BACKGROUND: Marketing Information & Technology, Inc. (MITI) of Andover, Massachusetts, is an application service provider in the area of prospect relationship management with its ACQUIRE suite of services. MITI integrates open system database technologies, advanced analytic methods and a 226 million record consumer database. The Universal Prospect Data Warehouse (UPDW) is the richest multi-sourced database of consumer information available. Services are offered as a complete prospecting system or à la carte for list rental, data warehousing, data mining, modeling and campaign management.
PLATFORMS: The test software ran on a Windows NT server, but we are currently using Affinium Campaign from Unica Corporation on a Sun Solaris AppServer with four CPUs and 2GB of RAM. Our database servers run both Sybase IQ
and Oracle8i. We have several large database tables in Sybase IQ that are U.S. consumer scale with 150-240 million rows. In Oracle8i we have data marts containing 80 million rows of prospect detail with numerous tables around 100 million rows.
PROBLEM SOLVED: For our customers, we create unique queries across several databases to develop customized marketing campaigns. We did not have a tool fast, flexible and robust enough to efficiently create campaigns. Each query took tremendous staff and computational resources. We chose Unica because of its open systems approach which worked with different data sources in various formats, the tight integration with data mining tools, the templates and reporting tools.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Affinium Campaign, a full-featured tool, handles our diverse databases and complex queries. We find that counts are accurate when we use the select, sample, merge or segment objects. Sampling the ability to produce subsets of the database to accurately predict behavior of the larger group is very important to us. Householding grouping discreet individuals into house-holds based on phone numbers, addresses or other criteria is also important. Affinium Campaign exhibits high performance and scalability in both areas.
STRENGTHS: Affinium Campaign is database savvy. Connecting it was clean. Affinium Campaign users can log in from any workstation to view their work and share resources such as queries, derived fields, session examples and data files. Processes can be linked to run in sequence by using triggers across campaigns and schedules. The GUI uses a flowchart and reports metaphor that is powerful and succinct.
WEAKNESSES: Affinium Campaign did not support the Compaq Alpha UNIX platform which forced us to use a three-tier architecture instead of two tier. Unica is currently working on an Alpha UNIX release. During installation, we discovered that Affinium Campaign required ODBC database connectivity software to connect to Sybase IQ. The vendor has since bundled ODBC UNIX support with the product, making installation and upgrades seamless. Connectivity to our Oracle databases is native. We found Unica to be very responsive to our requests for minor capabilities not part of the core product.
SELECTION CRITERIA: We took a very considered approach to this acquisition since it runs our business. We used specific criteria to measure each vendor. We needed a robust campaign management tool to handle our diverse databases that could be implemented quickly, with the least disruption to ongoing operations, and provide the flexibility and scalability needed for the future. The tools needed to be comparable in speed to an ad hoc SQL query tool.
DELIVERABLES: Affinium Campaign enabled us to implement marketing campaigns for our customers both online and multichannel marketers more quickly, efficiently and profitably. The sampling helped us better target communications and perform powerful queries that save our customers money by reducing waste. Its open architecture, flexibility and scalability ensure that Affinium Campaign will continue to scale as the scope of our marketing campaigns become more complex.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Unica has provided solid technical support. They have demonstrated a will-ingness to work through issues and operate as a partner. During the installation period they addressed every issue raised.
DOCUMENTATION: Documentation was provided in .pdf format with the first installation. It was thorough and complete although a bit dry. As we have used the product, we have created our own example-driven, supplemental documentation to cover our own unique use of the product.
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