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CASE STUDY - Using Technology to Support a Mobile Workforce

By Len Nicolas, CIO, Nyg�rd International

Nygard International is a leading fashion company that designs and markets a wide range of women's fashion apparel and accessories. This multimillion dollar fashion business, headquartered in Winnipeg, Canada, sells directly to customers through major retailers and its own retail operation and e-commerce site. It has more than 2,600 employees internationally, with sales offices located in New York, Toronto, and Montreal.

The entire Nygard culture is dedicated to efficiency through technology. According to founder and CEO Peter Nygard, "handling paper is expensive and time consuming, especially when the use of electronic commerce is so much more transparent and immediate."

Nygard supplies apparel to a broad range of retail clientele, including Dillard's, Sears Canada, and HBC. Millions of dollars worth of orders are placed daily and must be shipped on time. With Nygard's ever-expanding use of information technology, tracking product performance across store locations and its reseller channel is, of course, an absolute necessity in enabling greater efficiency at an organization that runs around the clock.

Selecting MicroStrategy Mobile

Nygard has been relying on MicroStrategy since 2000 for all of its business intelligence initiatives. When the company decided to build out its business intelligence platform to support a mobile workforce, selecting MicroStrategy Mobile was a clear-cut decision. Nygard wanted to empower associates in the field by providing the insight and information on their BlackBerry devices so they could make the right operational decisions wherever they were. This would free them from having to sit at a desk in front of a 17-inch LCD screen attached to a desktop PC.

The application delivers on what Peter Nygard himself believes: that all desktop applications need to extend to a mobile world. With MicroStrategy Mobile delivering the right information to BlackBerry users in stores and to associates on the road, selling has never been easier.

Building the Solution

Nygard started its own mobile application in September 2006 by building a prototype of its retail fashion intelligence application. This mobile product lookup application was built in about eight hours and demonstrated the vision of what the company wanted. After showing it to MicroStrategy executives, Nygard product teams started exchanging ideas and lessons learned. MicroStrategy was helpful in guiding the teams through their development process, and business users, in turn, provided valuable feedback and drove enhancement changes to help MicroStrategy improve their product.

Once MicroStrategy Mobile was released in September 2007, the implementation was simple. Nygard already was sending many reports via MicroStrategy Narrowcast Server as high-level summaries in e-mails, with additional Excel workbook attachments that included supporting data. The challenge with these e-mail reports was that users were tethered to their computers, having to wait for reports to become available and then print select reports, before heading out to the field.

Ease of use and one-click access to real-time information headed the list of what the company's mobile users wanted. MicroStrategy Mobile delivered on these requirements. It also replicated and delivered to Nygard's BlackBerry devices the same reports that users had been receiving via e-mail. The reports retained a consistent look and feel—for example, consistent headings and standards for KPI abbreviations, the same colors that define what users see, and the same special fonts to highlight totals and subtotals.

Immediate ROI

Fortunately, the migration from the e-mail-based system to MicroStrategy Mobile was fast and seamless because Nygard did not need to change any reports. The ROI was immediate; since the reports were always available, the company gained productive time. No more waiting!

MicroStrategy Mobile was able to bridge the gap and reach Nygard's mobile workforce. Today, the company's 140 BlackBerry users have a wide range of interactivity—just as they would at their desks—and are asking for more reports. Nygard's business needs have been met, and the company is thrilled with this remarkable product and its success across its user community.

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