PLATFORMS: The National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative (NRTC) runs its data warehouse on Sequent's NUMA-Q 2000 server with 512MB of memory and 500GB of disk storage. The RDBMS is Oracle version 7 with analysis tools from Cognos.

BACKGROUND: NRTC is a national cooperative agency established in 1987 to provide modern telecommunications services to rural America. NRTC currently has more than 800 members throughout the US, primarily local telephone and electric cooperatives. In 1994, through a partnership with DIRECTV, NRTC launched a Digital Broadcast Satellite (DBS) business.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Since its initial service offering, NRTC subscribers have grown to over 800,000. Due to an outdated IT infrastructure, NRTC had a growing volume of data, but no analysis capabilities. Manual reports generated by the large centralized databases were slow and did not provide sufficient detail. With only limited remote access to the DIRECTV database, data access and response time were unsatisfactory. These compelling forces required NRTC to find a solution that was both flexible and scalable and could meet the needs of the staff and local cooperative members. NRTC determined that a data warehouse solution would be the best overall and most cost- effective means of meeting their data analysis needs. Sequent provided "one- stop-shopping" with their fixed-price Decision Advantage data warehouse offering--a NUMA-Q system running an Oracle7 database. Two VMS systems feed the warehouse, which houses subscriber transaction activity as well as monthly snapshots.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Through the warehouse, NRTC analyzes the beginning versus end accounting period penetration and churn for subscribers and subscriptions. This has enabled NRTC to succeed in their goal of better understanding, predicting and controlling customer churn.

STRENGTHS: Sequent provided a complete solution, including the data warehouse server platform and professional services to guarantee success. Further, the NUMA-Q 2000 provides a highly scalable platform that allows for future growth.

WEAKNESSES: The major weakness in the data warehouse project has been the quality of data used to feed the system and the reliability of the source networks required to support the transfer of data to keep the warehouse up to date.

SELECTION CRITERIA: NRTC was seeking a vendor who had proven data warehousing success, could work with a multi-vendor project team, could provide a total solution, a highly scalable platform as well as ongoing support and knowledge transfer.

DELIVERABLES: Better understanding of its customers through profiling has enabled NRTC to execute better-focused marketing strategies. Through use of the data warehouse, NRTC has been able to conduct highly targeted marketing campaigns, which have reduced overall costs and increased effectiveness by a 10:1 ratio. The warehouse has also delivered many benefits to NRTC, such as revealing and analyzing unexpected trends. The warehouse enabled NRTC to determine that there was an unacceptably high rate of disconnects due to late or nonpayment that was being impacted by delays in receipt of bills by subscribers. Adjustments to the payment period are expected to sharply decrease the disconnect rate and capture what was previously lost revenue. The production data warehouse provides the framework for NRTC's future marketing vision. Plans include enhancing data quality and enrichment by overlaying internal data with external data, enhancing marketing processes by attributing results to promotional activity, expanding the warehouse scope to include financial data and to develop an enterprise data warehouse, one mart at a time.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Sequent Professional Services provided comprehensive pre- and post-sales support and played a significant role in successfully implementing the solution.

DOCUMENTATION: Documentation was complete and easy to understand.

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