ABOUT THE VENDOR
Protagona Worldwide provides marketing solutions that enable organizations to achieve measurable business impact from their marketing activities. The company's flagship product suite, Protagona Ensemble, empowers clients to execute optimized marketing campaigns using multiple channels, including the Web, call centers, direct sales, and traditional direct marketing. Producer plays the lead in Protagona Ensemble, creating a bridge between the company's customer intelligence assets and touch-point applications such as SFA, call centers, and e-commerce. This bridge provides a means to coordinate, optimize, and evaluate the activities of all of the enterprise's touch-point systems.
ABOUT THE CLIENT
Since 1956, companies across America have turned to AGIA for their administrative, marketing and product development needs.
ABOUT THE TECHNOLOGY
Producer is a campaign management software solution and keystone of the Protagona Ensemble Suite. Producer 5.0 has upgraded its core architecture by redesigning the application server, enhancing the SQL engine, and adding enterprise-level security features. Scalability and tuning enhancements will give clients more flexibility and control over the execution of complex marketing campaigns in the production environment.
AGIA was looking for a CRM system to help design and execute direct marketing campaigns, upsell and cross sell
SearchCRM spoke with Jan Wiklund, database marketing manager for AGIA, about the project.
SearchCRM: What were you looking for in a CRM system?
Wiklund: First of all, we wanted the database on-site -- there are some dial-up solutions as well, and we didn't want that. We also wanted the database to reside in a non-proprietary environment such as Oracle, DB2 or what have you.
SearchCRM: Did you look at any other vendors besides Protagona?
Wiklund: We looked at another vendor called Unica that also had a very good solution, and I have to say that it was pretty much a photo finish between the two. We could have gone easily either way. We agonized for a couple of weeks about it, and what it boiled down to was that our IT department thought that Protagona's technology was slightly better.
SearchCRM: How do you use the Protagona system in your day-to-day operations?
Wiklund: We're a third-party administrator; we market insurance products via mail, so we have campaigns go out very often. We hit the database and select some parameters, then we split them up into different [sales] packages and test different copies -- looks of envelopes, text and so on. It's a closed-loop system, so the results are fed back into the database and we can see who responded.
Once we get new customers in the door, we try to upgrade and cross sell them as well. We use the software to pick out the people that are coming up for a new billing so we know what sales pitch we can put on the bill.
SearchCRM: What were the challenges of the implementation?
Wiklund: There were a lot of challenges. We were Protagona's first customer that was using a DB2 database on an AS/400, and it turned out when we installed everything that we could hit the database but the database couldn't write back to the workstations. The software was not compatible with the AS/400, so they needed to rewrite part of the software. It took less than two weeks to diagnose the problem and have the rewritten software, which is really good.
Other than that, most of our problems were in getting enough internal resources to get all the data into tables. In order to get to the data we have in our existing system, we have to copy it from where it's residing into these DB2 tables so we can use Protagona to access the data. It's quite an undertaking to design the database in such a way as to optimize performance, to decide which variables are going to be in which tables...it's a long process.
SearchCRM: How did training go?
Wiklund: We had a two-and-a-half day training session. The software is fairly easy to use once you get the hang of the basic concepts, so after the training session, everybody was proficient in doing basic campaign design and execution. Anybody with limited computer knowledge would be able to do this in a couple of days.
SearchCRM: What was the first campaign you did with the Protagona system?
Wiklund: It was a mailing for the NRA. It went pretty well. At that point the NRA was a new client, so we didn't know very much about their membership -- that was a challenge in itself. We got the mailing out on time and the results were encouraging.
SearchCRM: What are some of the benefits of the Protagona system?
Wiklund: What's good about this system is that updating and maintaining the data ourselves is cheaper than having a vendor prepackage a proprietary database on our behalf. The way it used to work was we got the data from our clients, then we turned around and sent it to a vendor, who passed it through their computers and sent it back to us. It cost 15 to 20 thousand dollars for each update for one client.
We also get more frequent updates -- once we get the data, we update our tables within 24 to 48 hours. Before, it was six to eight weeks before we got the data back. So now it's faster for us to get the data, it's more under our control, and it's cheaper.
SearchCRM: Do you have any advice for companies that are considering a similar project?
Wiklund: Realize that it will probably take longer and cost more than you expect.
Linda Formichelli's writing appeared this year in Woman's Day, Wired, Writer's Digest, Family Circle, Psychology Today. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or check out her Web site http://www.twowriters.net
This was first published in August 2001