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BT Masters Customer Service with Data Quality and Profiling

  • July 01 2004, 1:00am EDT
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REVIEWER: Nigel Turner, manager of information and knowledge management consultancy for British Telecommunications Group.

BACKGROUND: British Telecommunications Group (BT) is one of Europe's leading providers of telecommunications services. Its principal activities include local, national and international telecommunications services, higher-value broadband and Internet products and services, and IT solutions. BT serves more than 20 million business and residential customers with more than 29 million exchange lines. It also provides network services to other licensed operators.

PLATFORMS: BT uses Trillium Software to better understand its vast customer data assets, manage information quality and build single customer views from data stored in multiple legacy databases. These include IDMS under MVS on Hitachi mainframes, distributed Oracle databases and Ab Initio flat files running under Windows on HP and Sun servers.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Customer information is a vital business asset at BT. We recognize the importance of customer data quality and the need to link multiple records appertaining to the same customer in order to create single views. In the 1990s, we couldn't always trust our customer information. This was impacting business effectiveness and customer goodwill. BT first selected the Trillium Software System (TSS) in 1999 to aid data quality and record linking in a central marketing database sourced from millions of customer records. Since 2001, we have also used what is now Trillium Software Discovery (TSD) for data profiling (previously Avellino Discovery until Harte-Hanks acquired Avellino for Trillium Software early in 2004). Amongst others, we use the solutions to manage the quality of data supporting our Siebel CRM implementation and our huge and mission-critical customer service system (CSS). This contains approximately 28 million customer records from 29 disparate repositories from 11 mainframes.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Trillium Software takes tens of millions of offline customer records from multiple disparate sources to identify issues, cleanse and standardize the data and accurately identify, group and link records that are common to one customer, household or business. We use it to manage real-time data input too. Trillium Software isn't just an application at BT, it's an integral part of BT's IT infrastructure. Trillium Software enables us to build more accurate pictures of our customers so we can better market to them, cross-sell and up-sell while maintaining goodwill. Contact centers are more efficient in identifying a customer and connecting them quickly with the right account manager. Engineers on call-out find accurate customer information is improving efficiency. More accurate data means our investments in Siebel and CSS deliver maximum return on investment.

STRENGTHS: TSD and TSS are highly scalable, very fast, powerful and rich in functionality. TSD provides drill-down capabilities, enabling the user to display a set of rows, an individual row and even individual attributes to quickly investigate data trouble spots. Graphics are excellent too, facilitating communication of data issues. It is a 100-percent accurate data audit tool. TSS incorporates extensive expertise and experience in the data quality process. It can be used straight out of the box. With TSS, you can define data rules for the enterprise, then apply them as standards in every data quality project, a feature some tools lack.

WEAKNESSES: When Avellino and Trillium Software were independent, integration was weak at the application level. This meant that we needed to manually input rules built using Discovery into TSS. This integration is expected soon, making for greater efficiency.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Pre-1999, BT Group used several data quality products at a tactical level. Looking to consolidate and take data quality to an enterprise level, TSD and TSS were selected because of scalability, accuracy, speed and ease of use on complex, multisource, multiformat data. We also found the (then two separate) vendors to be the most experienced and knowledgeable in large-scale data issues.

DELIVERABLES: Trillium Software is delivering improved data quality in the form of accurate single views. TSD profiles data sources so we can understand them better and devise rules. It identifies redundant and duplicate data and missing values and inconsistencies with standards and other issues. It also discovers joins, keys and data rules and generates entity relationship diagrams. We use TSS to apply in-built and TSD-defined rules to resolve issues automatically.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Trillium Software has always offered strong support to help us get the very most from their products. They take a long-term partner approach and also listen and react to our feedback.

DOCUMENTATION: Trillium Software documentation is clear and complete in printed and online formats.

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