WebFOCUS Saves Millions for nVision's 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 – including freight bill auditing and payment, logistics management, and claims – processes 100 million invoices and manages $5.2 billion in freight liability each year.

nVision’s typical client spends between $20 million to $400 million on shipping per year and initiates more than one million transactions. These companies use the nVision Supply Chain Suite to streamline domestic and international shipping transactions, saving money on nearly every bill they audit. An important part of this suite is the iFocus Supply Chain Analytics module, which includes mapping, graphing, and predefined pre-performance indicators. iFocus enables customers to optimize their supply chains and minimize transportation costs by analyzing invoice data.

With iFocus, nVision created a cohesive, customer-facing self-service analytics application. It includes industry-leading data visualization and location analytics indicators that empower customers to scrutinize their shipping, payment, and logistics operations.

New InfoApps Power Supply-Chain Analytics

Initially, nVision attempted to build dashboards using tools from Actuate and Microsoft. When developers ran into problems, they evaluated alternative tools from Cognos and Information Builders. They determined that Cognos was too complex, expensive, and would not meet their customers’ needs. Information Builders‘ WebFOCUS business intelligence (BI) and analytics platform by contrast, had all the development tools required in a user-friendly, self- service environment.

Information Builders developed a proof of concept that showcased a customer-facing analytics application with several reusable WebFOCUS InfoAppsTM, some of which incorporate mapping functionality from Information Builders technology partner, Esri. According to Luther Brown, chief executive officer at nVision Global, they had been unable to achieve this functionality with other solutions.

“We wanted to make clients self-sufficient by adding more advanced analytical functionality, better drill-down capabilities, and a more elegant user experience,” says Brown. “We already had processing metrics and report cards that allow customers to monitor shipping activity. But they were hungry for more visibility into their data.”

A Focus on Cost Savings

InfoAppsTM provide a convenient interface through which users can analyze and interact with the data. At nVision, InfoApps empower shippers to explore data via charts, graphs, and other interactive content, giving them instant insight into complex data sets. Brown and his team identified dozens of key performance indicators (KPIs) that they knew would appeal to their customer base. They used these KPIs as the basis of the InfoApps.

nVision Supply Chain Suite now helps hundreds of customers manage logistics for the 10,000 global carriers that partner with nVision. As nVision audits each freight invoice, it extracts hundreds of data points. The company combines the data in unique ways to create operational intelligence. The results are loaded into a data warehouse, which also contains data from various shipment, cost, and routing systems. nVision maintains the data and provides its analytical tools via a software-as-a-service (SaaS) environment. Users only need a web browser to manipulate the data to suit their individual needs.

The 17 initial pre-performance indicators created by the initial development team remain the backbone of the iFocus application. Today, however, there are more than 100 pre-performance indicators deployed as reusable WebFOCUS InfoApps, and nVision is adding more all the time.

nVision captures 120 standard data elements from each freight invoice. iFocus allows shippers to access and analyze their transportation data as they see fit. It includes global reporting, mapping, graphing, benchmarking, modeling, and network optimization to help them streamline their supply chains. GIS location analytics allow clients to track shipments in transit across all domestic and international locations, and then display the data through interactive graphs, gauges, and maps.

“Customers love location analytics because they can map their lanes from Tokyo to Rotterdam or Tokyo to New York or wherever,” Brown explains. “They can see how much activity was in a lane, how many shipments, how much money was involved, how much weight was involved, and so forth.”

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

Analytics Drive Continued Customer Savings

nVision continues to use WebFOCUS to add new capabilities, and create new InfoAppsTM in the form of dynamic operational queries for internal users. Current efforts are underway to add customizable tabs, dashboards, and landing pages to meet the needs of different types of users in different operational domains. For example, a finance officer could create a custom page with a dozen financial KPIs. A logistics or business unit operational manager might create a page with departmental KPIs.

nVision is also leveraging many years’ worth of aggregate data to offer benchmarking services. This feature will allow clients to compare their shipping operations to the shipping operations of other companies, so they can see how they rank against firms of a similar size, industry focus, and location. “That’s the advantage of being able to access data from hundreds of customers,” Brown notes, “but you can’t do things like that without having an analytical tool to present the data.”

Before nVision had WebFOCUS, Brown recalls a benchmarking exercise in which developers had to write more than 300 queries to extract a precise subset of data from the data warehouse. Now they can use an InfoAppTM to instantly get the data and present the visuals. “It’s way easier and it has greater impact,” he says.

On Track for Sustained Productivity

WebFOCUS helps differentiate nVision by providing the most advanced analytics capabilities in this industry. iFocus 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 Keith Snavely, senior vice president of global sales and marketing at nVision Global.

According to Snavely, iFOCUS saves customers an average of two percent of their annual transportation budget, on top of the five to seven percent that nVision saves them through its traditional auditing services. Brown agrees with this ROI assessment. “There is a measurable value to having clean, harmonized data,” he explains. “Our customers can generally save anywhere from three to ten percent, all told. When you’re talking about $20 million a year and up in shipping costs, those are pretty big numbers.”

In an industry where volume drives pricing, having accurate information about shipping activity helps clients present better proposals, tenders, and RFQs. Better information also leads to better evaluations, which ultimately gets them better contracts. It’s no wonder that 95 percent of nVision’s new customers use these advanced analytic capabilities. “It’s one of the top reasons why clients select us,” Brown concludes.

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

What Are InfoApps?

InfoAppsTM deliver highly interactive analytics content, such as data visualizations, charts, graphs, and reports, to users through an easy “app store-like” experience. Instead of learning complex tools and worrying about data preparation, users can tap into InfoApps to serve themselves and quickly get answers and insights from relevant data, right when they need it. InfoApps make it easy for non-technical, mainstream users to get and analyze information on both web browsers and mobile devices