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TDWI Best Practices Awards: Recognition for Innovative Data and Analytics Implementations

TDWI Best Practices Awards 2010 Winner Summaries

BI/DW on a Limited Budget

Winner: Seminole Gaming

Seminole Gaming operates seven casinos throughout Florida, including two Hard Rock Hotel and Casinos. The multi-billion dollar company prides itself on controlling costs while achieving ultra-high profit margins. Credited with pioneering Native American gaming in the U.S. in 1979, the company has long been recognized for its innovation in gaming and technology.

Seminole Gaming’s BI/DW solution was developed to deliver superior reporting and analytics to key decision makers within the company on a daily basis. The solution was born out of necessity when a key business user recognized the need for faster, more robust, and more customized reporting and analytics. Consistent with the company philosophy of maintaining high margins, the BI/DW solution was built on a shoestring budget and has allowed Seminole Gaming to enjoy considerable success while maintaining integrity and control over its data with virtually no vendor assistance.

The BI/DW solutions unified the company’s 10 disparate source systems, forming a single reporting platform from which operators could make informed decisions. It also formed the framework for what will soon become a real-time analytics platform accessible to corporate analysts as well as to all the casino operators in the company—a first in the industry.

Seminole Gaming’s solution was built in a short time (just over one year) using few resources: one full-time employee, a few shared FTEs, and $250,000 in hardware expenses. The total cost is less than 0.05 percent of the company’s annual revenues.

Customer Intelligence

Winner: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts

Solution Sponsor: Netezza

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (BCBSMA) provides quality health care coverage to approximately 3 million members. As a non-profit, it is committed to delivering world-class service to its members and to being a good corporate citizen and community partner.

Previously, BCBSMA’s Web interactions had been limited to members logging in to check their health insurance plan benefits and claims history—a passive, static system that failed to engage members in their healthcare. BCBSMA also educated its members about health screenings and wellness programs through generic newsletters, which were rarely read. The challenge was to find a cost-effective mechanism to deliver secure, personalized messages to members. BCBSMA also had several new initiatives to reduce health costs, which depended heavily on an engaged, educated consumer making informed decisions about preventive care, provider networks, and appropriate care sites.

The purpose of the project was to (1) leverage the wealth of information and tools available on the data warehouse to deliver personalization; (2) build a system that was system- and delivery-channel-agnostic; and (3) build a mechanism to measure the efficacy of personalization.

BCBSMA built and deployed an innovative solution that successfully integrated its data warehouse and member Web portal to produce near-real-time personalized messages for its members. The framework is also scalable to handle new data sources, alerts, reminders, and campaigns with minimal coding changes.

Dashboards and Scorecards

Winner: GUESS, Inc.

Solution Sponsor: MicroStrategy

GUESS?, Inc., is a widely recognizable apparel company, with over 1,200 retail stores worldwide that provide a lifestyle collection of apparel and accessories. The enduring strength of the GUESS brand name and image depends on the company’s consistent emphasis on innovative and distinctive product designs that stand for exceptional styling and quality.

In early 2008, GUESS embarked on a project to enable its executives and field personnel to receive critical information on Blackberry devices using MicroStrategy Mobile. Users receive daily mobile scorecards for a comprehensive view of the business. Based on the success of the application in the U.S., the Mobile application was expanded to executives in Asia and U.S. district managers.

Later in the year, GUESS began creating dynamic dashboards to utilize a new, visually compelling, intuitive form of information delivery to provide increased visibility across multiple business areas. Three dashboards were created. Buyers and planners are now able to quickly view and digest product and sales performance, eliminating the need for manual recaps. Finance, merchants, and executives can track daily sales performance and easily drill down to spot pain points. Product designers, merchants, and executives are able to visually analyze the best-selling styles along multiple brands and product categories, giving them a much clearer view of trends.

By introducing dashboards to non-traditional BI users, GUESS has made BI pervasive across its vast user community. The results are intuitive and stylish dashboards that deliver significant information in a graphical way.

Data Governance

Winner: Sallie Mae

Solution Sponsor: DataFlux

Sallie Mae is the nation’s leading provider of programs for saving, planning, and paying for education. Sallie Mae manages $188 billion in education loans and serves 10 million student and parent customers. Through its Upromise affiliates, the company also manages more than $19 billion in college-savings plans and is a major, private source of American college funding contributions, with 11 million members and more than $500 million in member rewards.

