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Oracle's business intelligence unit scores a win at the polls, signs Gallup

The Gallup Organization has chosen Oracle's Business Intelligence Suite Enterprise Edition to let clients analyze employee and customer surveys.

Oracle just surged higher in the polls thanks to a big name business intelligence (BI) customer win.

The Gallup Organization, best known for its presidential and other nationwide polls, has signed on to let its consulting clients use Oracle's Business Intelligence Suite Enterprise Edition (BIEE) to analyze employee and customer surveys over the Internet.

In addition to its public opinion polls, Gallup conducts internal employee and external customer surveys for its consulting clients to help them gauge worker satisfaction and customer engagement. Gallup might survey a retailer's customers, for example, to determine their level of identification with a certain product. The retailer could use the resulting data to better target future marketing campaigns.

Poll and survey data, which is hosted and cleansed by Gallup, was until recently analyzed by an internally developed Gallup application, then presented to clients in static PDF files, according to Jim Collison, Oracle product manager at Gallup. Clients that wanted to compare reports had to do so manually, often by comparing printed reports side-by-side.

Oracle's self-service drilldown dashboards and interactive charts and graphs, which Gallup clients can access over the Web, will make it easier to dig deeper into poll results, Collison said.

The Washington, D.C.-based firm's first Oracle BI customer, a large government agency with more than 50 users, went live in late September, according to Collison. He declined to name the customer but said that Gallup hopes to transition more customers to Oracle BIEE by year's end, and all customers by the end of 2010.

Access to reports and dashboards can be restricted based on employee or department, Collison said, and Gallup hopes to roll out more sophisticated analysis capabilities, like spatial analysis, sometime in the future.

"Today, most of the functionality built in is based on drilldowns, so the data is aggregated at its highest level, and they can drill into it to get more and more detail," Collison said. "We have not necessarily released the analytics tool that allows them to slice-and-dice data yet. We're just not that far along in the maturity cycle." Eventually, Gallup clients might be able to compare customer subsets based on region or state, for example.

Oracle charges Gallup using a processor licensing model – Gallup can add as many BIEE clients to a single processor as it can support and buy additional processing power from Oracle as needed. Gallup in turn plans to charge its clients for the upgrade to BIEE, but they have the option to continue receiving just static PDF reports. Collison wouldn't say what Gallup is charging clients who opt for BIEE.

Since February, Gallup executives have also been using Oracle's BIEE suite internally to analyze financial and sales data collected in its ERP system, Oracle's E-Business Suite.

Gallup evaluated several BI software packages, Collison said, but decided to go with Oracle BIEE, at least partly because Gallup's IT infrastructure was already heavily reliant on Oracle technology. For example, poll results were already being aggregated in Oracle data warehouses for analysis.

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Gallup has also been using Oracle accounting and financial software for around 10 years, and the organization recently deployed Oracle CRM technology, he said.

"One of the big deciding factors was integration points between products," Collison said. "[Oracle's BI suite] already had pre-built integration with all their other products, so getting up to speed with their BI was much quicker for us than if we tried to make those integrations work with outside products."

As part of the implementation process, Gallup had to devise a way to pass user security credentials from its custom security module through to Oracle BIEE for a seamless user experience. Collison tapped Oracle consultants for that job, but ultimately outside help was needed.

"We got some help from Oracle consulting," he said. "They got us to maybe 60% of the [security credentials] solution." Gallup hired San Francisco-based consulting firm Optimum Solutions "to help us put all those pieces together to actually make that work."

Collison said Gallup also plans to deploy Oracle project and resource management software sometime next year and is currently evaluating Oracle's Hyperion-based performance management software. He did not say when a decision to deploy it would be made.

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