Published on 16-Oct-2013
"With InfoSphere Data Explorer, we can crawl deeper into big data with specific configurations tuned for each industry, and that truly sets MultiView apart." - Scott Bedford, Chairman and CEO, MultiView
Media & Entertainment
Big Data, Big Data & Analytics, Big Data & Analytics: Improve IT, Digital Media
MultiView wanted to improve the relevancy of search results for its buyers guides to increase revenue. Each buyers guide is different depending on the industry. And one of the challenges MultiView faced with its old search software was that it could take staff weeks to launch new buyers guides. With InfoSphere Data Explorer, MultiView improved the relevancy of search results for buyers. This has helped the company improve the turn-around time to create or update buyers guides by 85 percent. The solution is also expected to help the comapny increase sales by an an estimated 10 percent.
MultiView wanted to improve the relevancy of search results for its buyers guides to increase revenue. However, its existing search and navigation software required significant customization, which was time-consuming and costly.
With IBM® InfoSphere® Data Explorer, MultiView can provide highly accurate and relevant search results for data stored in internal databases and advertiser websites.
Improves relevancy of search results; reduces time to create and update buyers guides from several weeks to days—an 85 percent improvement; projects more than 10 percent sales increase with improved discovery capabilities.
MultiView is the leading business-to-business (B2B) digital media publisher for associations. The company’s news briefs, educational content and buyers guides help more than 1,400 trade associations connect their members with the industry information, products and services they need.
MultiView markets its buyers guides as “the ultimate search engine for each industry.” To create these buyers guides, the company populates websites with products and services that are of unique interest to the members of subscribing trade associations.
For association members, these buyers guides offer a single source for relevant information. For example, sheriffs regularly turn to a buyers guide powered by MultiView to locate everything they need to run their organizations—from law enforcement handcuffs to commissary equipment.
For the associations, the buyers guides provide a channel to help build member relationships along with non-dues revenue generated from advertising.
Scott Bedford, the company’s Chairman and CEO, explains, “Rather than a sheriff going to a general search engine and getting several million results, our buyers guide enables them to quickly find products for law enforcement personnel.”
A need to improve relevancy and time to market
The key to the success of these buyers guides is relevancy. However, MultiView IT staff found it difficult and time-consuming using their existing search technology to deliver the customized relevancy that professionals in specific fields needed.
In creating or updating each buyers guide, MultiView staff could spend weeks customizing search results—and even then, Bedford says, the level of granularity simply was not where it needed to be.
“The B2B space is very demanding,” says Bedford. “Giving industry professionals search results, down to the exact model and part number they need, is very important. We currently provide over 300 different buyers guides. Having to do one-off customizations to deliver the relevant search results was becoming a significant burden and could delay the delivery of a new guide by a week or two.”
The team reviewed offerings from several vendors, considering both software solutions and hardware appliances.
“We needed scalability, configurability without customization, and the capability to mine big data at a granular level,” says Bob Kerr, chief technology officer, MultiView. “We looked at the vendors in this space and quickly came to the conclusion that if we went with a hardware appliance we would have to keep adding appliances as we grew. We then reviewed Forrester Research reports to understand which software solutions offered the best functionality.”
Rapid implementation completed in less than two months
A demo of IBM InfoSphere Data Explorer software, a core component of the IBM big data platform, helped Kerr make his final decision.
“We found that the other solutions didn't have the functional capability and the rich set of features that InfoSphere Data Explorer has,” says Kerr. “InfoSphere Data Explorer allows us to provide a richer and deeper discovery and navigation experience for our users.”
The IBM solution was deployed in less than two months.
“We needed to implement the new capabilities rapidly,” says Kerr. “IBM Software Services staff showed us how to configure the system to meet the needs of our B2B buyers, and we were up and running fairly quickly, completing the project on time and on budget.”
Slashing weeks off delivery times
Each buyers guide is different depending on the industry. And one of the challenges MultiView faced with its old search software was that it could take staff weeks to launch new buyers guides. With InfoSphere Data Explorer, time to market for new guides and updates is dramatically reduced.
“We now have a single product that is flexible and easy to configure,” says Kerr. “We can respond to changes in a day or two versus a week or two.”
A richer, deeper experience for users
Today, InfoSphere Data Explorer indexes data from MultiView’s internal advertiser databases—which contain 8 - 9 terabytes (TB) of data—along with content directly from each advertiser’s website. To give a sense of the volume of information, 8 - 9 TB of data alone equals approximately 9,000 copies of the Encyclopedia Britannica or 540 piles of typed paper stacked as tall as the Eiffel Tower.
“The data is coming back at an extremely granular level,” says Kerr. “We can configure the software such that it understands and addresses relevancy in the context of the user’s business. As a result, we are getting better results than before. For example, if a golf course superintendent uses Toro equipment and searches the buyers guide for a lawn mower, the search engine will provide detailed information regarding the Toro models specifically designed for golf courses.”
For Bedford, having these deep search and navigation capabilities is setting MultiView apart from its competitors.
“Many buyers guides do not provide any type of access to web-based data for their advertisers; so when users conduct a search, they are only searching the data that an advertiser submitted,” says Bedford. “Others use generic search tools that are not tuned to the unique phrases and words used within a particular industry. So a church administrator looking for steeples may get results that range from individuals and businesses named ‘Steeple’ to actual church steeples. With InfoSphere Data Explorer, we can crawl deeper into big data with specific configurations tuned for each industry, and that truly sets MultiView apart.”
Ten percent or more sales lift expected
The easier it is for industry buyers to find what they need, the greater revenue for both MultiView and its client associations.
“I believe we will see at least a 10 percent lift on the revenue side in the areas that we deploy the technology,” says Bedford.
In addition to increased sales through its existing buyers guides, Bedford and Kerr expect improved relevancy of search results to help MultiView attract new clients.
“We are far and away the market leader at what we do, but there is still a lot of opportunity for growth in this marketplace,” says Bedford. “We believe there are at least 20,000 additional trade associations today that can use our products. By providing the best possible product and the best possible user experience, we can expand our client base.”
A catalyst for new business opportunities
For Kerr, an unexpected benefit of InfoSphere Data Explorer software has been the new business opportunities that are now possible. Several areas Kerr and his team are exploring include the following:
● Applying navigation and discovery capabilities to its sales and customer relationship management systems so staff can gain new insight into customer needs
● Using the software’s rich analytic capabilities to help staff better measure success and refine search results
● Leveraging new discovery capabilities to enable associations to better gather, manage, curate and share content
“We are looking at how this technology can help us improve our partnerships with the associations we serve and improve our operations,” says Kerr. “Associations have a lot of deep content. And we see significant opportunities in helping them maximize use of this content.”
What advice would Kerr and Bedford offer other companies trying to tackle big data? Be ready to change your thinking, they say.
“This technology offers tremendous capabilities,” says Kerr. “We did some initial training, which helped us address the challenge at hand. However, we realized more training up front would have helped us remove some of the boundaries in our thinking. We are just now stepping back to understand what is possible, and the opportunities, we realize, are enormous.”
For more information
To learn more about IBM InfoSphere Data Explorer software, please contact your IBM sales representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website: ibm.com/software/data/infosphere/data-explorer
For more information about MultiView, visit: www.multiview.com
Products and services used
IBM products and services that were used in this case study.
InfoSphere Data Explorer
Software Services for Information Management
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