SaskTel fights churn with BI platform

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While they probably wouldn’t want to compare it to a virus, in the nearly 10 years since SaskTel first deployed a business intelligence (BI) platform from Hyperion, the company said its use of the tool has spread into nearly every area of its business.

Along with telephone service, the Saskatchewan-based telco also offers wireless communications, Internet access, television service, home and business security and fleet management services. Gary Calcutta, a business analyst with SaskTel, said they’ve used the platform from Santa Clara, Calif.-based Hyperion more and more over the years, retooling their ideas on how best to implement and deploy it to their users.

He added that user expectations have also evolved over the years. These days, said Calcutta, users expect much more of an extremely easy point and click, dashboard-type of application experience.

“Rather than building queries and reports, they want everything pre-done, they just want to point and click on a Web site and get all their data,” said Calcutta. “We’ve gone that way much more.” The scope of where BI is used within SaskTel has also widened, said Calcutta. Today he said it’s used in every department possible, for everything from reporting and ad hoc querying and analysis to feeding information to data centres and call centres. It’s also used for operational monitoring, and dashboarding is used to develop Web pages for automated report scheduling and distribution.

A key to their success, said Calcutta, has been the regimented standardization of reporting and data sources. Even when you’re only using one reporting tool and the same data, if each department is writing its own reports, you’re still going to come up with different numbers.

That was a problem for SaskTel, said Calcutta, and it’s why they went to a dashboard system, where users go to one spot for all financial numbers. The reports have been pre-approved, they’re written once and maintained centrally so that users don’t need to write them from scratch each time.

“It’s more procedural, but it’s really helped,” said Calcutta. “It eliminated time spent trying to justify the numbers, because everyone knows that one spot is well scrutinized and has the correct numbers.”

One of the biggest benefits for SaskTel, though, has been in addressing one of the largest challenges for telcos: Reducing customer churn. Government regulations specify certain windows where phone companies are allowed to try to win customers back, and Calcutta said SaskTel’s marketing department uses the Hyperion software to help fight that battle.

“The software keeps track and when we’re allowed to call, we call immediately; it’s all fed to a call centre,” said Calcutta. “The sooner you can call, the better the chance of keeping them and winning them.”

Using the Hyperion tools to crunch the numbers, he said SaskTel has seen better success rates when customers are offered a bundle of services, and the Hyperion platform is used to tailor a specialized bundle offer for each customer.

Colin Dover, senior product marketing manager, BI tools with Hyperion, said the company’s Hyperion Performance Suite platform has found particular success in the telecommunications space because ease of use and ease of deployment are key concerns for telcos. They don’t have time for extensive implementations and user training; they need to hit the ground running.

“They’re looking for ease of use, portability of reporting, and typically they’re looking for a very visual indication of what’s happening within their customer base across a very broad set of data,” said Dover. “Ease of use is a big thing.”

Another key differentiator for Hyperion, said Dover, is that they’re the only vendor in the market at the moment offering an offline analysis capability.

“You can take a report offline and move into a mobile environment and go on the road with it,” said Dover. “You can continue to be in touch with the information you need in your role, performing analysis in an ad hoc way without being connected.”

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