Solutions

Speaking of the Weather

AccuWeather, Inc.

Don't know why there's no sun up in the sky? Then you're not paying attention, accurate, localized weather forecasts from AccuWeather, Inc. are within everyone's reach, on the air, in print or online. But with weather information so easy to access, it's easy to overlook the fact that the science, and business, of forecasting weather demands efficient, flexible information management. That's why AccuWeather manages vital data with the help of FileMaker Pro, the award–winning database software from FileMaker Inc.

Overview

  • "Without FileMaker, we would just be imagining how we would do it all in real time. With FileMaker, it happens 24/7." — Elliot Abrams, Senior Vice President/Chief Forecaster, AccuWeather Inc.

Industry

  • Entertainment
  • Medium–Large Business
  • Telecommunications
  • Creative Services

There are dozens of other FileMaker databases that we use for in–house forecast production, maintenance of customer lists and service instructions, and so forth. The forecasting department uses FileMaker Pro and Server as its primary database engine for all of its radio broadcasting services and many of its other forecasting activities.

— Elliot Abrams, Senior Vice President/Chief Forecaster, AccuWeather Inc.

Business Challenge

AccuWeather Inc. is the world's leading commercial weather service, providing weather information in print, to radio and television stations, and through AccuWeather.com. AccuWeather prides itself on tailoring its service to customer needs. "For example, our website, AccuWeather.com, (http://www.accuweather.com) uses a tiered approach to meet the weather needs of all users," explains Senior Vice President and Chief Forecaster Elliot Abrams. "There is an extensive free site, with thousands of satellite, radar and other weather graphics and text products. A premium site is designed for those who prefer a complete range of weather information free of advertising. Professional AccuWeather.com has the full suite of data, graphics and computer model output from domestic and international sources. A professional meteorologist can use AccuWeather.com Professional to meet virtually every data and forecast needed in daily operations."

Such customized service has been a key component of AccuWeather's success. "Dr. Joel N. Myers, the company's visionary founder and CEO, recognized how many human activities are influenced by weather in specifically predictable ways," says Elliot. "For many activities, weather is so critical that users are willing to pay for accurate, reliable information — information that goes beyond the frequently non–targeted fare offered by government agencies such as the National Weather Service. AccuWeather's sales team is active worldwide, and more than 16,000 paying customers use our services."

Successful Solution

The need to efficiently provide specialized forecasts to such a volume and variety of customers was behind the choice of FileMaker Pro, which became a key component in AccuWeather's data management system more than a decade ago. "We needed a database that could enable many forecasters to leverage our forecast creation activities to enable the same information to be applied for the individual needs of customers," Elliot explains. "For example, hourly temperature forecasts for a highway department could be used as the first input for hourly temperature predictions at a nearby ski area. We needed a tool that would enable forecasters to see what forecasts were in place already, and then adjust, revise and tailor them to new, different uses, all in one place. We needed all that without the need to invest in costly software-dedicated training. In short, we needed a high mountain of capability but with a gentle slope to the learning curve summit."

Without FileMaker, we would just be imagining how we would do it all in real time. With FileMaker, it happens 24/7.

— Elliot Abrams, Senior Vice President/Chief Forecaster, AccuWeather Inc.

Customer Benefits

As a Mac shop, AccuWeather found FileMaker Pro a perfect fit, and Elliot characterizes the software's Windows compatibility as "icing on the cake." But even more important is FileMaker Pro's ability to consolidate challenging tasks into a single efficient workflow. "Picture this: A hurricane is approaching the Southeast Coast," Elliot projects. "Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes rake the Plains. Dense fog is threatening to cause chain reaction collisions on the Grapevine in Southern California while causing flight delays in the Northeast. Now, picture a team of meteorologists at workstations and in individual audio booths, all with a need to collaborate, prepare and finalize forecasts, and then get them out to radio stations on time for both routine and emergency broadcasts. Imagine the need for some of the forecasts to be faxed and some to be placed automatically on customer web sites. Without FileMaker, we would just be imagining how we would do it all in real time. With FileMaker, it happens 24/7."

AccuWeather's FileMaker Pro radio database alone consists of more than 22,000 records, and that's just one of many databases in use around the company. "There are dozens of other FileMaker databases that we use for in-house forecast production, maintenance of customer lists and service instructions, and so forth," Elliot continues. "The forecasting department uses FileMaker Pro and Server as its primary database engine for all of its radio broadcasting services and many of its other forecasting activities."

No matter what the weather, FileMaker Pro fits AccuWeather's challenging applications. Small wonder that Elliot's forecast for future database use is concise and to the point: "We plan to keep growing with FileMaker."

For FileMaker:

Kevin Mallon
Public Relations Manager
FileMaker Inc.
408-987-7227
kevin_mallon@filemaker.com
http://www.filemaker.com

For AccuWeather Inc.:

Elliot Abrams
Senior Vice President/Chief Forecaster
AccuWeather Inc.
814-237-5803
abrams@accuweather.com
http://www.accuweather.com

For IT Solutions Consulting, Inc.:

Eric S. Markowitz
Consultant
IT Solutions Consulting, Inc.
215-886-7166x13
215-886-7176
ericm@itsolutions–inc.com
http://www.itsolutions–inc.com