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Custom Research Relies on Unica's Model 1 for Data-Based Marketing

Published
  • July 01 1999, 1:00am EDT

BACKGROUND: Custom Research, Inc. (CRI) provides marketing research, customer satisfaction and database analysis services to Fortune 500 companies. A major area of CRI's expertise lies in the identification of attitudinal segments and the integration of survey results with marketing databases. CRI is the only professional services firm to win the Malcolm Baldrige Award for Quality (1996).

PLATFORMS: CRI runs Unica's Model 1 on a Windows 95 PC (also available on Windows 98 and Windows NT). Model 1 is also enabled for client/server (server options: Sun/Solaris, PC/Windows 95, 98 and NT, IBM/AIX, HP-UX, DEC/Windows NT).

PROBLEM SOLVED: The typical problem faced by CRI was to fully analyze, interpret and communicate survey research results; extrapolate the attitudinal data to the full customer/prospect universe; and measure the size of short- and long-term opportunities by segment. Ideally, the goal of a CRI project was to assign dollar opportunity values to segments ­ defined both behaviorally and attitudinally. To solve this problem, the following were required: 1) multiple statistical approaches, as standard regression techniques are often not applicable to properly define segments, and 2) extensive cross-validation to compensate for smaller data set sizes from survey research.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Model 1 is comprised of four modules that help solve data mining problems, including response modeling, cross-selling, customer valuation, segmentation and profiling. Model 1 is performing well in all the areas we need it to: analysis by multiple algorithms, cross-validation, reporting and scoring. The algorithm parameters can be manually set or automated. Also, the modeling and validation can be performed at various levels of extensiveness. The scoring does all transformations and preprocessing on the scored file automatically. Model 1 provides great graphical support for CRI's business objective of helping the client better understand the "drivers" behind their customers' motivations and behaviors.

STRENGTHS: Model 1's underlying strength is that it allows the user to focus on the business problem. Model 1 is a very fast, robust tool with considerably more flexibility than expected in terms of setting modeling parameters. With extremely intuitive and user-friendly wizards for importing data, modeling, reporting and scoring, Model 1 is easy to use. The data importing is especially easy to use and manage. In the modeling wizard, it is easy to add or remove variables and to treat them as simply categories or scalar quantities. Changes can be made and tested with minimum effort at any point in the model development process. For CRI, another important feature is the cross-validation capability, enabling solid analysis on small sample data sets. Model 1's scoring wizard does all the data transformations and preprocessing automatically, enabling CRI to score a full customer database accurately and quickly. This helps CRI provide the full added value to a client: a scored and marketing-actionable, customer database.

WEAKNESSES: While the graphics themselves exceeded expectations and are all that is needed for model development, they cannot be directly exported into Microsoft Excel for client documentation and presentation. Currently, the report data must be exported and an Excel chart created from the data. Also, labeling in the standard reports cannot be tailored and must be done after the report is exported in Excel.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Other customers of Model 1 praised it highly. Model 1 meets our modeling requirements for extensive cross-validation. Lastly, Model 1 is priced appropriately.

DELIVERABLES: The typical CRI deliverable includes a full report and presentation, a scored customer database and a demonstration to clients of the applications and value available from the attitudinal data. We use Model 1's reports (or the exported data from these reports) and scoring capabilities directly. Model 1 is used for the entire modeling process and helps CRI rapidly "learn" about customers' motivations and behaviors ­ which is an important part of the client deliverable.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Unica is very responsive to our requests for help. Turnaround time is excellent, and nuances are explained well and quickly.

DOCUMENTATION: We like the printed manual and find that the on-line help is good. We rarely need the hard copy.

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