Data warehouses and analytics have been around for a number of years, but never has their presence proven to be more crucial than now. For years businesses have been gathering tons of data from interactions with their customers, suppliers, and other related service providers. Both back-office enterprise resource planning (ERP) and front-office customer relationship management (CRM) systems have played a vital role in collecting these terabytes of data. More and more businesses are turning to analytics to understand what their customers want and how to keep them satisfied. Despite recent market volatility, acquisitions, and consolidations, we're witnessing two main motivations for these actions from vendors:
Market consolidation such as SPSS acquiring DataDistilleries,
Business Objects taking over Acta, SAS
acquiring Marketmax, and Applix concentrating
Integration including PeopleSoft adding a new analytics tool,
the SAP CRM analytics upgrade, and Siebel
getting more analytical
signs point toward market growth and the battle between analytics market leaders
such as SAS, Teradata, Cognos,
Business Objects, and E.piphany has yet to
reach its peak. CRM leaders are strongly moving towards the enhancement of their
existing modules by integrating analytics in their out-of-the-box offerings.
Only the small to medium business (SMB) CRM vendors are dragging their feet
and may soon find themselves excluded from the ring.
there are a number of medium- to small-sized analytics providers that could
present the perfect opportunity for an SMB CRM vendor willing to team up and
I-Impact is the ideal candidate. I-Impact touts its product,
MarketDrive, as a complete platform for developing and executing
reporting and on-line analytic processing (OLAP) solutions. I-Impact
was founded by a team of statisticians and technologists whose vision clearly
foresaw the growth of analytics as an industry and as a market. MarketDrive
has since been used in a myriad of businesses to predict customer behavior and
help them increase the effectiveness of their customer acquisition, retention,
and cross-sell programs.
The MarketDrive platform is an open, integrated, Java-based server which extracts data from any enterprise data source, says Gideon Shalom-Bendor, the founder and chief executive officer of I-Impact. The San Francisco, California (USA) company has focused its predictive modeling product on increasing customer retention and thus lowering churn (the telecommunication industry uses "churn" to describe the turnover of users of a service).
In particular, I-Impact has targeted the banking and the wireless telecommunication industries where customer retention and churn are a key concern. Predictive modeling is a statistical calculation that allows companies to identify their profitable customers and their long term behavior. The objective is to make sure everything is done to keep those customers for a long period. The I-Impact Retention Management System is comprised of the MarketDrive platform and the I-Impact Retention Manager application. The system is a closed loop on-line predictive processing (OLPP) tool that integrates data mining functionality, data management facilities, presentation facilities, administration, and an application framework for visual development of knowledge-based predictive applications. The system strives to reduce the time to action of the predictive process. Gideon states that this is a better way to obtain higher results rather than to focus on improving predictive accuracy.
MarketDrive provides a user-friendly user interface (UI) and application program interface (API) for analysts, users, and application developers that need to deliver such applications.
MarketDrive is built on a client-server model with access to the user interface via a web browser that uses downloadable Java applets. It uses the Microsoft NT/2000/XP server for all other operations.
consist of three main components:
The MarketDrive DataHub
The Analytical and Visualization Engine
The MarketDrive Front End, containing the applets that drive the server-based
Impact Analytics Workbench, Data Drill Down, OLPP browsing, Report Builder,
and Report Viewer
On-line Predictive Processing (OLPP)
With OLPP, I-Impact seems to go beyond the limitations of just OLAP technology by providing a complete development and delivery environment for predictive modeling.
technology includes three major components:
OLPP platform—to support multiple independent model building, learning, and
OLPP applications—support clear and easy management, usage, and distribution
of the predictive information
OLPP integration—integration between the OLPP platform and applications with
the corporate databases and systems
The OLPP platform provides support for XML and extract, transform, and load (ETL) interfaces.
With the Retention Manager, I-Impact aims at centralizing the data integration, the predictive modeling, the building of strategies, and the acting upon of the customer data, all under one roof.
Retention Manager provides an easy-to-use interface including screens that walk managers through processes which is convenient feature for non-technical marketing managers. It is a great support and complement to marketing automation modules allowing marketers to base their decisions on business answers they always lack. The use of OLPP technology offers the possibility to integrate output with operational systems to have real time decision support. The output provides versatility presented on Retention Manager via any web browser or to be integrated into existing CRM or in-house systems.
CRM is not the only application category that could take advantage of I-Impact predictive system. Other back-office applications, especially financial applications, can use it to identify high-risk customers. The software what-if analysis capability offers support to decision makers by softening the burden of their decisions.
More and more, the market is requesting that a CRM or an ERP application include analytics. It is a costly operation to develop such functionality from scratch. Vendors like I-Impact offer packaged application providers the opportunity of a shortcut.