Databank Integrated Solutions by Portfolio Communications
Company: Sybase Customer: Databank Integrated Solutions Submitted by: Portfolio CommunicationsSQL Anywhere Studio from iAnywhere Solutions, a Sybase company, and Sybase’s PowerBuilder have played a key role in the creation and development of a world class Customer Relationship Management solution designed by Databank Integrated Solutions. The CRM application, PROSPECT gives companies the customer intelligence they need to achieve improved customer service, increased customer retention and higher profitability.
MIS Corporate Defence Solutions, a pioneer in the specialist IT security arena, has now deployed the Sybase-based solution from DBS to enhance customer loyalty and help generate new business.
Established six years ago as a value-added reseller of accounting systems, Databank Integrated Solutions is a leading business-productivity solutions developer. The company was committed to developing a powerful but rapidly deployable solution for Customer Relationship Management (CRM) for the marketplace.A key requirement for the solution was the rapid build of a powerful, reliable system that would provide all authorised users with instant access to customer-related data, whatever the source and wherever it was held in an enterprise worldwide. The solution was required within three months.
Databank chose Sybase as its development environment, along with SQL Anywhere, iAnywhere Solution’s small-footprint database, which enables the design and delivery of corporate information to workgroup, mobile, and embedded database systems.
According to Andrew Ardron, the Databank director who led the project, the Sybase solution was selected for ease and speed of development, and its ability to assure robust performance in the end product. Another major factor was that Sybase is, according to Ardron, “the undisputed king of database solutions.”Databank also valued PowerBuilder’s data window for robust database retrieval and updates. Ardron explains: “This means you are not writing the database from scratch; you are using the window which has all the functionality built in. It’s quicker, it’s simpler, and less prone to errors or bugs.
“Other key reasons for Sybase PowerBuilder selection were overall product performance, multi-platform capability and the fact that it is fully object-oriented. “We could compile to native code and get significantly better performance than with other competitive approaches, such as Visual Basic,” says Ardron. “The fully object-oriented functionality helped rapid development, and was a major positive factor in subsequent product redevelopment and expansion.”Talking about SQL Anywhere, Ardron lists as key benefits such features a multi-site replication, multi-platform functionality and ease of use without the need for large IT departments on every site.As a result of these advantages, the Sybase solutions enabled Databank to increase its speed to market with a CRM solution. “Essentially, it enabled us to provide new functionality in a quick-to-deploy CRM solution that made the best use of new technologies available, without compromising quality or reliability,” says Ardron.
The bespoke solution was completed on time – within the three-month target – and quickly began to deliver impressive improvements in customer management.
MIS Corporate Defence Solutions adopts PROSPECT
MIS Corporate Defence Solutions of Maidstone has now become a major user of Databank’s PROSPECT application. MIS specialises in leading-edge business systems, IT security products and services, BS7799 security compliance, business continuity and disaster recovery, data protection and encryption, military systems defence and computer fraud.PROSPECT enables any department of an organisation – sales, marketing, support, customer service and financial – to have instant authorised access to any and all corporate data. “The essence is to be able to draw together all the information held on customers so that whoever is talking to them, there is an overall picture of that customer’s dealings with us,” says MIS Technical Director, Wayne Sowery.
He continues: “Through PROSPECT’s single interface, the user can now view customer service and sales issues, quotations, letters and accounting information – wherever they are held within the organisation. Such contact may be face-to-face with mobile sales or service staff, on the phone, or by letter, fax or e-mail.”The modular structure of the system has been designed to meet the different needs of different users – with stand-alone or in any combination modules available. Such modules include sales tracking, document management, quotations, problem tracking, service helpdesk and advanced report writer.The system has been designed to run in client/server environment, with the Sybase database engine running on a server and a PowerBuilder front-end on the client PC, sharing the workload between the PC and the server and delivering very high reliability.
“The combination of Sybase’s technology and Databank?s expertise has provided MIS with a robust and fully functional CRM solution. As a result of implementing PROSPECT, MIS has been able to manage its customer information more effectively than ever before,” comments Sowery.
Coping with Growth
As MIS’s business operations grew, its expansion worldwide raised a number of IT issues. This affected PROSPECT, which was being rolled out to international offices under a “hub-and-spoke” philosophy that centralized management under the company’s head office in Maidstone.”Accessing a central database across a Virtual Private Network was not practical,” says Sowery, “because our Internet connection speeds were too slow.
” Instead, MIS elected to maintain a local replica of the database at each office, using replication.Replication enables multiple copies of the corporate database to be held at diverse locations on multiple platforms under different operating systems. These copies can update each other to keep the data in synch across a worldwide enterprise – on multiple servers, individual PCs, laptops and handheld devices. As an international enterprise, with data in different countries, MIS needed to allow personnel across the world to conduct their business with close reference to a common corporate database. This also ensured that senior management in the UK could keep a close eye on what was happening in the organization anywhere in the world.
Working with Linux
MIS also evaluated the adoption of Linux as the preferred operating system for their Sybase-based CRM solution. For about half the cost of a like-for-like NT solution, the company discovered it could run the solution under Linux.Linux benefits included increased flexibility of remote administration, lower cost of ownership and greater configurability than Windows NT. MIS found that it could be made more secure than NT and as a server platform provided higher Unix security – significant issues for a company specialising in the area of IT security. The fact that iAnywhere Solutions had a version of SQL Server Anywhere available for Linux meant that MIS could take advantage of these benefits.
The results since PROSPECT was rolled out to the whole of MIS’s operation have been extremely impressive.”Since we implemented PROSPECT just under two years ago we have used it throughout the organisation to manage the influx of leads from numerous sources,” comments Sowery. The company generates around 2,000 new leads each month which are added to the database from industry exhibitions, events, seminars, newsletter responses and white paper “issue” documents. A sales team of 20 people uses PROSPECT on a regular basis, adding up to 100 new contacts each day.”PROSPECT handles a high volume operation – over 15,000 contacts – efficiently and reliably,” says Sowery. “We don’t have to share e-mails between departments and everyone uses the database as a single, central point of communication.
“MIS now enjoys a significantly higher level of customer and prospect contact continuity, with higher quality and faster response to queries. A feature of the system is automatic flagging of required action, with “call this or that person” popping up on user screens first thing in the morning in response to queries forwarded by others throughout the MIS organisation. The system has also provided a true paperless environment. “We’re better aware of customer issues, better able to maintain quotes and proposals, and better positioned to provide higher quality customer service,” says Sowery.MIS has also reduced its management supervision overhead, cut costs generally and inculcated a stronger spirit of personal initiative and responsibility. Another key benefit is improved security, because outside the MIS LAN, nobody can copy the database.”The bottom line is that Databank’s PROSPECT and the underlying Sybase/iAnywhere Solutions technology have provided a stable and reliable platform for keeping existing customers more effectively and generating new business,” Sowery concludes.