Red Light, Green Light

ING Direct is installing traffic lights at the intersection of marketing campaigns and their performance.

ING’s business intelligence system, supplied by Ottawa-based Cognos Inc., features an executive dashboard with red-yellow-green light reporting of key business performance indicators.


the software, executives and senior managers can monitor performance by company department, which is reported by a colour-coded dashboard “”light”” in the display.

“”If sales has a red light on it one day, what they’re able to do is then drill down and see what the causes are,”” according to Cognos spokeswoman Brooke Somers.

If the sales department is not meeting its target, executives can quickly determine the cause — for example, a particular region that is underperforming.

A yellow light means performance is falling short of expectations, but “”it’s not a major problem,”” says Somers. A green light tells executives everything is running smoothly.

ING, based in Wilmington, Del., was primarily using Cognos BI software in the marketing area for campaign measurement, says Tim Handley, head of management information systems for the bank.

“”(We) can monitor how well our marketing dollars are being spent,”” Handley says.

Decision-makers can mon-itor television commercials, if they send direct mail campaigns, radio spots and events for the amount of telephone traffic they generate, as well as new accounts, customer profiles and profits related to new business, says Handley.

Since then, ING, which has used business intelligence for more than six years, has extended the software to its sales, finance and credit departments.

Data drawn from more than 30 North American sources is gathered in a central data warehouse that’s updated daily, says Arline Loh, vice-president of management information systems at ING.

Sources include companies that post ING’s Internet ads or TV ads as well as the bank’s own internal banking systems, Handley says.

The executive dashboard concept isn’t new. Only recently, though, has its profile increased in response to the spread of business intelligence across organizations, says Somers.

“”This is the executive getting involved and wanting a more holistic view of the company… without needing to run a bunch of reports or without having to do a bunch of in-depth analysis.””

Guardian Group of Mutual Funds recently rolled out a Web browser-based business intelligence dashboard based on technology from Information Builders Inc.

The system, originally rolled out to Guardian sales staff, allows self-serve slicing and dicing of information from the office, home office or on the road.

The company had been running static reporting from a Crystal Decisions system, but wanted to provide better information access for end users. Rather than request reports from the IS department — a process that could take a week — users create their own reports on the fly.

Demand for reports from the 23 members of the

sales division from IS has gone from about 25 a month to one, says Julie Hodge, assistant vice-president of information systems with Guardian.

— with files from Jennifer Brown.

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