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Tuesday, 13 April 2010 17:39

Telstra wins global gong for its business smarts


Smart Alecs who suggest that putting the words business intelligence and Telstra in the same sentence is oxymoronic have been proved wrong, with the telecommunications giant taking out an international gong for its business analytics.

In February the organisation deployed a new business intelligence system which has cut the time taken to analyse information - in some cases from 11 hours to 10 seconds. The environment is designed to provide call centre operators and marketers with much richer information about customer behaviours.

According to Sandra Hogan, Telstra's director of customer intelligence, the new analytical environment can access data stored on Telstra's Teradata warehouse, and her team has 25 terabytes of space allotted to it. As part of the upgrade Telstra has become the first Australian organisation to deploy the SAS 9.2 Enterprise Intelligence Platform.

Telstra uses the SAS tools to perform predictive modelling, and analyse demographics and usage patterns in order to determine which of its packages and offerings best suit particular customers.

Speaking to iTWire from Seattle, where the SAS Enterprise Excellence Awards were hosted, Hogan said she had a team of 22 people, most of whom were statisticians, driving the project.

The business case for the new business intelligence environment project hinges on achieving a 15 per cent improvement on the uptake of Telstra campaigns which were offered to customers. That should in turn improve customer retention rates according to Hogan.

The migration to the new analytics environment in February has dramatically reduced the time take to analyse data - from 11 hours in some cases, down to 10 seconds. Hogan explained that not all analysis needed to be performed near real-time - for example customers' use of their mobile plans could be analysed at a more leisurely pace.

However in some cases, it was important to analyse data quickly and regularly. For example in order to reduce the likelihood of customer churn, customer usage data was analysed in some cases on a weekly basis in order to try to avoid losing key customers.

Although the company has a 20 year history of using SAS business analytics, Hogan explained that to date the effort had been concentrated on supporting CRM and marketing, and that 'we do not do any executive level reporting.'

Nevertheless, Kate McKenzie, Telstra's chief marketing officer and a rising star in the organisation, was on hand to join Hogan in accepting the SAS Enterprise Excellence Award.

In a release issued today SAS co-founder and CEO Dr Jim Goodnight said that; 'Telstra was selected because it displays all the characteristics that distinguish winners of this award.  You act swiftly to address challenges, use technology in innovative ways to solve business problems, and focus on meeting the needs of your customers'. 

According to McKenzie; 'This initiative is a key plank in our ongoing commitment to improving the service we give our customers.  It is perfecting the science behind our marketing offers and is part of our continuous refinement of Telstra's market based management approach.

'Our customers' time is precious and they want value for money.  With the new system, we are able to better understand how our customers are using their telecommunications services, assess their needs more quickly, and offer the most appropriate products to suit them.  All of which, of course, adds up to an improved customer experience.'

The other four international winners of the SAS gongs were UK-based Lloyds Banking Group, Canada Post and GE Rail Services of the US.

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