Each year, our sister publication Computer Dealer News hosts the Channel Elite Awards to recognize IT Solution Provider for their innovation, leadership, and commitment for creating value for their customers. As Canada’s leading IT channel publication, CDN invited solution providers to submit their best work to nine different categories for 2013’s awards. Here, we present the case studies these award nominees put forward to us. Find out who the big winners are on Sept. 11 when CDN presents them at the CEA Awards Gala.

Learn more about CDN’s Channel Elite Awards 2013

Nominee: Ideaca from Calgary, Alberta

Describe the solution, service or initiative
One client partnered with Ideaca because they needed a reliable and robust solution to move processes off paper and on to their website. The client, a privately owned, independent investment counselor, wanted to continue to grow their business, but recognized that their systems were not efficient and did not maximize customer accessibility and satisfaction. Previously they were sending monthly, quarterly and yearly transactional data through the mail, and only 10 users could access their account information at once. Considering the client manages in excess of $10.5 billion in assets for both individual and institutional investors, their statement and transactional data systems were very outdated and limited their growth. They needed to transition to a multifaceted online system that would reduce the cost and time associated with sending out statements by mail, and allow for hundreds of users to be accessing their information simultaneously. Ideaca implemented a very successful solution using Microsoft SharePoint to serve Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) reports to their clients. The solution allows for each client to have their own secured site that contains a growing document library of monthly, quarterly and annual statements along with graphical reports pulled from SQL server. The SharePoint site is held in an external domain that communicates with SQL server which is resides in an internal domain. The SQL server is populated with web reporting data daily through a process that encompasses the use of SSIS packages that transfer the data from an internal data warehouse. Since the completion of the solution, the client has seen many tremendous benefits. Their customers are now able to obtain their information online at any time, even if other users are using the system. More than 500 customers can be logged in at once with limited impact on site performance. As well, customer statements are now distributed and stored online. The client no longer has to deal with lost or delayed mail, or the huge amount of paper they were once going through. Customers and client’s employees can generate a variety of different reports, and these reports (or portions of the reports) can be made available to necessary third parties such as financial advisors. Finally, the benefits above are made possible by both an automated daily data refresh, and an optional, ad-hoc refresh process that ensures accurate information is always available. Ideaca’s solution for the client has helped them improve customer satisfaction and better prepare for the future.

What makes it original or innovative?
The solution that Ideaca provided to the client and their customers was innovative because it transformed the client’s business in a multifaceted and comprehensive way. The client recognized that they wanted to move their processes off of paper and onto the internet but were unsure how to proceed. Ideaca took the time to understand their challenge and develop a solution that integrated their existing culture and systems with Microsoft SharePoint and SQL server. Without having comprehensive knowledge of both Microsoft technologies and the client’s culture, a solution like this would not have been possible. In brief, this solution was completely customized for the client and created from the ground up by Ideaca. This makes it innovative because Ideaca’s project team had created a solution completely unique to the client’s situation, timeline and budget. To fully understand the innovation and benefits behind this solution please refer to the customer quote below: Sonia Maloney, Director of Investment Operations at the client said of the solution, “The SharePoint portal solution enabled us to provide our customers 7:00am access to their portfolio information, as well as controlled access by interested third parties that may need the information. This has helped us both significantly improve client satisfaction with online reporting, and reduce manual setup effort.”

Describe the improvement this solution made to the customer’s sales or revenues and provide measurable evidence of such.
While there are no specific metrics on revenue, sales or cost savings available, the client saw improvements in non-measurable benefits such as customer satisfaction. This solution was focused on customer experience and ensuring that customers never feel inconvenienced by the client’s offerings. Previously, only 10 customers could be logged onto their website at once. Now more than 500 people are able to log in and view their account information. This change has improved the experience for the client’s customers who no longer have to wait and refresh the page hoping to log in. Before the solution, customers would only receive their account information through the mail at predetermined intervals. Now customers can access this information any time and even produce reports. These customer experience improvements cannot be measured by specific metrics, but they can be measured by the improvements the client has seen in customer satisfaction.

Describe the improvement that was made to the customers efficiency, with measurable evidence.
This solution was highly efficiency focused. The client wanted to streamline and improve the way their clients accessed and received their statements and realized an improved website and online access was the most efficient way to do this. Specifically, the following efficiency improvements were made: • Prior to the solution there was no way for customers to access their monthly, quarterly and annual statements online and they would have to wait for them to be mailed. Now customers can view their information online at any time. This increased efficiency for their customers because they now have access to their information any time, and increased efficiency for the client who can push data online instead of printing and mailing data. • Previously, the online information that they did provide was only accessible to a maximum of 10 users at one time. Now more than 500 can access the information simultaneously. This improves efficiency because the client’s customers no longer have to wait and refresh constantly with hopes to gain access, rather they can likely visit the site at any time. • Perhaps the most significant improvement to efficiency is the changes in the way the client produced reports. Prior to partnering with Ideaca, their internal transaction system worked independently to their web reporting. This means information had to be inputted into two different places with each change. Not only did this increase the risk of mistakes being made, but it also took up time and resources. As well, dynamic and interactive reporting was not available or updated. The client now has a reporting system that is linked to their web reporting and is refreshed daily. As well, customers and the client’s employees can now view a variety of reports that can be generated at their convenience.

How did the solution improve the customer’s ability to serve internal or external clients?
Ideaca’s solution for the client was focused on improving the client experience. The following were some of the ways the client experience was improved through Ideaca’s solution: More than 500 users can now simultaneously connect to the client’s site, compared to the 10 that were able to before. This has greatly improved their client experience because they no longer have to wait for access to the site, but they can access it almost any time they wish to. The client’s web reporting is now linked to their internal transaction system and is refreshed daily via an automated process. This means that fewer mistakes will be made and user’s information will be updated every day. their client data being accurate and up to date is crucial to a positive client experience. Clients used to have to wait for their monthly, quarterly and annual statements to come in the mail. With inconsistencies in the mailing system, this sometimes meant they would arrive late or not arrive at all. Further, clients did not have the freedom to check their statements when they want and would instead have to wait for the mail. Now clients can access their information online at any time. This has improved the customer experience drastically. Clients can now generate a variety of interactive and user friendly reports that they previously were unable to.

In what ways does the solution go above and beyond industry expectations?
The client’s values their customers and wants to make sure they have a positive experience when dealing with the client. Ideaca shares similar values and when brought together, the two companies were able to develop a solution that greatly improves the client’s customer experience. This solution goes above and beyond industry norms and expectations because it takes a customer-centric approach. The client was successful prior to improving their online services, but the implementation improves their customer’s experiences. By focusing on the customer and making changes that benefit them, the client and Ideaca developed a solution that goes above and beyond and is truly customer focused.

How does the solution further your customer’s green or environmentally friendly plans?
Previous to this solution, the client was sending out statements about hundreds of accounts each month, quarter and year. This resulted in thousands of paper and envelopes being used to send information. While many of their clients would keep their statements or recycle them once completed, undoubtedly many ended up in the garbage. As well, if a mistake was made in the reporting, hundreds if not thousands of sheets of paper would end up not used. The client’s transition to an electronic based reporting and statement method has greatly reduced their carbon footprint and paper use. By further digitizing their business, they have reduced the amount of paper that they use and waste each year, thus becoming increasingly environmentally friendly.

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