WebFOCUS Dashboard Saves Millions for nVision Customers

Logistics Provider Cruises With Location Analytics and Data Visualization

Companies worldwide trust nVision Global to audit, process, and pay freight invoices for all modes of transportation, and provide logistics-cost analysis. This leading provider of services for freight bill auditing and payment, logistics management, and claims processes 63 million invoices and manages $3.1 billion in freight liability each year.

nVision’s typical client spends $20 million to $400 million on shipping per year and initiates more than one million transactions. In the past, customers could conduct detailed analyses of the data generated during those transactions, but reporting was limited and required extensive staff support.

With Information Builders’ WebFOCUS business intelligence (BI) and analytics platform, nVision created one cohesive self-service analytics portal. Its iFocus Dashboard includes industry-leading data visualization and location analytics tools that empower customers to scrutinize their shipping, payment, and logistics operations.

A Focus on Cost Savings

The iFocus Dashboard helps customers manage logistics for the 10,000 global carriers that partner with nVision. They can view multiple shipping options and make more economical choices about their logistics operations. nVision maintains the data and provides these analytical tools via a software-as-a-service (SaaS) environment where users can manipulate the data to suit their individual needs.

Thanks to WebFOCUS, Visual Discovery, location analytics, and Active Technology reports – in conjunction with geographic information systems (GIS) technology from ESRI – the new dashboard environment helps companies save millions of dollars each year.

“The information we capture from each transaction increases supply chain visibility and brings verifiable value to our customers’ bottom lines,” says Luther Brown, chief executive officer at nVision Global. “By letting customers access current business intelligence via the web, we deliver greater value by increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of their shipping activities.”

Web-Based Business Intelligence

nVision Global has evolved from a regional freight payment company to one of the fastest growing providers of global freight audit, payment, and logistics services. Hundreds of companies use the nVision Supply Chain Suite to streamline domestic and international logistics transactions, saving money on nearly every bill they audit. In the process, they capture detailed logistics information and make it available for reporting, trend analysis, and carrier negotiations.

Previously, nVision offered query builders and report generators, created with PowerBuilder, so customers could slice and dice this data in a limited way. Two employees worked full time to create, modify, and update customer reports. nVision wanted to take these services to the next level  and make clients self sufficient by adding more analytical functionality, better drill-down capabilities, and a more elegant user experience.

“We capture a wealth of operational business intelligence from each invoice within a single, global data warehouse along with a variety of analytical tools, such as our iFocus Dashboard, allowing our customers to optimize and streamline their overall transportation costs,” notes Keith Snavely, nVision’s senior vice president of Global Sales and Marketing.

Initially, nVision attempted to build dashboards using tools from Actuate and Microsoft. When it ran into problems, the company evaluated tools from Cognos and Information Builders. It determined that Cognos was too complex, expensive, and would not meet customers’ needs. WebFOCUS, by contrast, had all the development tools required in a user-friendly, self-service environment.

Visual KPIs Guide Customers to Savings

Information Builders developed a proof of concept, which showcased a WebFOCUS dashboard incorporating mapping functionality from Information Builders Technology Partner ESRI. The team identified 17 key performance indicators (KPIs) that would most appeal to its customer base. These KPIs are the backbone of the new iFocus Dashboard, while WebFOCUS Visual Discovery adds data visualization capabilities to the maps. According to Brown, they had been unable to achieve this functionality with other BI solutions.

WebFOCUS pulls information from a Microsoft SQL Server data warehouse containing data from various shipment, cost, and routing systems.

“We capture a minimum of 120 standard data elements from each freight invoice,” explains Jennifer Whigham, iFocus dashboard administrator for nVision. “iFocus allows our customers to access and analyze their transportation data as they see fit. Our solution includes global reporting, mapping, graphing, benchmarking, modeling, and network optimization to help them streamline their supply chain.”

The iFocus Dashboard includes graphs, gauges, and maps. Visual Discovery enhances the display of shipping information, and ESRI’s GIS location analytics allow clients to track shipments in transit across all domestic and international locations.

Users can create maps based on criteria such as service level, origin, destination, division, region, and location. They can slice and dice the information in a variety of ways, and drill down to problem areas to instantly see which shipping lanes need attention.

For example, a user can select all shipping lanes on a map to get trend information, or look only at the top-performing lane. They can then view all shipments for that lane within a given time period, including addresses and related bills of lading, then drill down into details like shipment, weight, and distance of travel.

Customers also use these displays to identify cost-reduction strategies. In many cases, they can reduce costs by switching modes, changing service levels, consolidating shipments when multiple deliveries are sent to the same location, or altering their shipping patterns. They can click on hyperlinks to drill down to individual freight bills and run ad hoc reports to check the status of shipments.

On Track for Sustained Productivity

Today, nVision further differentiates itself by providing the most advanced BI and analytics in its industry. The iFocus Dashboard even provides real-time alerts when critical issues or specific business conditions arise. “It’s the ease of use, sophistication, and amount of data we provide that really sets us apart,” says Snavely. “Tools like Visual Discovery add tremendous value to our services.”

On average, these analytical tools save customers an additional two percent of their annual transportation budget, on top of the five to seven percent that nVision saves them through their traditional services. “When you’re talking about $20 million a year and up in shipping costs, those are pretty big numbers,” adds Snavely.

Approximately 300 people access the iFocus Dashboard, including customers and internal users, and that number is on the rise.

“About 95 percent of new customers use the BI capabilities,” he says. “It’s one of the top reasons why clients select us. Visual Discovery is the sizzle in our sales presentations.”

nVision uses WebFOCUS to add new capabilities to the dashboards. They are also creating operational and statistical reports for internal users. Providing greater visibility into key operations is improving customer satisfaction and boosting sales.

“WebFOCUS helps us demonstrate our promise of increased efficiency, on-time delivery, and cost savings,” Snavely says. “As our basic services become increasingly commoditized, helping clients leverage information will continue to differentiate us from the competition. We have built a solid BI and analytics platform with WebFOCUS. The value we add comes from the data we capture and the analytical apps we can provide to our clients.”

WebFOCUS Visual Discovery

WebFOCUS Visual Discovery enhances the WebFOCUS environment by allowing customers to analyze data using advanced visualization functions, including 3D bar and pie charts, histograms, data constellations, and multiscapes. “We provide the entire environment as an online service,” says Jennifer Whigham, iFocus dashboard administrator for nVision. “Customers don’t need software on their end. They simply use a web browser to access the nVision environment and visualize the data however they want.”