The potential business value of data governance (DG) inspired Sallie Mae to launch a DG program, and it has seen tremendous impacts on its business operations. The program’s objective was to “solve boundary-spanning issues by pulling together the pieces of the data puzzle.” Its initial goal was to use horizontal alignment to achieve what is impossible to do in separate, vertical data silos.

Sallie Mae increased revenue by $2.4 million for the first two years based on an estimated increase of $50 million in loan volume. It eliminated costs of $4.8 million by replacing letters/postage with e-mail campaigns. Since the program’s inception, the company has resolved 75 percent of the data issues that have been elevated to the program, and also integrated DG with all of its application development processes. The program is now inextricably linked to the enterprise infrastructure and architecture.

The DG program has paid off both financially and operationally, as it enables Sallie Mae to both save money and make better business decisions.

Enterprise Business Intelligence

Winner: Telenor Pakistan

Solution Sponsor: Teradata Corporation

Telenor Pakistan launched its GSM network in 2005 and became the fastest growing mobile operator in the country. With 23 million subscribers and coverage reaching deep into the most remote areas of Pakistan, Telenor Pakistan is, in some places, the only operator connecting the previously unconnected.

After establishing a robust and integrated EDW, Telenor Pakistan invested much more in commercial BI applications. Before implementing enterprise BI, the company focused on setting up a robust data warehouse, which was being fed by multiple source systems and could provide a 360o customer view. The BI sponsors from top management had always envisioned data warehousing and BI as the strategic platform that can provide a sustainable competitive advantage.

Keeping up with the vision to make BI a strategic partner in key areas, Telenor Pakistan now uses enterprise BI to enable key stakeholders across the organization and to tailor BI solutions to their needs. Initiatives include:

Integration with customer care to enhance customer experience: Behavior-based call center routing and a magic screen project to support up-selling and cross-selling.

  • Location Intelligence implementation on multiple subject areas
  • Analytical models based on advanced data mining for churn prediction and behavioral segmentation
  • Advanced OLAP (BI 2.0), dashboards, business performance management, and forecasting
  • Integration of BI analytics with market research and consumer insights

Enterprise Data Warehousing

Co-winner: Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield

Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield is the largest health insurer in Arkansas. It has two wholly owned subsidiaries that operate more than a dozen affiliates and a charitable foundation.

Arkansas Blue Cross is one of 39 members of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Blue Health Intelligence (BHI), a collaborative effort between 19 participating Blue Plans, is managed by the BHI Project Management Office (PMO) housed in the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Arkansas Blue Cross and other affiliated Blue Plans founded BHI after realizing that they would be better able to meet the reporting needs of large national customer groups by working together.

To remain competitive in local markets, Blue Plans needed a national perspective of its business data. Nineteen sister Blue Plans agreed to aggregate medical and drug claims, membership (54 million lives), and provider information into a centralized data warehouse, complementing rather than replacing individual Blue Plans’ local data warehousing efforts.

The result, BHI, is a health care database built to improve health care benchmarking and national account reporting; provide best practices identification opportunities; and research and manage national health care trends in order to improve Blue Plan member health care, reduce associated health care costs, and refine the viability of Blue Plans on a national basis. The BHI initiative also guards patient privacy, confidentiality, and regional Blue Plan licensee service area restrictions. This enterprise data warehousing initiative demonstrates that partnerships can create a powerful competitive advantage by combining individual Plans’ regional data sets.

Enterprise Data Warehousing

Co-winner: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City

Solution Sponsor: HP

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (Blue KC) is the largest health benefits provider in the greater Kansas City region, serving nearly one million members in 32 counties. Founded in 1938, the not-for-profit health insurer employs approximately 1,000 Kansas City area residents and offers a variety of health and related benefit plans for individuals, families, and employers. Blue KC is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

To maintain its market leadership position in a changing environment, Blue KC brought in Hewlett-Packard BI Solutions to help design and deploy a fully integrated data management architecture. The objective was to turn data into an asset that created a competitive advantage. The resulting solution incorporates data from 45+ sources and provides a single view of vast amounts of information. In addition, a center of excellence was formed that brought technology and business staff together into a single organization accountable for data governance, data stewardship, and program execution.

The solution has enabled efforts that improve member health, enhance operations, and reduce medical and administrative costs. The quantified benefits made possible by this initiative fall into four primary categories—improved data management efficiency (cost avoidance), reduced medical costs, elimination of outsourced health management programs, and increased revenue through customer retention. A conservative estimate quantifies the results at a 332 percent return on investment over a six-year period, with the breakeven point at 20 months into the effort.

