REVIEWER: Ken Kauppila, vice president of technology and product engineering for Experian's Automotive Information Services unit.

BACKGROUND: Experian is a $1.5 billion global provider of information solutions for consumer and business credit, direct marketing and automotive information applications. Experian compiles and maintains some of the largest relational databases in the world. The company's Automotive Information Services unit draws on these databases to produce a wide variety of reports for car manufacturers, dealers, finance companies and others requiring automotive-related information.

PLATFORMS: Analysis Online Auto List Processor built by SRC runs on a Windows NT/2000 server with Dual Processor and RAID of three 70GB drives and 512 MHz memory.

PROBLEM SOLVED: In the past, Experian's Automotive Information Services unit required up to 24 business days to produce list counts representing the number of individuals who fit a profile requested by a given customer (for example, all vehicles of a certain make and model owned by households with a specific income in a specific geographic area). The process was slowed by the inability to: automatically merge and purge data from three different proprietary databases containing 500 million vehicle, credit and household records; access highly granular geographic and record-level data such as household income and block groups, carrier routes or ZIP codes from those data marts; or conduct necessary queries without intervention from multiple project managers. Experian needed a point-and-click solution that would speed the turnaround time and thus provide a strong competitive advantage over other data providers.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Analysis Online Auto List Processor is a custom intranet-based solution built for Experian's Automotive Information Services unit. The product utilizes proprietary SRC tools to transform three of the world's largest relational databases into a single data mart permitting rapid cross-referencing of vehicle, credit and household records. The Analysis Online Auto List Processor has reduced the time it takes to fulfill customer data requests from weeks to minutes. SRC's PinPoint CRM suite of data transformation tools is used to perform functions such as merge/ purge, data appending and geocoding. It also simplifies the querying process by replacing mainframe-based query language with intuitive drop-down menus and permits retrieval of record-level data such as household age, marital status, dwelling type and neighborhood profile, utilizing SRC's PinPoint Select data retrieval engine. The tool allows geographic-based searches down to DMA, MSA, ZIP code, block group, carrier route and custom trade area, utilizing an SRC data engine called Allocate that compresses, stores, manages, retrieves and displays geographically organized data. Experian plans to expand the functionality of the Analysis Online Auto List Processor by increasing the selectors available to customers. This would allow the head counts produced by the tool to be immediately converted into mailing lists sent directly to the customer and extend it into other core Experian data assets, including the company's national business database.

STRENGTHS: The tool's strengths include the ability to retrieve needed data from three separate databases in 10 minutes instead of several weeks, build queries from drop-down menus without requiring technical expertise, access multiple geography levels quickly and easily, and gain efficiency by eliminating the need for project managers to handle each data request manually.

WEAKNESSES: The first-generation tool can utilize only nine of the dozens of demographic elements in Experian's databases in building customer profiles; it also lacks documentation. These problems will be remedied in the next few months.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Experian conducted a long search for a provider possessing the underlying core technologies to build a tool that could rapidly search the millions of records in our databases and access geographies down to the household level. SRC was the only vendor we found that could meet those needs.

DELIVERABLES: Reports are completely configurable, depending on the criteria requested by the customer or internal user.

VENDOR SUPPORT: SRC has demonstrated exceptional competency on a very difficult project that another provider previously was unable to complete.

DOCUMENTATION: SRC delivered the Analysis Online Auto List Processor without documentation in order to allow Experian to begin using the new tool immediately. SRC is writing the documentation and is expected to deliver it in Q1 2001.

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