As an Information Builders (IBI) advisory council member, Air Canada’s Chantal Berthiaume said when she saw a demo of the company’s recently released Active Reports last fall, she knew it was something that would help her users, and immediately signed up the airline as a beta user.
As the manager of marketing intelligence with Air Canada, Berthiaume said when she joined Air Canada in 1999 there was no BI capability at all. Seeing promise in the technology, a basic ASP portal was built, but she said it wasn’t something users were clamouring for at the time.
“It was just a new technology we thought would be useful,” she said, but when users began to use the tools they were hooked. “We were a victim of our own success. People started asking for things we couldn’t code.”
That whetted appetite was sated in 2002 with IBI’s WebFocus platform, and in 2005 over 15,000 scheduled reports were executed. For 2006, Berthiaume said the goal is to expand the portal into other areas.
A key under-serviced area is Air Canada’s team of international sales staff, scattered at locations around the globe. Berthiaume said this is a group that has long been underserved. Consistent quality access to the Internet has also been a challenge in serving these remote users.
“Their current sales reports are pathetic, there’s no information,” said Berthiaume. “I have no idea how they make decisions.”
That’s where Active Reports come in. The sales staff will receive monthly reports via e-mail, and will be able to manipulate and analyze the data through a Web browser without having to connect back to Air Canada’s servers.
After having been ignored for so long, Berthiaume said the international sales team is so excited to finally be getting some attention, adding that her real challenge hasn’t been of a technical nature, but rather to manage their expectations.
“Currently they have nothing, and of course they want everything,” said Berthiaume. “I think the biggest problem…was to find a design that would give them what they want and wouldn’t take me forever to build.”
Berthiaume said she has found that Internet Explorer is not able to handle the number of records that a typical Air Canada report will contain, resulting in a considerable lag her users would find frustrating and unacceptable.
Firefox performs far better, and she said she’ll be lobbying the airline’s IT department to include the browser in their standard install image. “We really recommend Firefox,” said Berthiaume.