System i: The New Choice of a Fashion-Conscious Generation
February 10, 2009 Alex Woodie
The System i might not be widely regarded as fashionable. After all, other business computer platforms look a lot better in a tux than the old black box. But based on the experience of Elie Tahari, the System i is an excellent choice for fashion-conscious clothing designers–especially those that value good decision making and lean supply chains.
Elie Tahari is a designer of upscale clothing that can be found in Sak’s Fifth Avenue. It also operates its own chain of stores in some of the fashion world’s hottest locales, including New York, Miami, Las Vegas, and Milan.
Like many companies in the apparel industry, Elie Tahari relies on the IBM Power Systems (eServer iSeries) platform to run the applications crucial to its business. Several years ago, when the company was looking to implement a business intelligence solution, Elie Tahari weighed the benefits of a Microsoft SQL Server-based solution versus a native BI solution on the System i. The System i won on the basis of features and performance.
Last week, IBM announced that Elie Tahari is now running a sophisticated Cognos BI setup on its System i server. (Actually, IBM said it runs on its eServer iSeries computer, but we think there aren’t many of those left in the wild.) With Cognos crunching DB2/400 data and spitting out recommendations in real time, Elie Tahari is better able to gauge customer demand for its products, and to feed that data back into its factory and warehouse operations.
The new Cognos system replaces a largely manual process that required employees to pull data from different systems and then piece them together to make sense of current trends, market demands, and product availability. Unfortunately, the old process was so lengthy that, by the time manual reports were compiled, a lot of new data had already been generated, making the insight gleaned from the reports obsolete.
Under the new Cognos system, the pertinent pieces of information are automatically updated in the data warehouse every 5 minutes. What’s more, the reports based on the data can be viewed by all of the company’s departments, all over the world.
Sales have already increased 10 percent since implementing the new Cognos system, IBM says. And the company says it has the edge on predicting future demand.
For example, IBM says the retailer can anticipate a high demand for the “yellow halter dress” for the spring season in New York. Based on this prediction, the company has the confidence to get the right amount of dresses, in the right sizes, available in New York stores when the spring shopping season hits.
Nihad Aytaman, director of business applications for Elie Tahari, says the new BI system has helped keep the company at the top of the fashion industry. It’s also helped the retailer in another recently fashionable area: cost savings. “With efficiencies that have been brought into our day-to-day transactions, this system has saved Elie Tahari several millions of dollars annually and has paid for itself many times over,” Aytaman says.