Published on 21-Dec-2011
Validated on 07 Oct 2013
"The IBM Netezza data warehouse appliance has allowed us to rediscover the meaning of true business intelligence. It brings together the right data at the right time at the right granularity to improve customer intimacy and enabled us to develop applications like Customer360 in just five days." - Richard Herson, Senior Business Intelligence IT Manager, Colt Technology Services Group
Colt Technology Services Group
Smarter Commerce, Smarter Computing, Smarter Planet
Through its new Customer360 Business Intelligence application, built on the IBM Netezza data warehouse appliance, Colt staff can gain customer insight in just seconds to improve ‘customer intimacy’ and reduce costs by nearly US$1.9 million annually.
For Colt staff, accessing customer information required hours of research across numerous source systems.
Through its new Customer360 Business Intelligence application, built on the IBM Netezza data warehouse appliance, Colt staff can gain customer insight in just seconds to improve ‘customer intimacy’ and reduce costs.
US$1.9 million (₤1.2 million) in annual savings; 90 percent reduction in the time to complete ‘wildcard’ searches; more than 95 percent reduction in the time to gather information
When Richard Herson, senior business intelligence IT manager for Colt Technology Services Group, talks about the company’s Customer360 application, he refers to it as a “killer BI app.”
What makes Customer360 a killer business intelligence (BI) application?
“First, it offers high usability, with more than 1,000 queries daily, and is trusted and used by the entire organization,” says Herson. “Secondly, it provides operational efficiency, saving our organization more than ₤1.2 million (US$1.9 million) annually. It also provides a range, depth and intelligence far greater than conventional applications. Lastly, it was relatively inexpensive to develop.”
Building a killer BI application
Colt, Europe’s leading information delivery platform, operates a 21-country, 33,000 kilometer network that includes metropolitan area networks in 39 major European cities with direct fiber connections into 18,000 buildings and 19 Colt data centers. Through these integrated computing and network services, Colt’s customers deliver, share, process and store their vital business information.
Colt attributes its success both to its advanced infrastructure and its customer-centric business model. For example, using the Customer360 application, Colt staff can quickly determine how many service contracts the company has within a specific region and conduct outreach accordingly.
“Before speaking with any customer, our service staff performs a ‘Customer360’ so that they can be informed,” says Herson. “The application behaves and is used like Google. Almost any piece of corporate data can be located within five to ten seconds and you can drill down on any account to gain insight into the relationship, including account team contacts, sales opportunities in progress, call records, invoices and payments, and Colt assets and network resources used.”
And the application provides more than just corporate facts. “We also have a searchable ‘intelligence’ tab in Customer360, which over the next few months will be growing to suggest product up-sell and cross- sell opportunities, flag customers that are changing their behavior and possible sentiment, and identify customers that could have capacity issues in the near future based on current usage patterns,” says Herson.
Customer360 represents a huge advance in customer service at Colt. Previously, to obtain customer information, staff had to identify and search each appropriate source system (there are more than 15 source systems) and then compile the information manually. The success of Customer360 depended on the capability to quickly search and analyze more than 50 billion characters of data that provided a drilldown path to a further 18 terabytes of enterprise data.
“Gathering an in-depth view of a customer was a challenging process with our old environment,” says Herson. “Very few people knew which source systems to search, or who to ask. The average search time took, conservatively, 30 minutes for a system expert, and many hours for most staff.”
For Colt’s BI team, the IBM® Netezza® data warehouse appliance was the perfect platform for Customer360, enabling query response times of 10 seconds or less.
“For many years there has been a recognized need to provide a consolidated Colt customer view and several attempts had been made to have this requirement addressed,” says Herson. ”Initiatives ranged from extending the functionality of existing enterprise applications to purchasing off-the-shelf solutions or having an application developed using traditional OLTP technology. All failed to meet the requirement because none provided access to the full range of enterprise datasets and the search methods adopted were too structured, too slow and too costly to maintain and support. In contrast, the IBM Netezza data warehouse appliance has allowed us to rediscover the meaning of true business intelligence. It brings together the right data at the right time at the right granularity to improve customer intimacy and enabled us to develop applications like Customer360 in just five days.”
Instead of using a traditional star schema data model, the Colt BI team built its enterprise warehouse as a collection of business entities, with each entity representing a business data asset (for example, sales opportunities, trouble tickets, provisioned services, Call Data Records, and more). The content for each asset is obtained from the source system using IBM InfoSphere® DataStage®, a component of IBM’s data integration software platform that helps organizations derive more value from the information spread across their systems. IBM InfoSphere FastTrack, another IBM data integration platform component, captures and stores metadata regarding the life cycle of each asset (asset owner, relevant business rules, and so on) to simplify data integration.
“A major benefit of the integrated InfoSphere product range has been how it’s raised the visibility and importance of Business Intelligence governance within the organization,” says Herson. “We now have business and IT managers, strategists, planners, analysts and developers all sharing the same BI vision and common understanding of interface contracts, business terms and data definitions. This has resulted in users demanding their BI requirements are met from data obtained directly from the Enterprise Warehouse and not from localized legacy ‘spreadmarts’, such as Access databases and Excel spreadsheets.”
