Preparing to implement a revamped customer contact strategy, a Fortune 100 Property and Casualty Insurer needed a new solution for delivering real-time reporting. An assessment by Covalent Marketing showed the following areas first needed to be addressed:
Inadequately designed Marketing Resource Management templates
Improper data collection
A process of manually built and updated reports
Proper storage and distribution of reports across the organization
The client had used HCL's Unica Plan as their primary system for gathering marketing campaign requirements. Unfortunately, the Plan project templates being used were over customized and did not support the data quality needed for effective reporting. It was particularly troublesome when it came to “Date” data types; the client wanted the flexibility to enter multiple dates while also being able to add notes to each date individually. Much of the downstream reporting was done manually by a single resource using Excel. This dedicated resource collected and maintained marketing campaign data for building static list reports that were eventually emailed to stakeholders. This methodology for report distribution was not sustainable because outside of the aforementioned resource, there was no reliable way for management to locate the most up-to-date reports to the organization.
In order to correct the data quality issue within the Plan project templates, text attributes were removed and replaced with a “Grid” attribute. Grid attributes, resembling an Excel spreadsheet, allow users to enter multiple dates while also enabling them to enter comments within the same row. By leveraging this lesser known function within the project template, data is now stored with the appropriate data type and easily queried from the database.
As is the norm within many large companies, the client owned licenses to several Business Intelligence tools. Since automation and end-user experience were priorities in this case, Tableau was selected as the tool for producing and sharing reports. Tableau’s ability to connect to and merge data from a seemingly endless list of data sources, as well as its ability to portray data in a manner that is logical and user friendly immediately grasped the client’s attention. Fortunately, they already had an operational instance of Tableau Server; therefore, leveraging this software solution was simple and immediate.
Covalent Marketing redesigned and released a subset of operational marketing reports leveraging Tableau. Instead of replicating the series of legacy list reports, they were redesigned as visualizations, combining bar charts, heat maps, and other Tableau elements to display the data in multiple ways. In the interest of performance, large datasets are stored natively on Tableau Server and placed on a schedule to refresh as necessary using a Tableau Data Extract. Reports leveraging smaller data sets connect live to the database returning real-time data that is instantly reflected in the reports. Since the client did not have the SMTP server on Tableau Server enabled, we created a custom UNIX script to automatically generate and send report links to key stakeholders.
Altering the data entry fields of project templates within Unica Plan immediately proved instrumental in the development of downstream reporting. The client is now better positioned to manage key dates within their campaigns and make sure deadlines are being met. Additionally, by leveraging a functionality that collects data through a user interface (i.e. automation), the opportunity for user error is substantially reduced.
Switching from heavy reliance on Excel to a Business Intelligence platform immediately decreased both the time and resources required to produce effective reporting. The ongoing legacy process was replaced by a one-time design and build within Tableau. Once visualizations are published to Tableau Server, updates and distribution become a self-sustaining process, freeing up resources to focus on other key work streams.
Leveraging Tableau not only improves the time and resource utilization when building reports, but it also provides the following benefits:
Evolves static reports into eye-capturing visualizations that enable data discovery
Tableau Server acts as a central repository for users to locate up-to-date reports
Users can dynamically shift results in real time, filtering to the information that is most relevant to their needs
Tableau Server security settings limit the exposure of sensitive information