Published on 30-Jun-2011
Validated on 07 Dec 2012
"Automation of the bulk of our wellness programs means that we can constantly improve our position as the leader in integrated fitness and nutrition programming for elite athletes and leading corporations alike." - —Jon Zerden, Chief Technology Officer, Athletes’ Performance and Core Performance
Application Design-Build-Manage, Business Process Management (BPM), Development & Technology Adoption, Enabling Business Flexibility, Cloud & Service Management, Openness, Service Oriented Architecture, Web Services
IBM WebSphere ILOG JRules business rule management system automates real-time training data
Cost-effectively codify expertise residing in spreadsheets and the collective knowledge of leading experts in behavioral sciences, fitness, nutrition and physical therapy to expand personalized fitness product offerings to a larger wellness market.
When developing its leading corporate wellness offering, company deployed IBM WebSphere ILOG JRules, which utilizes training and nutritional logic to customize individual programs for the company’s clients as they proceed through their wellness programs.
·Boosts customer retention rate to 92 percent ·Enables a single performance specialist to work with 16 clients at a time ·Leverages decades of experience to a larger audience
Athletes’ Performance Inc. has pioneered a unique, integrated approach for performance training, nutrition and physical therapy for elite and professional athletes—as well as the general public. The company operates four training facilities in Arizona, California, Florida and Texas, and also provides an extensive menu of on-site services.
“Olympic and professional athletes come to us for our in-depth training programs,” says Jon Zerden, chief technology officer at Athletes’ Performance and Core Performance. “And through our wellness offering, Core Performance, we deliver these proven training components to consumers—through our website, at Core Performance training facilities and through corporate wellness programs.”
Data scalability opens new markets
But as Zerden notes, ensuring broad consumer market adoption for specialized athletic training programs faces two immediate hurdles. Athletes’ Performance management needed to be able to adapt its programs to a larger audience—yet the company had to make sure that its reputation for extremely high-quality training was not compromised.
“Scalability is essential for entering new and highly competitive markets,” says Zerden. “Getting ready to compete in the consumer market called for automating the bulk of our professional-level coursework so we could reach more customers through mobile devices, web devices and exercise equipment with interactive sensors.”
BRMS provides rules-based data capture and automation
Finding a way to automatically capture knowledge from the company’s over 100 practitioners initially seemed a daunting task for Zerden and his team. And once captured, trainer information had to be transformed into practical, user-specific counseling tailored to individual consumers, which Zerden and his colleagues found to be time-consuming, potentially inaccurate and difficult to customize.
“We came to the conclusion that we needed a rules-based approach to embed intelligence within our training systems in real time and on the fly,” Zerden says. With this realization, the IT team at Athletes’ Performance decided to deploy IBM® WebSphere® ILOG® JRules Business Rule Management System (BRMS), which enables the company to automate guidance—such as best practices for exercise and diet—while also being able to automatically apply customized decisions for specific training situations/user personalities in real time. “The JRules BRMS was the only solution capable of both automating as much guidance as possible and still preserving flexibility for remote and on-site coaching staff,” Zerden says.
Training methods become deliverable through multiple channels
Deployment of the JRules BRMS solution helped ensure that all workout recommendations are immediately accessible to customers interacting with exercise equipment touch screens, as well as mobile devices and web browsers. This, says Zerden, was made possible by loading the JRules BRMS solution with 36,000 training rules taken from multiple Excel spreadsheets holding the collective knowledge and experience of company fitness specialists.
By implementing the JRules BRMS solution within a SOA/REST architecture that relies upon cost-effective open-source tools, the company’s IT team was able to quickly deploy a specialized rules engine. Individual customer information is captured from daily evaluations and questions, and is fed into a customized program based upon the company’s Core Performance training methodology. This Core Performance Prescription Engine (CPPE) then makes real-time modifications to direct training regimens by taking into account factors such as pace, schedule changes, injuries and general health.
Zerden says the solution also helps ensure that fitness staff can refine training information on an ongoing basis. “Automation of the bulk of our wellness programs means that we can constantly improve our position as the leader in integrated fitness and nutrition programming for elite athletes and leading corporations alike,” he says. “With the help of a single IT analyst, our Performance Innovation team composed of professional trainers can quickly make changes in the system—and the updates are instantly proliferated worldwide to our customers.”
More proof points expand market share
Based on the JRules BRMS solution, the company’s Core Performance Prescription Engine is now the world’s first intelligent and adaptive rules-based system for delivering optimal and consistent physical training globally in real-time. The CPPE currently hosts approximately 36,000 training rules for customizing training programs for consumer clients—and provides the company with the ability to prove health gains and expand market share.
“The JRules BRMS system gives us the ability to better promote our services with corporate accounts,” Zerden says. “We can now collect data points on how training positively affects triglycerides and other blood markers, which makes a strong case for retaining our programs to improve employee health.”
Reliable governance upholds brand standards
The JRules BRMS also helps ensure consistency of service and training throughout the company’s facilities, which is critical for the Athletes’ Performance brand. “BRMS tools were really the only option to make each environment consistent from facility to facility or across different types of training programs,” Zerden says. “The solution put a governance process into place, so our customers know that no matter where they’re working out—or whether they’re in one our facilities or interacting with a mobile device—they can rely upon the same rigorous training protocols that increase physical fitness.”
New service capabilities hit game-changing retention levels
Adopting the JRules BRMS also helped ensure that the company’s highly sophisticated service offerings could successfully be scaled, customized—and offered at competitive prices to retain growing legions of amateur athletes and corporate clients, Zerden says.
“Health club customer retention rates hover around 60 percent annually, which means that competing organizations typically lose 40 percent of their membership base every year,” Zerden says. “Thanks to the power of the JRules BRMS solution, we’re able to automate wellness guidance, which allows a single performance specialist to provide up to 16 clients at a time with a highly cost-effective wellness experience. As a result, we can boast 92 percent annual membership retention, so our attrition rate is eight percent—which is an extraordinary customer satisfaction metric for any company targeting consumers.”
BRMS scouts data for future opportunities
Zerden’s team continues to discover new ways for JRules BRMS to capture and deliver critical training information. “The data elements we’re now working with include biometric movement patterns, which we can use to illustrate how our programs reduce insurance costs and employee absenteeism,” Zerden says. “Information like this will go a long way to expand our training offerings in the future. And we also believe some of our findings will help related health and fitness research fields. As far as we can tell, we’ve just begun to scratch the surface of opportunity with our new data-mining capabilities.”
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Products and services used
IBM products and services that were used in this case study.
WebSphere ILOG JRules
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