Commentary by Bruce Hoffman, Manager of Business Intelligence and Data Management, Kelley Blue Book
Kelley Blue Book analyzes and publishes data on new and used vehicles. Large automotive manufacturers, as well as individual car and truck buyers, use the Kelley Blue Book Web site to find in-depth pricing information. The company gathers data from Web site visits to create trend reports for manufacturers. However, the reportgeneration process was time-consuming, and employees were not able to effectively analyze all the data.
In 2006, Kelley Blue Book implemented a solution based on Microsoft business intelligence technologies. With its new analytical capabilities, Kelley Blue Book has improved sales staff efficiency and created a compelling new Web analytics product that can provide its business customers with more targeted data for their marketing efforts. The company expects to see its customer base and revenues grow in response.
Kelley Blue Book provides vehicle buyers and sellers with comprehensive information on new and used cars and trucks. The company, which currently has 400 employees, publishes up-to-date vehicle pricing and values through its Web site, kbb.com. “We receive about 12 million unique visitors each month on the site,” says Bruce Hoffman, manager of business intelligence and data management, Kelley Blue Book.
The company uses specific information gathered from these online visits to generate reports that it presents to automotive manufacturers. However, Kelley Blue Book had struggled to put the information into a form its customers could easily use to predict buyer trends. Even though that data had the potential to be useful, there was too much of it for manufacturers to make sense of. “It was impossible to tell a meaningful story with the data,” says Hoffman. “Our marketing team had all this great information, but they didn’t have a way to package and sell it. They lacked a good software tool to make that happen.”
In January 2006, a Kelley Blue Book employee alerted Hoffman to Microsoft Business Intelligence, a set of fully integrated business intelligence technologies that can help reduce the complexity of organizing and distributing information. The new solution, which the company implemented that same month, gives the Kelley Blue Book analytics team the ability to quickly and easily collect targeted data on automotive sales and trends. It includes Microsoft SQL Server 2005, Microsoft Office Excel 2003, and Office PerformancePoint Server 2007 business intelligence software.
Now, Kelley Blue Book employees can import more than 100,000 rows of Microsoft Office Excel 2003 data from the Web site into a SQL Server 2005 database each day. From there, SQL Server 2005 Integration Services moves that data into an online analytical processing (OLAP) cube, which is an arrangement of data in arrays to allow for quick analysis. The cube is viewed using PerformancePoint Server 2007 and is delivered to sales representatives via a dashboard server.
Using these business intelligence products, the analytics team can analyze data about shoppers who are looking for new vehicles.
Kelley Blue Book now has a business intelligence solution that integrates fully with its existing IT environment, an advantage that helped the company deploy a new Web analytics sales report product, called Market Watch, in a short amount of time. With the solution, Kelley Blue Book has reduced the time it takes sales staff to create reports, has gained more in-depth analytical capabilities, and can better assist business customers with targeting their own marketing efforts. Also, because it expects its customer base to grow, the company anticipates its revenues to rise. Other advantages include: full integration with existing environment; short deployment time for new sales product; increased efficiency for sales staff; improved analytical capabilities; and more targeted marketing for business customers
Also, because Kelley Blue Book is better able to help its customers with such information, it anticipates that its base of customers using Market Watch will grow. “Our research revenues are expected to double in 2007, compared to 2006. We saw we had a unique revenue opportunity, and this solution allowed us to address that,” says Hoffman.