Five companies with standout information management implementations have been chosen by a group of information experts.

This award was created to recognize solutions that are groundbreaking and provide quantifiable business value. Innovation is partly about adapting to changing environments, and these solutions demonstrated the ability to respond to dynamic business goals or introduce a new approach or idea to a company or an industry. The winning projects involved new technologies or the adaptation of existing technology in a new use or different domain or in combination to create new value. The judges considered innovation to also include "contemporary," as in embracing modern computing strategies like mobility or cloud. Innovation was also established when a solution was used in ways that the implementer never originally intended, yet delivered new benefits.

A judging panel of the Information Management editorial team led by Editorial Director Jim Ericson chose these submissions for their demonstrated creativity, their establishment of competitive advantage or their positive impact on the bottom line.

Category: BI

Implementation Site: State of Michigan

Provider: Teradata

Money can be hard to come by for government projects these days, particularly in Michigan, which has been slammed harder than most by unemployment and the recent recession.

Steeped in that cost crunch, the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget put out bids for BI solution that updated and extended the state's data warehousing capabilities and came up with a solution that has accounted for $1 million per business day in financial benefits to the state in the form of fraud identification, operational efficiencies, and cost and sanction avoidance. The new architecture called on Teradata to join 474 data sets and 18,000 tables in Michigan's data warehouse environment, which has been in place since the mid-1990s. Even with an 8-terabyte data source, the new solution enables access and answers to questions "not even contemplated" a couple of years ago, says Carol Sherman, data director for the State of Michigan Sherman.

"It certainly [got] people's attention," Sherman said. "There are private companies looking at what Michigan was doing because of how we've been able to share data."

For example, the Department of Health and Human Services can access school and health agency data to place children in emergency need of foster care, even in the middle of the night.

In another use, workload management in Teradata kept health care records reform moving forward after losing 800 case workers to cutbacks.

Ten thousand day-to-day users in state government access reports and analytics, and post information for statewide use at no incremental cost. Sharing widely-accessible data is like compounded interest, Sherman says.

"In the beginning it was kind of tough to get agencies to share data. Everyone kept their information pretty close at hand," she said. "But once they found the value in it and saw that there was no harm in sharing their data, that barrier went down."

Category: Business Process Management

Implementation Site: Farmers Insurance

Provider: Pegasystems

Stuart MacLean, director of claims IT at Farmers Insurance, says Pegasytems' BPM agility came aboard at just the right time.

Farmers, growing through acquisitions such as AIG's US Personal Auto Group and 21st Century Insurance ran into consolidation challenges that called for a unified claims system.

"Customer service at its core had become almost impossible. When hiring someone, we had to train them in five different systems across five disciplines," says MacLean. The solution involved Pegasystems BPM software, in which customer representatives would use a single application to train and complete their claims across multiple legacy systems. MacLean says this took the required training process from six weeks to a single day.

Using the technology, Farmers was able to quickly speed up its first notice of loss system for claims, a high-volume point of contact for customers when claims suddenly ramped. "This gave us a true advantage in incidents of catastrophe," says MacLean. "When we bring in temporary help for emergencies, they need to hit the ground running. Our goal was to make it so anybody could take a first notice of loss."

Based on Pegasystems BPM technology, Farmer's customized system, internally called Hero, triggers the relevant questions, gathers the answers and integrates into the claim system for specific loss types, which engage with the proper process workflows.

"Innovation comes from our internal secret sauce," says MacLean. But in terms of enablement, he adds, "Pega gave us the framework and the ability to transform how we do business via an agnostic front end, which positions us for growth and stability."

Category: Data Integration

Implementation Site: Station Casinos

Provider: Informatica

From the pit boss to sophisticated cameras, casinos have long been innovators in watching over activities on their gaming floors, and Station Casinos' 18 properties in Nevada are no different. While those eyes and lenses kept ceaseless guard of physical assets, Station wasn't able to look at and connect the massive amounts of data produced underneath by customers for a deeper, diverse marketing and sales perspective.

"All of this information was out there, but it was in silos. Our people would come to meetings and have different numbers on the same topic," said Jeffry Martin said, Station Casinos director of BI.

