Diversified home and business products manufacturer Newell Rubbermaid hopes to double the numbers of its
Asia-based staff using business intelligence tools as part of a software upgrade project.
The company is currently migrating its Asian operations --
including Australia as well as China, Korea and
Japan -- from version 7 onto the new version 8 of Cognos' business intelligence
(BI) platform, which was released late in 2005.
The company's director of corporate information services for
Asia, Phillip Bradwell, said he currently had between 120-150 staff
using BI tools, with some further staff set up to use -- but not actually using -- the software's
so-called data 'cubes'.
"We've got a number of cube users out there who don't use it,"
he told ZDNet Australia. "I'm hoping that we'll build over the
next 12 months or so up to around 300 users."
For Bradwell, the impetus to upgrade to Cognos 8 was about
the ability to support multiple languages from a single
When Newell Rubbermaid had started rolling out Intentia's
Movex ERP system across Asia several years ago, he said, the
company started facing issues with Impromptu, the reporting
system included in Cognos version 7.
"It didn't properly support the double-byte character sets of
Japan, China and places like this," said Bradwell.
"We were first confronted with a solution that said you can
have a different version, a different language set for every
single different country.
"This really wasn't where we wanted to go, we wanted to have a
central system supported by one group."
Cognos replaced Impromptu with new software, ReportNet, back
"So we moved all those countries onto Reportnet as their
ad-hoc report writer, and for [Cognos'] Powerplay we used VMWare
solutions to transform the different languages. So we got onto
ReportNet then," said Bradwell.
Describing this fix as "a bit of an ad-hoc environment",
Bradwell said the next move was to move towards a more integrated
"This is where we got onto the version 8 beta testing, because
this was the first integrated Unicode environment, that allows us
to support from New Zealand through to India," he said.
The ongoing migration is expected to be completed by the
middle of 2006.
"Our last Movex implementation should be complete by April,
and then it's really, we're bolstering the BI team now, to be
able to get onto these more integrated solutions. That's our
project for the first half, is to migrate up onto Cognos version
8," said Bradwell.
Newell Rubbermaid runs Cognos on top of a Microsoft SQL Server
2003 database, with Movex running on an AS/400 platform.
Under the dashboard
Bradwell initially found Cognos 8 to be
slower than its predecessor.
"We found initially in the testing that 8 was slower than 7,"
he said. "But that's fairly normal -- betas tend to be slower
than production and then they work on the speed, once they get
"That was probably the major issue for us, in that you've got
dial-up people, you've got people across the network, therefore
you want a reasonable performance."
However the new version has other advantages.
"In version 7 of PowerPlay, for instance, they have a Windows
version and they have a Web version," said Bradwell.
"Now historically the Windows version has been more powerful.
It has more functionality than the Web."
"That has been a problem for us, people say they don't want
the Web version, even though it's simpler to maintain," he
"They say: 'I'd rather this one so I can develop my own
reports, and I can save them, and it's not as cumbersome as the
"So with version 8, it brings the Web up to where the Windows
was. So that's good for us, it means that we can get a consistent
Bradwell also said he was looking forward to utilising the
increased capability of version 8's dashboard interfaces. The
high-level style of report is often used by upper management.