Wolters Kluwer boosts efficiency with SAS business intelligence

In November last year, business publisher and advisory service Wolters Kluwer piloted a business intelligence system from SAS to consolidate the view of its customers and improve the return on its marketing and sales campaigns.

In November last year, business publisher and advisory service Wolters Kluwer piloted a business intelligence system from SAS to consolidate the view of its customers and improve the return on its marketing and sales campaigns.

In just seven weeks, SAS was able to build a consolidated customer view, which was used to run several successful marketing campaigns. The best results were seen in the tax and finance divisions, where one of the campaigns returned three times the expected revenue target. Other campaigns aimed at setting appointments for field sales also yielded much improved results with the call success rate increasing by 30%. All of this was attributed to improved targeting and campaign management.

Wolters Kluwer UK provides legal publications and services to businesses to help them comply with tax and governance laws. The company has annual revenues of £2.6bn, and employs about 18,400 people worldwide with operations across Europe, North America, and Asia Pacific.

To gain a more accurate view of its interaction with clients, the firm worked with SAS to build what it calls a "customer management framework" based on the SAS Enterprise Intelligence Platform. It draws data from more than 50 sales and marketing systems including the publisher's main SAP system as well as its CRM system from GoldMine software.

With direct access to the SAP data structure, the SAS Enterprise Intelligence Platform could draw most of the data it needed directly from the source. The system also has direct access to other common databases such as Oracle and IBM's DB2 through the application programming interface, open database connectivity or SQL scripting.

Because SAS had direct access to the SAP data structures, there was practically no drop in the performance of core SAP systems while the data extraction took place, says Steven Georgiadis, head of customer intelligence with SAS. "We sucked more than a million records from the SAP system in Germany in not much more than an hour, but the SAP administrators said their was very little impact at their end."

Data was treated and formatted using the SAS data-quality address system and address-management tools from QAS, an Experian company. Georgiadis says that this automates the process of bringing data into a standard format. "There are many different ways of expressing the same information, for example something as simple as a business address can be written in many different forms."

One advantage of the SAS approach to this process is that the metadata, which describes the data structure, is captured and documented throughout the data integration and transformation process. This later helps speed access to information by automating and simplifying the most common data-access tasks when building new business-intelligence applications based on the same information sources.

Using the SAS tools, Wolters Kluwer created a coherent view of all its customer interactions within a single Oracle-based data warehouse. Marketing and promotions users were then able to scrutinise this data from a number of different "views". This included being able to search by period of time, product type or geography to test the how effective marketing campaigns had been and help design future campaigns with more knowledge of success factors.

The end-user graphic interface is presented through a web browser, so there is no need to load software on the user's desktop. This helped the business deploy the initial pilot phase of the project within seven weeks, in a process akin to rapid application development, Georgiadis says.

From the outset, the project looked for measurable business benefits including increased revenue, reduced costs of marketing investment and improved market share as a result of campaigns.

The results from the pilot programme were dramatic. Retention rates have improved and are now fully measurable across all aspects of the business. For example, at CCH, a Wolters Kluwer company that provides tax and business law information, customer retention has improved from 75% to 83% since the introduce of the SAS business intelligence system. Efficiency has improved as well: return on marketing spending is up threefold.

Meanwhile, conversion rates on sales calls have also improved since calls are now based on better information using the system. Conversion of sales calls to speaking to a decision-maker has improved from one in 33 to one in 11, and converting that conversation into a sale has improved from one in 12 to one in eight.

Mike Turner, business systems manager at Wolters Kluwer, says, "We needed to address the way in which we engaged with our customers to ensure that we were maximising the relationship we have with them. A partnership with SAS has enabled us to take the first steps towards the greater understanding we need in the provision of products and services to that client base."

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