Connecting the new, fuller view of information is an Informatica Platform, which integrates data from customers, gaming and financial metrics, based on a Teradata data warehouse and reporting from Cognos. The Informatica solution pulls information from as many as 500 heterogeneous legacy sources, without developing new data access programs or impacting mission-critical systems at Station.

A data quality aspect of the solution features in-line matching of millions of customer records, identifying and grouping issues to allow customization of records, like linking a sale on a customer's favorite wine with promotions on a particular gaming machine.

The solution opens more doors for real-time promotions while customers are taking in their casinos - say, a text notice of a dinner special at a restaurant they typically dine at - adding a growing layer of marketing possibilities, Martin says.

As a result, for the 9.2 million customer records from its loyalty card program marketing segmentation expanded four-fold to 160. Slot revenues grew by 4 percent from related loyalty promotions gleaned from the new information, while cutting the slot promotions budget by $1 million per month and reducing monthly database marketing by $1 million. Hotel and resort retention increased 14 percent in four months, and new member acquisition grew by 160 percent in the first year.

Category: Performance management

Implementation Site: Salesforce.com

Provider: Coupa

Salesforce took a page out of its own service provider book when it engaged Coupa for a hosted multitenant eprocurement solution to replace manual purchasing processes based on an old ERP module.

Two years into U.S. engagement, Salesforce has put more than $1.3 billion in spending through the system and is nearing completion of a global rollout. Domestically, about $720 million of indirect spend per year goes through Coupa, of which Salesforce was able to save 2.54 percent thanks to spend analytics and purchasing efficiency.

The system is accessible to all employees regardless of role and requires little training. Punchout capability allows direct purchasing from approved supplier catalogs and is seamless to the purchase order process. Paperless receipt management allows mobile users to send snapshots of receipts directly to the system. Requisitions, approvals and drag and drop expense reports connect an e-wallet to users online or via iPhone. Finally, executive dashboards provide updated views of spending, supplier performance, liquidity and savings.

Greg Tennyson, VP of global procurement at Salesforce.com, says the speed to implement was much quicker than an on-premise tool, and unusually, Salesforce introduced Coupa and drove adoption through an opt-in model. "Our philosophy was to implement, build it and they will come. Once we had some business units on the tool we then built out the interfaces, but it was the ease of use that drove the adoption."

In the hosted approach, features are updated every three to four months versus proprietary systems that update every two or three years, Tennyson says. "The innovative cycles are much quicker in a multitenant SaaS solution than on premise or in a private cloud." Those fast cycles also mean more IT dependency on getting releases tested and rolled out as intended. With savings ahead of schedule, the pressure is on to keep those innovations coming.

Category: Other

Implementation Site: Microfinance Information Exchange, Inc.

Provider: Pervasive Software

Researchers, evaluators, and governmental and regulatory agencies look to Microfinance Information Exchange, Inc. (MIX) to make informed investment decisions. That makes timely publication of fresh data a primary business goal of the nonprofit online data provider.

Facing complex data transfer and integration with multiple providers (such as Salesforce and foreign exchange rate feeds) to acquire and publish data to its new website, MIX sought a cost-effective, flexible solution that could be quickly deployed. Pervasive Data Integrator and Pervasive DataCloud addressed their complex data transfer/integration needs.

Prior to Pervasive, data was updated manually in order to have visibility to the process and the data itself. Peter Magnaye, CIO for MIX, says the goal was to move from high-touch to high-tech, meaning less manual intervention to provide the freshest data possible.

With the Pervasive solution, MIX moved from 24-hour batch updates to automated loading as at intervals as short as 30 minutes. Magnaye says the solution not only increased the frequency of data loads but also the complexity of their data integration, allowing the company to check some data parameters before copying and after copying in post-processing checks.

The solution enabled MIX to gather operational or quality metrics around the data as well as measures of completeness, eventually allowing the creation of complex audit rules. Prior to using Pervasive MIX business analysts would have to "manually check, visually inspect, do some random calculations" to see if all the data was accurate and complete, Magnaye says. "Now we are able to automate it and send feedback to our business analysts so that they are in a good position to make a decision as to whether the data is ready for public use or not."