BACKGROUND: SaskTel is the leading full-service communications company in Saskatchewan, Canada, providing voice, data, Internet, text and messaging services over a fiber optic-based, fully digital network as well as cellular, paging, wireless data and FleetNet 800 service through its SaskTel Mobility division. SaskTel has been serving the people of Saskatchewan for 90 years and is also now serving customers around the world. Its current customer base numbers 500,000.

PLATFORMS: VALEX runs on an Oracle7.3 database. Other components include a mainframe (MVS), data warehouse (HP-UNIX), an application server (IBM AIX) and a database server (IBM AIX). The clients are Windows NT.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Historically, SaskTel had practiced product-centric mass marketing that was focused on expansion of customer accounts. Over time, SaskTel began to implement direct marketing campaigns; but the execution was very labor-intensive, the data became stale very quickly and marketers had no capacity for measuring the results of marketing campaigns. SaskTel's goal was to integrate marketing vision, systems development, data mining and process improvement in order to produce a meaningful, ongoing dialogue with customers. The VALEX installation was a key cornerstone in achieving this vision. SaskTel is now able to develop, implement and understand direct marketing initiatives that not only provide revenue, customer retention and growth but also now develop a relationship with customers that will, in turn, lead to higher levels of customer loyalty. Since VALEX was implemented, SaskTel has seen response rates for its marketing campaigns increase by 200 to 600 percent.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: VALEX serves as the control center for all of SaskTel's direct marketing efforts. VALEX creates nightly, triggered campaigns and also facilitates campaign assessment. These nightly triggers offer a flexible environment for bringing in external data for selection criteria for marketing campaigns. SaskTel's marketers can then focus on planning and assessment rather than execution.

STRENGTHS: SaskTel has implemented Exchange Applications' VALEX software to identify the customer segments offering the greatest profit potential and close the gap between current and potential profitability through highly targeted direct marketing campaigns executed across multiple channels. VALEX helped SaskTel reduce marketing cycle times as well as decrease staffing requirements and improve campaign returns. VALEX has enabled SaskTel to effectively and efficiently target its marketing efforts. This has impacted the company's ability to retain customers, more effectively cross-sell and up-sell additional products and services, increase response rates and overall revenue-per-customer, reduce the volume of mail sent and prioritize campaigns so that customers aren't over-solicited. Based on SaskTel's early success using VALEX, we believe that we will recoup the cost of the solution in less than two years.

WEAKNESSES: VALEX does not currently offer very robust out-of-the-box reporting capabilities. Therefore, we have to rely on existing reporting tools.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Exchange Applications and VALEX gave SaskTel the ability to meet its project objectives and provided a framework that can incorporate future technology advances. Exchange Applications also transferred to SaskTel the knowledge and business processes required to run the solution on our own.

DELIVERABLES: The VALEX solution provided a number of deliverables: a customer-centric data mart that allows for easy campaign tracking including rates, churn and ROI; an easy way to use external data such as predictive models on the development and execution of campaigns; and a means for SaskTel to prioritize which campaigns will be presented to which customer. Exchange Applications customized SaskTel's solution so that direct mail and telemarketing files are automatically FTP'd to SaskTel call centers and mail houses.

VENDOR SUPPORT: The integrated systems team from Exchange Applications provided technical support and also had a strategic view of the whole picture. The team informed SaskTel of all the implications. SaskTel thoroughly enjoyed working with the team at Exchange Applications and found them to be knowledgeable, available and hard working. The VALEX software was implemented in approximately four weeks, and the total time to market was 20 weeks.

DOCUMENTATION: We found the application and the associated documentation easy to understand and use.

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