Case Study: Business Analytics
LSSiDATA projects significant revenue increase after business analytics transformation from Mainline
Blue Bell, Pennsylvania
- Transform data aggregation into higher value business analytics, increasing value delivered
- Use predictive analytics to change slow, manual investigations into fast, automated ones
- Enable faster and more flexible changes by customers and staff, reducing IT overhead
- Business Analytics Workshop
- Mainline Consulting Services
- IBM PureData powered by Netezza QuickStart Services
- Minutes instead of hours for end users to achieve results
- Revenue projected to significantly increase
- Ability to assign 30 percent of production staff to higher value development projects
- Projected 100 percent payback in under two years
This is an age of big data, when new types of data sources can be combined in new ways for strategic advantage.
Two years ago, however, LSSiDATA knew it was in no position to seize this opportunity, and it asked Rick Kurtz to come on board as general manager. The company was an aggregator of daily changes in telecom land line information for use in 411 directory services. It also made this data available to other companies, such as debt collectors and marketers, that wanted to locate customers.
“Our business category was being commoditized,” says Kurtz. “Our data sets came from telephone companies only, and our business rules were structured, rigid, and hierarchical, restricting our flexibility to change.”
The company needed a transformation. “We had to reposition ourselves in the business analytics intelligence space as opposed to being a data aggregator,” says Kurtz. “We had to move up the value chain, and add analytics value to our data.”
To support the change, the company would have to come up with a whole new delivery and analytics platform, Kurtz adds. With the marketplace evolving quickly, the time left to make the change was extremely limited.
Mainline had served LSSiDATA for years as a hardware/software vendor, and had recently expanded its business analytics practice. Kurtz engaged Mainline to spearhead the company’s technology transformation, which began with a Business Analytics Workshop.
“Mainline provided the thought leadership for the future-state vision of where we needed to be, and what was needed from a technology perspective—hardware, software, data architecture, and analytics repository,” says Kurtz. “And they drew the road map to get there from where we were at that point.”
The most difficult step was defining the application that would deliver the future state, Kurtz adds. “At first, it was nebulous,” he explains. “The transition point was focusing on how to serve our customers in the collection industry by enabling them to identify, locate, and engage delinquent debtors.”
At a number of points, the LSSiDATA team wasn’t sure what to do next and wanted a time-out, Kurtz recalls. “Mainline told us ‘no, you have to move.’ And we said all right.”
The process led to defining a new application called ConneX, which lets collection customers use multiple data sources and predictive analytics to find and contact delinquent debtors quickly and optimally. “Once we grounded it in a use case, we made a tremendous amount of progress,” Kurtz says.
The single biggest “aha” point was designing the master data object model, says Kurtz. “The Mainline architect laid out a model that brought together disparate data sets and linked or fused them in a way that allowed our application to work,” he explains.
ConneX is powered by IBM PureData for Analytics, an appliance that simplifies and optimizes services for analytic applications. Mainline provided the appliance, along with QuickStart Services, which includes onsite education and knowledge transfer to help the IT team speed time to value.
Finding people in minutes instead of hours
The new environment enables users to get the highest-quality data from any data source and build a customized output file around a delinquent debtor based upon predictive analytics, Kurtz explains.
“We sort through all the data about a customer and put together a unique profile about how to identify, locate and contact that person, based on the quality of data on hand,” Kurtz adds. “Our analytics model provides a small, highly relevant, and accurate data set about where to contact a given customer, and it can reduce the time needed to find that person from hours to minutes.”
The result, Kurtz adds, is that collectors spend less time finding people and have more time to increase productivity and renegotiate debts.
Using only what’s most valuable
LSSiDATA corporate customers can easily optimize their investment: a dashboard measures the value of each data source and enables them to quickly substitute one data source in place of another because it looks more promising. “There are user-defined flags that enable our customers to only use and pay for the data that creates the most value for them,” says Kurtz.
ConneX also captures social media content to verify and augment existing data. “We can show the value of that data to our prospective customers because at the end of the day, it will result in their debt collectors getting to the debtors faster,” says Kurtz.
100 percent payback in less than two years
Because of increased automation, LSSiDATA has a greater capacity to support growth without adding staff. “Our revenue and margin per employee goes up,” Kurtz says. “We’ve been able to re-assign about 30 percent of our production staff to development, where they can add more value more quickly in new projects instead of operations. All together, we can estimate 100 percent payback on our investment in Mainline Services and this platform in 18 to 24 months.”
It’s also easier to make changes and respond to new market opportunities faster. For instance, the time needed to add new data suppliers and onboard new corporate customers has gone from months to weeks, says Kurtz.
“Mainline provided exactly the transformation we needed,” Kurtz continues. “They came at our business with a consultative approach, and provided a whole new business analytics platform. We expect to significantly increase our revenue in the years ahead. I think of Mainline as a business partner that just happens to be in the technology business.”