Orlando Sentinel Communications (OSC)

Orlando Sentinel Communications delivers business trend analysis


Project: "Delivering better data from our data warehouse"

Purpose: To consolidate enterprise data, and to give users the ability to access and analyze data on a timely basis.

Benefits: Ability to more effectively target sales calls; ability to analyze competitive media buying and to customize offerings for potential advertisers.

Platform: IBM RISC 6000 Unix system

Orlando Sentinel Communications (OSC), publisher of the daily newspaper in Orlando, Fla., is a multimedia company that also has business units in the Internet and cable television industries. As competition from electronic media began to put newspaper publishing at risk, OSC executives realized they needed a business information system that would provide a clearer picture of trends, especially advertising revenue, the lifeblood of newspaper publishing.

"This industry is going to completely go away if we don't change," said Chuck Farraj, OSC marketing information manager. He sees sophisticated use of data warehousing with trend analysis, and easy-to-use query and reporting applications as the newspaper industry's best hope for survival in the electronic age.

Farraj said an initial gap analysis identified $2 billion in potential ad revenue that the paper could pursue. With analytical data, the Orlando Sentinel advertising force could work to get advertisers back from competing media and retain the advertisers it already had. Employees also needed business intelligence that would help them target new advertisers.


David Fisher
Drew Bolger
Barbara Lougheed
Kam Lewis
Donna Essick
Deborah Taylor
Marvecia Robinson
Roy Bova
Eduardo Tirado
Bobby Dilio
Mike McDowell
Kim Zimpleman

Supporting Team Members:
Carol Crowther
Dena Carraway
Roger Squire
JoAnn Miller
Ann Farrell
Mary Munster
Jim Jackson

OSC executives also wanted a way to sort through OSC's databases and to provide newspaper advertisers with targeted mailing lists for direct mail campaigns to support display ads. This additional service helps close ad deals for the newspaper — and it is a service that television and radio stations cannot offer because they do not have subscriber lists.

To develop the business intelligence applications OSC needed, Farraj began with the MarketInfo analysis tool developed by Gazette Technologies, a business unit of a Cedar Rapids, Iowa, media company. The development team then added Cognos PowerPlay for queries and Cognos Impromptu for reports to give the marketing and advertising staff the ability to retrieve data and produce reports.

While the skill level of the team was very low in terms of heavy technical experience, most of the members found the tools so easy to work with that they required very little technical support.

Approximately 100 users, from the publisher to the front-line sales and marketing employees, use the Cognos tools to track and analyze customer satisfaction, sales and customer service measures. By implementing Cognos for query and reporting against its data warehouse, users do not need to depend on IT staff to answer ad hoc queries. The business intelligence app has given users the ability to view the data in the data warehouse multidimensionally. Users across the enterprise can spot trends as they occur, enabling proactive decision-making.


MarketInfo, Cognos' Power- Play and Impromptu, Oracle

Another major benefit the advertising staff has seen is in its ability to analyze competitive media buying and to then customize its offerings to potential advertisers based on that data. Ad sales staffers are able to track advertisers' spending in different media outlets such as television, radio or newspaper.

The OSC business intelligence system was initially deployed in client/server mode, but has now been enhanced to provide Web access to the system. The database currently supporting the system is Oracle 7, but this will soon be upgraded to Oracle 8i. Oracle runs on an IBM RS/6000. Two Compaq ProLiant servers support the Web-based system.
— Rich Seeley