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IBM i > CASE STUDIES > MISCELLANEOUS

Battle-Tested

Fashion school proves fertile training ground for the Smart i

Fashion school proves fertile training ground for the Smart i
Photo courtesy of Dennis Fletcher

Q: Of course, you probably wouldn’t have undertaken this effort if it didn’t somehow fit into your business plan, right?
A: Yes, you’re correct. Our decision was driven by business need and we were very specific regarding what we put into the initial phase. We chose 21 existing reports that we wanted transitioned over to the new system. We also thought that the business needs for the college had grown so much that our data architecture probably wasn’t going to take us into the next five or 10 years. Systech, as a very knowledgeable BI vendor, was great at working with my team on analyzing and setting the data architecture that we need to convert, for both now and in the future.

Q: Do you think your organization, as you were looking at your needs and at this tool coming together, formed the direction Smart i eventually went?
A: Absolutely. It’s very much like my work on the COMMON Americas Advisory Council (CAAC), where we work directly with IBM and with the goal, as members, to influence the direction of an IBM product. That’s what we did both on the IP telephony project a few years ago and with Smart i. The vendors on both projects were very receptive. They wanted the customer feedback. They wanted to know how their ideas worked in a real-world situation, not in a lab. If any glitches came up, we worked together to make sure it was rectified.
A term has come out, “prosumer,” where the end users are actually part of the development process. As a consumer, you’re helping influence the direction and the results of a product. I think that’s what we’ve done in these two scenarios. We chose a solution that was right for the business, we leveraged the fact that we can influence the direction, we’re willing to put up with the fact that it’s not going to be immediately perfect and that we’re going to work with the team to make it work, not just for us as a company, but also for the greater IBM i community. We’re just giving back a little.

Q: How’s Smart i working out for you?
A: Well, we’re just finishing up going live. Lora Wright, who’s my director of data management, is a very precise person and very protective of FIDM data. She’s very analytical and wants everything to be perfect. She was absolutely thrilled when I came to her with this solution, because she knows the i and she had worked with Query/400 in the past. DB2 Web Query was just an extension of that.
Then we took Trevor Tan, a BI developer who’d never worked on the i, and switched him over. He really likes the potential of what he sees and believes the development time is going to be much shorter. Systech worked with us to do a knowledge transfer and we’re going to be developing our BI reports in the future on our own, unless we come up with some really complicated idea where we need to call on Systech for help.

Jim Utsler, IBM Systems Magazine senior writer, has been covering the technology field for more than a decade. Jim can be reached at jjutsler@provide.net.



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