Government and Non-Profit

Co-winner: Centerstone Research Institute

The Centerstone Research Institute (CRI) is a private, not-for-profit company dedicated to improving healthcare delivery through the marriage of research and information technology. Based in Tennessee and Indiana, CRI works with the community mental health centers of Centerstone to conduct clinically relevant research and provide high-quality services to more than 70,000 individuals with mental illness. For decades, CRI researchers and affiliated community mental health centers have conducted hundreds of service and clinical studies to secure more than $50 million in federal and private funding. The purpose of CRI’s BI/DW solution was to empower end users, who previously had no access to data, with actionable information to inform their business management and clinical practices.

Like many other community behavioral health providers, Centerstone faces increasing pressure to keep costs down and increase output. In addition, Centerstone has limited financial resources to invest in an enterprise BI solution. The bulk of the data warehouse infrastructure relies on open source technologies (Postgres, Jaspersoft, Pentaho, and KNIME) combined with vendor solutions that add value in targeted areas such as dashboards (Qlikview) and predictive modeling (SAS, SPSS).

End users can now see and explore vital information related to service quality, financial viability, and client outcomes. In addition to operational and management tools, predictive models have been developed to better inform clinical care decisions. Finally, CRI’s low-cost model may help other behavioral healthcare organizations to affordably deploy similar solutions, or CRI’s data warehouse might be extended to provide similar functionality for other healthcare providers.

Government and Non-Profit

Co-winner: Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

Solution Sponsor: MicroStrategy

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was created in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. As a part of the Department of Homeland Security, TSA is responsible for the security of the nation’s highways, railroads, buses, mass transit systems, and airports. Its mission is to protect the nation’s transportation systems by ensuring freedom of movement for people and commerce. TSA is an $8 billion organization with more than 55,000 employees.

The core of TSA’s performance management system is an integrated suite that facilitates the collection of data and information from key operations and programs, and generates and distributes reports and analyses for use by TSA leadership. The latter application is its Performance Information Management System (PIMS).

PIMS is an innovative BI system that leverages MicroStrategy’s 9.x BI technology and the Grant Thornton/IBM team’s integration expertise. The system can collect and track airport operational activities in real time. It also provides access to TSA headquarters and field employees systemwide so they can analyze various security-related activities and anomalies. The system provides event-driven notification to business process owners and supports data quality assurance throughout the system.

PIMS is the “engine” that enables the creation and dissemination of TSA’s operational balanced scorecard, the Management Objective Report (MOR), which leadership uses to set and track performance against aggressive improvement targets. The MOR has contributed over $300 million in operating efficiencies over the last three years.

Operational BI

Co-winner: Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC)

Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC) is BlueCross BlueShield of IL, TX, NM, and OK, a customer-owned health benefits company focused on improving the health and wellness of its members and communities through accessible, cost-effective, quality health care.

HCSC’s Data Movement Integration Hub (DMIH) and Operational Data Store (ODS) solution acquires, integrates, governs, and makes accessible in near real time the operational data that runs the company. This solution supports a business event-driven architecture and high volume/availability application-to-application integration; it supports operational reporting/analytics as well as feeding more strategic solutions such as the enterprise data warehouse (EDW). This solution provides trusted, consistent, and governed operational data to the primary business processes that run the company, and keeps information center stage in operational/strategic decision making.

The importance and success of the EDW crystallized the critical need for the business to have strategic information to make decisions and use within its processes. HCSC realized it had to approach information as a strategic asset outside of the EDW arena. The Enterprise Information Strategy and Management division (EISM) was created to support this view, and several standards and processes were defined as part of a large governance and stewardship effort.

The governance team developed high-level models such as information value chains, business information models, and the enterprise logical data model. However, the cornerstone to implement this vision was a platform capable of providing high-level standardized data consistently and in a timely manner for business operations. The team accomplished this by developing the Data Movement Integration Hub and the Operational Data Store.

Operational BI

Co-winner: Quicken Loans Inc.

Quicken Loans is the nation’s largest online home mortgage lender; it closes loans in all 50 states and is among the country’s 10 largest retail lenders.

At Quicken Loans, real-time BI is a necessity. Today’s economic climate has a great impact on its success. With changing lending guidelines, new products, and fluctuating interest rates, business users must have data at their fingertips quickly. The company’s operational data warehouse is focused on providing visibility to the constantly changing business at Quicken Loans. Its purpose is to provide right-time, actionable data and analysis to a wide range of users around the clock via a centralized BI Web portal called BIG (BI Gateway), key performance indicators (KPIs) and dashboards, and direct access to cubes via ProClarity and Excel.

