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360 Group Scores Big on Wow Factor with Customers Using IBM DB2 OLAP

  • October 01 2002, 1:00am EDT

CATEGORY: Query & Reporting and OLAP

REVIEWER: Don Klabunde, chief technology officer for 360 Group.

BACKGROUND: 360 Group is a full-service direct marketing company. The company's full range of services includes strategic planning, targeted media and list planning and buying, creative and production services, response management, custom database development and management, and analytic services. Clients include Cricket Wireless, Chela Financial, Score! Education Centers, Universal Studios Hollywood, Wells Fargo Bank and Tessco Technologies.

PLATFORMS: 360 group uses IBM eServer iSeries i820, IBM NetFinity hardware with OS/400 V5R1 and Windows 2000 operating systems.

PROBLEM SOLVED: One of our primary offerings to clients is intelligence-based direct marketing solutions. IBM DB2 OLAP (based on Hyperion Essbase technology) has allowed us to help our clients make faster, more effective marketing decisions based on real-time campaign results. There are not existing packaged applications or service offerings that can compare to this product with respect to speed of reporting. With DB2 OLAP, we don't need to create a solution from scratch for each new client and each new campaign. We can leverage 80 percent of the solutions' core model and templates, customizing the remaining 20 percent to our clients' needs. This means it's less costly for us to develop and quicker to roll out ­ benefits that we pass on to our clients.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Marketing campaigns are ultimately more effective in that we're able to test them within a very short window of time prior to a full rollout. We're able to monitor the results every night (versus the usual post- campaign analysis which may take from six to 10 weeks after the program is completed) and adjust as needed. After the client provides the initial batch of customer data and we clean and standardize it, we load it into a Hyperion Essbase cube. The multidimensional analysis provides us with powerful insights into the results. We're able to make campaign recommendations, which often elicit an audible "wow" from clients. One client may execute marketing campaigns to acquire new customers, retain existing ones, win back lost customers or minimize attrition. It's critical to be able to segment the data to identify the best customers and potential customers. This requires testing, rolling out and then tracking marketing campaigns, which the DB2 OLAP product functionality provides.

STRENGTHS: The main strength is our ability to run true ROI-based marketing campaigns that can be tracked and tweaked daily for the best results. The ability to quickly acquire that type of information is unheard of in marketing campaign management and really results in a major "wow" factor with our clients. Most campaigns are not analyzed until after they are over, which doesn't give you the ability to improve results on an ongoing basis. We're able to improve response rates dramatically as a result of these fast and accurate insights.

WEAKNESSES: It took a while to learn the application manager GUI. Written documentation and training materials might have resulted in shorter timeframes for learning new features and getting up to speed on basics. The same comments apply to the Analyzer product.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We threw out a product which is a competitor to IBM DB2 OLAP/Hyperion Essbase because it couldn't perform the analysis we needed. Instead of creating business intelligence, it was creating business confusion. The tool wasn't user friendly and users had to understand the data model to do analytical work. We needed a product that we could implement rapidly and is easy for our own account service managers and clients' end users to use. Additionally, we needed to deliver a cost-effective solution to our clients. More than ever, marketing budgets are being closely scrutinized, branding is less effective, measurable results are required, and targeting is king. We knew that with IBM, we could address these concerns and provide our clients with the market intelligence needed, but not available in house.

DELIVERABLES: Our clients are able to view reports tracking the success of marketing campaigns. Additionally, they are able to analyze data as easily as pointing and clicking.

VENDOR SUPPORT: IBM assisted us with the implementation of the solution. Our goal was to implement the solution within 90 days, and we were able to achieve that goal. We have not had any need for post-implementation support.

DOCUMENTATION: The Analyzer documentation is fine for beginning. Within 30 minutes of showing our clients the application, they are off and running doing their own analysis. However, documentation for more advanced features such as calculations and forms design is lacking.

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