First Coffee for 18 May 2006: CRM and BI At SAS's Geneva Get-Together, Lagan's 3-1-1 CRM in Hartford, High-Tech San Fran Hiring Again

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David Sims
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First Coffee for 18 May 2006: CRM and BI At SAS's Geneva Get-Together, Lagan's 3-1-1 CRM in Hartford, High-Tech San Fran Hiring Again

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Tony Bennett’s “Mood Indigo:”

European marketers do use business intelligence in hopes of better performance and return on investment from their strategies, according to a survey of executives at 350 companies in seven countries and across four industries.

The top benefit, according to the survey’s findings, is “being able to optimize customer communications,” followed by “generating action-ready insight based on customer value metrics.”

“Marketing leaders use BI… across the EMEA region, and across the industries examined, BI helps marketing divisions align themselves with business strategy,” said Phil Winters, Vice President of Customer Intelligence at SAS, who sponsored the study.

The study was carried out by IDC’s CMO Advisory Research area, examined marketing’s use of BI tools for improving planning and execution and how BI can lead to better organizational performance.

Two trends were identified in this process: the proliferation of more niche segments, and the fragmentation of media and content – and thus the channels – to reach the intended audiences.

“What we find remarkable is that marketing organizations that use BI tools show a 16 percent higher ability to provide insight into customer needs and are more effective in predicting customer behavior by 24 percent than those who don’t,” said Winters.

“A marketing organization’s effectiveness is directly impacted by its ability to use customer/market insight through the usage and benefits of BI applications,” said Rich Vancil, Vice President of CMO Advisory Research, IDC. He noted that one-third of the study's participants use customer and market insight, including “prediction of customer behavior,” to achieve greater effectiveness in customer retention, acquisition of new customers, revenue growth and market share expansion.

SAS commissioned IDC Research to conduct the research in Germany, Italy, France, The Netherlands, Poland, UK and Denmark across the retail, telecommunications, manufacturing, and financial services industries. A white paper sponsored by SAS was written by IDC summarizing the results of the survey. The white paper is available as a free download at

There’s more news at the SAS Forum International in Geneva, which wraps up today. One the folks at SAS are particularly fond of is the study showing that organizations that deploy complete business intelligence platforms “show lower total cost of ownership” than those that use products from multiple vendors.

At least that’s the conclusion put forth in a study conducted by the HEC School of Management in Paris, researching costs of implementing a BI product.  

The TCO concept involves costs related to the acquisition of a BI product, but also its deployment and the ongoing use. Responses come from executives at 109 companies who deployed at least one BI product from Business Objects, Cognos, SAP or SAS. 

“When evaluating vendor offerings, it is important that organizations take initial software costs into consideration, but also the costs for maintaining and operating a product, such as incremental consulting charges, the functionalities of each vendor’s platform and their ability to scale,” explained Professor Jean Loup Ardoin, who provided academic guidance to the MBA students who conducted the survey.

This study also validates earlier research conducted by a team of students enrolled in the MBA program of Said Business School, University of Oxford. The results of this study were announced at the beginning of the year. 

“The study endorses our strategy of offering an end-to-end and fully integrated BI platform to lower total cost of ownership,” said Tonny Dierckx, Practice Head of Manufacturing at SAS International. “The average enterprise probably has 12 or more different business intelligence tools deployed to address specific requirements of various departments. This leads to duplication of spending and support.”

Finally, SAS and Sun Microsystems, Inc. have announced what officials from both companies claim is a new world-record benchmark for the extraction, transformation and loading of massive volumes of data into a data warehouse with the recently released SAS Enterprise Data Integration Server.

The results show that the SAS engine on Sun SPARC processor-based servers can, company officials claim, “outperform any other vendor’s tools by more than 250 percent in throughput testing,” based on published results. 

Using a Sun Microsystems Sun Fire E25K domainable server running UltraSPARC IV+ processors (dual-core CPU), the Solaris 10 operating system and Sun StorEdge SAM-FS/QFS shared file system, SAS demonstrated the performance of SAS Enterprise Data Integration Server when used for ETL through the completion of a test involving the throughput of 3.9 terabyte (trillion bytes) in one hour, representing 81.2 GB/Hour/CPU – a world record based on published benchmarks. 

Are good times ready to roll again? More CEOs are planning to hire Bay Area workers than anytime since the dot-com bust in 2001, according to the quarterly Bay Area Business Confidence Survey conducted by the Bay Area Council.

Of the 512 CEOs and top executives surveyed between April 13-26, 2006, 43 percent plan to increase their Bay Area workforce in the next six months, only eight percent plan reductions, and 48 percent will maintain current levels.

Bay Area Starbucks might be looking to hire more baristas soon, in other words.

As a matter of fact, the problem CEOs and other execs in the survey are having is finding new employees in the nine-counties, and an even harder time attracting them from outside the region due to the cost of housing. Only 18 percent of respondents say it is easy to find qualified candidates for jobs at their company in the Bay Area, versus 53 percent who say it is difficult.

In a sign that competition for employees is increasing, 42 percent of CEOs and top executives report it is more challenging now to find qualified candidates than 12 months ago. Just five percent say it is easier. In terms of attracting workers from outside the region, the cost of housing in the Bay Area has made it "very difficult" according to 62 percent of respondents.

"It's clearly a bull market for job seekers in the Bay Area," said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. "It's about time. Four-and-a-half years since the national recession officially ended, the Bay Area is still about 335,000 jobs short of where it was when the recession began."

Citizen relationship management vendor Lagan, who sells 3-1-1 products for public sector organizations, has announced it will provide its Frontlink product to the City of Hartford, Connecticut.

Hartford will be the fourth city in the U.S. to implement Lagan's citizen relationship management software platform to maximize city services, following Hampton, Va., Minneapolis, Minn. and Yonkers, N.Y.

Lagan's CRM product supports a city's existing call center by offering support in the form of a database. When a citizen calls with a complaint, their concern is logged into the system, much like a business CRM, it is tracked and the citizen is subsequently contacted when the issue has been resolved.

Cities around the country are setting up 3-1-1 call centers to provide their citizens with assistance to non-emergency issues, keeping the city's emergency 9-1-1 line open for critical matters. In addition to the Lagan clients mentioned above, Chicago, Dallas and Albuquerque, among others, have debuted 3-1-1 systems to generally successful receptions.

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