This operational BI initiative allows users to quickly make highly accurate decisions based on near-real-time reports. Users have learned to expect reports minutes after the data has entered the operational system; the concept of system downtime is unacceptable.

In the past year, Quicken Loans has maintained its position as the number one online lender and witnessed record-breaking loan volumes and strong overall growth. The rock-solid BI/DW platform was critical to the company’s tangible success.

Predictive Analytics

Winner: Advanceit

Solution Sponsor: in2clouds

Advanceit is the first and only Canadian source of merchant cash advances. The company works with approved debit and credit card processors to provide merchants with business financing based on their electronic payment sales, providing small and midsize businesses with a flexible way to grow without impacting cash flow and helping them avoid the difficulties associated with traditional bank loans.

The global financial crisis of 2008–10 created strong demand for Advanceit’s services and products. The company needed to overhaul its sales process to leverage predictive analytics throughout the loan application process and rely less on gut feel and historical reports for approvals. Another goal was to increase sales and underwriting capacity without increasing headcount.

Advanceit created an operational BI system that uses advanced analytics to predict the risk and profit of a business loan application; optimize the risk/profit mix of its loan portfolio; provide real-time scores to prioritize its sales team’s activities; and recommend actions for each application based on its risk/profit score.

Advanceit’s analytics system has reduced the company’s bad debt expense by two-thirds and is on track to achieve an ROI in excess of 5,000 percent. The company has increased underwriting efficiency by 100 percent, cut its risk exposure in half, and increased sales team efficiency by 33 percent—all without adding staff.

Radical BI

Winner: Celestica

Celestica is a US$6.1 billion global leader in the electronics manufacturing services (EMS) industry. Celestica delivers innovative supply chain solutions to leading original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in the enterprise computing, communications, consumer, industrial, green technology, aerospace and defense, and healthcare markets.

EMS companies typically own significant amounts of cross-industry product lifecycle and supply chain data; Celestica recognized the opportunity to leverage this data to help the company and its customers succeed in their markets. Having identified the potential of what business analytics could bring to the company, Celestica launched an ambitious enterprisewide analytics program in early 2009. The objective was to be one of the first companies in the EMS industry to leverage analytics to drive business improvements and to create a competitive advantage for Celestica’s customers and key stakeholders.

The company created a non-traditional, hybrid business analytics center of excellence (COE) that delivers a wide range of business benefits across all core functions at Celestica. Within six months of implementing the center of excellence, Celestica’s analytics program was internally considered a strategic and competitive capability. Within nine months, Celestica had conducted a rapid proof of concept (POC) to drive program buy-in; created a hybrid analytics COE that combines quantitative modeling plus traditional IT talent; implemented SAP BusinessObjects and SPSS Clementine as its core analytics platform; and delivered several analytics projects that generated widespread excitement throughout the company and made significant business impact across all key business areas.

TDWI thanks this year’s panel of expert judges:

  • Barb Wixom, Associate Professor, University of Virginia
  • Claudia Imhoff, President, Intelligent Solutions, Inc.
  • Dan Evans, CBIP, Sr. Group Manager, BI Practice, Avanade, Inc
  • Evan Levy, Partner, Baseline Consulting
  • Hugh Watson, Professor of MIS, University of Georgia
  • Jill Dyché, CBIP, Partner, Baseline Consulting
  • Jim Thomann, Principal Consultant, DecisionPath Consulting
  • John Bair, CTO, LaunchPoint
  • John O’Brien, President, Zukeran Technologies Inc.
  • Jonathan G. Geiger, CBIP, Executive Vice President, Intelligent Solutions, Inc.
  • Justin Manes, Consultant
  • Laura Reeves, Principal, StarSoft Solutions
  • Mark Peco, CBIP, Partner, InQvis
  • Maureen Clarry, President/CEO, CONNECT: The Knowledge Network
  • Mike Lampa, Sr. Manager, Enterprise BI, Dell, Inc.
  • Nancy Williams, CBIP, Vice President, DecisionPath Consulting
  • Patty Haines, President, Chimney Rock Information Solutions
  • Philip Russom, Senior Manager, TDWI Research, TDWI
  • Sid Adelman, Principal, Sid Adelman & Associates
  • Steve Dine, President, Datasource Consulting, LLC
  • Steve Williams, President, DecisionPath Consulting
  • Tony Lopykinski, Managing Principal, Maven Advisors, LLC
  • Wayne Eckerson, Director, TDWI Research, TDWI