PLATFORMS: WhiteCross WX9020 enterprise server.

BACKGROUND: El Corte Inglés (ECI) is a major European retail group with 60 department stores throughout Spain, as well as Hypercor food stores, a travel agency and an insurance group with approximately 35,000 employees.

PROBLEM SOLVED: ECI runs numerous special promotions each year and uses direct marketing campaigns to attract customers. ECI has a vast amount of data detailing customers' purchase history to help it target direct marketing, but the amount of data made it difficult to extract detailed information in a timely fashion. Simple queries took up to half an hour to answer, with more complex queries taking up to four hours. HeatSeeker enabled ECI to get results from the same queries in mere seconds, with the capacity to run tens of thousands of queries in seconds. In addition, HeatSeeker allowed ECI to mine the entire database, unlike tools that sample just a portion, looking for potentially valuable patterns that provided ECI with more comprehensive results.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: HeatSeeker utilizes decision tree algorithms to identify the high order interaction patterns of many attributes which statistical analysis may fail to discover. HeatSeeker utilizes data from El Corte Inglés-issued credit cards to analyze customer purchases against millions of product codes and 12 months of sales records, uncovering hidden patterns of purchase. With those results, HeatSeeker then determines which customers are most likely to respond to particular product promotions and places profitability factors on those groups. It is then possible to mail each promotion to an optimal target audience, based on their previous buying patterns.

STRENGTHS: HeatSeeker is a PC client-based tool and runs on a massively parallel WX9020 server with the ability to mine the entire database, rather than just a sample of the database. The sheer speed and brute force of the system eliminate the need to index data prior to mining, as the WhiteCross system is able to scan millions of rows of data per second. Thus, HeatSeeker can complete tens of thousands of queries in seconds. In addition, the WhiteCross' database is SQL- compliant, allowing users to easily import legacy data from existing databases.

WEAKNESSES: Currently HeatSeeker runs only on the WhiteCross platform. This combination, however, provides the sheer speed of the system.

SELECTION CRITERIA: WhiteCross' combination of HeatSeeker running on the WX9020 server was the most powerful system ECI found, capable of quickly handling the vast amount of data and analysis. ECI turned to WhiteCross to provide a solution, after trying to implement an internally built warehouse and mining solution. The previous system did not provide the fast, real-time analysis to queries which ECI needed. The WhiteCross system also proved to be more cost effective when compared with other offerings.

DELIVERABLES: HeatSeeker provides segmentation, profiling and predictive mining support for one-to-one marketing initiatives. In addition, HeatSeeker can evaluate the success of campaigns. The use of HeatSeeker is not restricted to El Corte's marketing department, though. The company also uses the system in the budgetary process, assessing the number of mailings which may be produced during the year, projecting more accurate numbers of total pieces per mailing.

VENDOR SUPPORT: WhiteCross Systems installed the system rapidly and offered full implementation support for ECI.

DOCUMENTATION: Although HeatSeeker comes with full documentation, WhiteCross consultants were needed during implementation to work with ECI until it became fully familiar with the full functionality of the system.

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