Pacific Bell Video Services (PBVS), a three-year-old subsidiary of Southwestern Bell, offers individuals the best of cable and satellite television services by combining local programming access with the quality and selection offered by traditional satellite services. They accomplish this task by transmitting the television signals to home satellite dishes by means of a land-based antenna instead of remote satellite. Today their services are available in the Los Angeles and Orange County areas.

Improving Customer Acquisition and Retention

As a new business with a unique service offering, Pacific Bell Video Services sought to make their direct mail promotions as highly effective as possible by improved target marketing and rapid promotion tracking. Therefore, in 1997 Pacific Bell Video Services began their planning process to deliver data warehousing capabilities to their customer care agents and marketing professionals. To better penetrate their current marketplaces and rapidly extend their client base in additional markets, they required detailed information on market demographics and buying patterns.

By accelerating and improving their decision-making process used to select the promotion type and the target audience, the data warehouse would monitor and expedite their promotion programs. The promotions of Pacific Bell Video Services' marketing group include both acquisition campaigns for their targeted prospect base and retention campaigns to insure existing customers continue their service. For example, a retention campaign may offer a free pay-per-view movie to clients within a certain demographic segment that has proven to be easily swayed by competitive offers.

To provide the customer buying and demographic information necessary for their users' reporting needs, Pacific Bell Video Service's data warehouse consists of internal sales and usage data and publicly available external sources such as census and housing information. Both sets of data have been tightly integrated to provide valuable insight into target markets, promotion effectiveness and future growth opportunities.

Deploying OLAP Via the Web

During their initial planning, Pacific Bell Video Services identified three critical success factors that would drive their selection process:

  • Web integration. Pacific Bell Video Service's corporate policy dictated that all software must be Web compatible. This policy was instituted because of the move toward Web computing and a lack of desktop standards; their offices include a mixture of Macintosh and PCs.
  • Rapid deployment. The marketing group was very eager to begin using the system because they are constantly launching new promotions. Therefore, the sooner the system was in production, the more quickly they could respond to market shifts within their sales areas.
  • Easy to maintain. As a smaller organization with a staff of approximately 200, PBVS had a few people tasked with building, deploying and maintaining the solution. To minimize administration needs, the system had to be centrally maintained for security and meta data management; and the Web solution also needed to be codeless to avoid the necessity to install, upgrade and maintain remote user desktops.

Information Advantage's Decision Suite OLAP solution quickly became the clear leader during the evaluation process and was selected for their OLAP initiative. WebOLAP, DecisionSuite's codeless desktop for the Web, provided the advanced, dynamic Web reporting that the casual users would need and the maintenance-free environment they required. In addition, DecisionSuite's lifetime price per user was significantly less than their competition, providing the lowest cost of ownership available for a solution of this type. Prior to choosing DecisionSuite, Hewlett-Packard was selected for the hardware platform and Oracle was chosen for the relational database.
As rapid implementation was critical for Pacific Bell Video Services to provide immediate value from the data warehouse to their future user base, Information Advantage's consultants were pivotal in the implementation success. Despite selecting a rather difficult subject area for the proof-of-concept, the initial application took only eight weeks from design to deployment. Today Pacific Bell Video Services is self-sufficient in maintaining and growing their data warehousing applications--currently six are deployed. Not only was their initial deployment rapid, they are able to deliver each subsequent application to their users within one month.

Building a Collaborative Information Culture

After selecting DecisionSuite, the IT staff participated in a three-day course at Information Advantage's training center. Following this training, Pacific Bell Video Services hosted education classes for their power and casual users. The first session was focused on the power users. After the training was complete, the homework assignment was to build and present several reports to the Web users, including senior management, who would be trained two weeks later. Senior management viewed the data warehouse initiative as a strategic venture based on one of their most valuable assets, their corporate information. The power users were tasked with using and understanding the contents of the data warehouse and a new technology and presented their OLAP reports using WebOLAP to the group. Through this experience the organization, including IT, business analysts and casual users, gained valuable feedback regarding the type of information that would be most valuable to the casual users, and they also indicated some data integrity issues that needed to be resolved. This meeting set the tone for a cooperative working environment that would drive the future of their information culture.

After becoming self-sufficient, ongoing questions were efficiently managed by the now well-trained internal DecisionSuite experts, who sometimes rely on Information Advantage's technical support hotline. The personal attention and quick resolutions of the issues from the hotline staff led Pacific Bell Video Services to rate Information Advantage's technical support as the best among all the vendors they use.

Expanding the Data Warehouse

Today Pacific Bell Video Services has deployed the solution to the marketing and financial analysts. The user community is physically divided between two locations, one in Northern California and the other in Orange County, making Web deployment the preferred means of accessing and analyzing the data warehouse.

The next roll-out phase will extend the solution to include the operations group. Operations managers and dispatch offices will use DecisionSuite to evaluate and improve the efficiency of their truck service calls. By the end of 1998, Pacific Bell Video Services anticipates delivering access and analysis capabilities with DecisionSuite to over 30 percent of their staff.

Looking back on Pacific Bell Video Service's data warehouse planning, implementation and deployment, the power of proven experience and technology significantly eased their ability to quickly deliver and begin seeing measurable results from the system.

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