely turbulent on both the supply and demand sides. When you're a major middleman in that market, a little business intelligence can go a long way toward smoothing out critical product flows.
A lot is at stake for both FFF and its customers, who administer the vaccinations. With the dashboards, Ground says, "I can make an immediate business decision to ramp down bookings, or push bookings over to a different product that will be available sometime in the future, which is a sales effort, essentially. So when the season goes live, we can balance what we've booked for our customers with what's coming in. If we can't meet a booking with a customer, after all, that's the last time we have that customer."

The dashboards also make it easier for Ground to estimate demand, supply and sales for next year's flu season, without first making queries with the IT department. "Now I'm able to use QlikView to go in and look at history, look at the numbers on a granular level, and forecast what I think we can do next year," he says. "It makes me more independent."

The flu dashboards pull their data directly from the company's ERP system, which runs on an IBM AS/400 with an DB2 database. No OLAP cubes or data warehouses are necessary -- which is among QlikTech's chief selling points. Bob Coates, FFF's technology chief, says this was among the reasons he chose the vendor after a pilot run last November. QlikTech was relatively easy to install and implement. It took ten days for the pilot to go live, Coates says. He declined to specify FFF's investment in the system.

In previous jobs, Coates had experience with a different product from BI firm ProClarity. "I had great success with them, and I'll be honest with you: It was my intent to use them again," he says.

But other factors came into play. Most importantly, both QlikTech and Intentia -- the maker of FFF's ERP system -- are based in Sweden. "Many people who work at QlikTech used to work at Intentia," Coates says, "so they have a deep understanding of that product. And that was really the deciding factor for me."

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