He adds, “The power of the IBM Netezza data warehouse appliance also allowed us to move toward this dynamic plug-and-play data model. IBM Netezza provides the processing power and disk capacity required to manage these data assets. We have some entities that contain tens of millions of rows and are 600 columns wide.”
Processing 500 million records daily
For any BI team, success is measured not only in terms of what BI services are delivered, but also how quickly they are operational. The platform’s scalability and simplicity have enabled Herson’s team to deliver more than 50 BI services—supporting daily margin and revenue assurance, cost center and project reporting, and intra-day jeopardy management—in just 18 months.
“The list of applications we run against the IBM Netezza data warehouse appliance is growing every day,” says Herson. “More than 23,000 requests and 500 million data records are processed daily. We recently delivered the capability to link Customer360 to the CTI [Computer Telephony Integration] switchboard to more quickly conduct ‘wildcard’ searches. Typically, when customers call the Colt service desk, they are prompted to enter one of four pieces of information (account number, incident number and so on) and the system routes the call to the respective customer service agent. However, if a customer doesn’t have the necessary information, an agent must conduct a ‘wildcard’ search. These wildcard searches against our Oracle Database took two to three minutes. With the IBM Netezza data warehouse appliance, we can get the information back on average in five to ten seconds.”
Moving BI into the cloud
To help deliver new services even faster, Colt’s BI team is investigating the benefits of moving BI into a hybrid cloud environment. The hybrid cloud is expected to provide a scalable and consistent reporting visualization experience at period end when demand is at its highest. Another potential benefit from using Cloud-based technology will be the capability to generate usage records that allow Colt to further improve its understanding of demand, capacity and costs.
“Using a hybrid cloud, IBM Netezza would remain in our data center and the servers required by the presentation layer would reside in the elastic private cloud, hosted by Colt.” says Herson. “The IBM Netezza data warehouse appliance has certainly opened my eyes to the ‘Art of the Possible’ and also gives me the confidence to address a whole range of new opportunities.”
Designed for Data
Delivers a dynamic, agile business intelligence environment, managing more than 18 terabytes of data and billions of records to provide staff rapid insight into each customer relationship.
Tuned to the Task
Consolidates analytics data and processing on the purpose-built IBM Netezza data warehouse appliance and improves information delivery by more than 95 percent. Customer information that once took hours to compile can now be accessed in 10 seconds or less.
Managed for Rapid Service Delivery
Enables delivery of critical BI application in five days, with a total of six BI services delivered in just six months. Moving the company’s BI environment into a hybrid cloud is expected to provide a scalable and consistent reporting visualization experience at period end when demand is at its highest.
The new BI infrastructure at Colt unlocks the value of customer data, reduces operational costs by US$1.9 million annually and significantly improves customer service.
About IBM Netezza data warehouse appliances
The IBM Netezza data warehouse appliance revolutionized data warehousing and advanced analytics by integrating database, server and storage into a single, easy-to-manage appliance that requires minimal set-up and ongoing administration while producing faster and more consistent analytic performance. The IBM Netezza data warehouse appliance family simplifies business analytics dramatically by consolidating all analytic activity in the appliance, right where the data resides, for blisteringly fast performance. Visit netezza.com to see how our family of data warehouse appliances eliminates complexity at every step and lets you drive true business value for your organization. For the latest data warehouse and advanced analytics blogs, videos and more, please visit: thinking.netezza.com.
IBM Data Warehousing and Analytics Solutions
IBM provides the broadest and most comprehensive portfolio of data warehousing, information management and business analytic software, hardware and solutions to help customers maximize the value of their information assets and discover new insights to make better and faster decisions and optimize their business outcomes.
For more inforamtion
To learn more about IBM Netezza data warehouse appliances, please contact your IBM sales representative or IBM Business Partner or visit: ibm.com/software/data/netezza
To increase the business value of your IBM data warehouse appliance, participate in an on-line community. Join the IBM Netezza community at: www.enzeecommunity.com.
For more information about Colt Technology Services Group, visit: www.colt.net
Products and services used
© Copyright IBM Corporation 2011 IBM Corporation Software Group Route 100 Somers, NY 10589 U.S.A. Produced in the United States of America December 2011 IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, InfoSphere, and Netezza are trademarks or registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both. If these and other IBM trademarked terms are marked on their first occurrence in this information with a trademark symbol (® or ™), these symbols indicate U.S. registered or common law trademarks owned by IBM at the time this information was published. Such trademarks may also be registered or common law trademarks in other countries. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the Web at "Copyright and trademark information" at ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml Microsoft, Access and Excel are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both. Other company, product and service names may be trademarks or service marks of others. References in this publication to IBM products or services do not imply that IBM intends to make them available in all countries in which IBM operates.