BACKGROUND: San Francisco-based Netcentives Inc. is a leading developer of Internet infrastructure software and services for relationship marketing solutions designed to drive e-commerce. Netcentives offers a wide range of promotional and direct marketing programs, including the ClickRewards Shopping Network, Custom Loyalty Networks for companies with major brands and portals and ClickRewards@Work, a corporate incentives solution. PLATFORMS: SQL Server on NT.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Netcentives needed answers to a broad range of sales and marketing questions related to consumers' use of its products and to craft one- to-one promotions geared toward driving e-commerce. To empower its business partners, sales force and marketing department with valuable consumer-loyalty intelligence, Netcentives needed to integrate the transactional, demographic, Web and e-mail clickthrough information generated daily from the more than 2.5 million members in its ClickRewards Shopping Network, ClickRewards@Work and Custom Loyalty Networks.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Netcentives uses PowerMart to integrate the various operational data sets and send them to analytical and reporting systems, enabling Netcentives and its business partners to manage and report on incoming consumer data from a broad range of sources. In the immediate future, Netcentives will extend PowerMart to provide additional decision support capabilities by managing targeted e-mail campaigns.

STRENGTHS: PowerMart has many strengths. PowerMart: empowers Netcentives to better target its customers by consolidating a diverse range of consumer data into a comprehensive consumer-intelligence infrastructure; enables Netcentives' business partners to instantly generate reports on customer- loyalty patterns within their ClickRewards promotions; allows Netcentives to focus on creating more value adds for its business partners and consumers by enabling increased insight into its own data; provides a scalable solution capable of integrating an increasing number of source and target systems associated with Netcentives' ClickRewards Shopping Network, Custom Loyalty Networks and ClickRewards@Work Network; optimizes performance of Netcentives' warehouse load/refresh processing through its incremental aggregation functionality and use of native database drivers; reduces Netcentives' development life cycle by eliminating transformations in low-level source code; allows Netcentives to migrate to a new database platform without rewriting Informatica code; allows Netcentives to reuse transformations that apply business rules so its data assets can reside in a single store.

WEAKNESSES: PowerMart currently has some restrictions handling unstructured text-file data sources. Its source control could be more efficient, making it easier to move repository changes across unconnected networks; and PowerMart could improve its flexibility with global variables.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Netcentives selected PowerMart because it provided a scalable solution capable of adapting to a rapidly expanding source and target e-commerce environment. The company needed a product capable of amassing diverse sets of customer information, giving both internal users and business partners expanded access to consumer-loyalty intelligence. PowerMart provided more flexibility and usability in handling complex environments than any of the competition. As Netcentives expands its sources to include more data from Web and e-mail clickthroughs, it can rely on PowerMart to continue building a strong, intelligent e-commerce decision support infrastructure.

DELIVERABLES: Netcentives writes high- level transformations using PowerMart to refresh the data warehouse nightly. It uses a variety of business intelligence tools running against the data warehouse to provide answers to marketing, business partners and the sales force across the ClickRewards, ClickRewards@Work and Custom Loyalty programs.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Informatica has responded to our issues with quality customer service. Informatica has also done an exemplary job of providing an external support network for putting clients in touch with each other at vendor- sponsored events and our discussion group on Yahoo!

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation thoroughly explains the implementation of transformations, but explanations of basic functionality with installation and configuration of the PowerMart server could be improved.

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