Analysis: What do customers want?

Getting to know the finance, alcohol and power needs of households would seem fairly important in the scheme of things, and IT investment in these areas has helped a trio of companies into the finals of the Computerworld Excellence Awards.

Getting to know the finance, alcohol and power needs of households would seem fairly important in the scheme of things, and IT investment in these areas has helped a trio of companies into the finals of the Computerworld Excellence Awards.

A brewery, a bank and an electricity retailer comprise the finalists in the “Excellence in the use of IT for decision management” category.

DB Breweries won itself a place for its entry, MAMS (mobile account management system), based on the Visual Elk and Panorama products of customer management software provider StayinFront.

MAMS was introduced to DB in 1998. Sales and marketing business information manager Gary Braid says in the highly competitive liquor industry, the challenge is to create value for DB and its customers. “MAMS has enabled us to segment the market and capture the information about our customers and their customers, the consumers. It gives us a flexible model to allocate resources.”

DB has also used MAMS to gain qualitative measures of performance for sales teams. “What we needed was a way to measure key performance indicators.”

MAMS enabled the company to get that information, “put it in the system and make it available to the whole company, including marketing, customer service and sales and get it collated”.

New Zealand’s geography doesn’t make it the easiest place around which to distribute goods and Braid says MAMS has allowed the strategic and field sales sides of the company to work together. MAMS also allows DB to create new solutions rapidly rather than requiring an off-the-shelf package.

The second finalist, the Bank of New Zealand, earned its place on the finalist list for BNZ.MarketView, which allows users to access data culled from the BNZ’s own payment transaction records and census and geographical data, thus yielding valuable information about Eftpos and credit card spending by customers.

The BNZ Card Centre records all credit card and Eftpos transactions by BNZ merchants and data is merged with BNZ customer data to amass spending details. Any traces of customer identification are eliminated before the data is merged with information from Statistics New Zealand and other sources. The finished product is then stored in a database where it is dynamically summarised on demand by scripts running on a web server. It is presented via a standard web browser using a Java applet for graphing.

MarketView was developed by the BNZ and MarketView, a Wellington-based firm which helps organisations extract such information.

Electricity retailer Vector’s entry involves the overhaul of its IT system to introduce a geographic information system (GIS), a move network development general manager Simon Mackenzie says “turned the way we run the network on its head in order to take customer focus into account”.

GIS encompasses decision support tools that analyse information spatially.

Implementing GIS involved integrating the customer, network and financial management into one network management system. Mackenzie likens the result to the old saying about a picture being worth a thousand words.

“The picture we now have is worth 1000 spreadsheets.”

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