At the 2015 Enterprise Information Management (EIM) Congress, PwC presented the implementation of an information management software product called Pulse and shared its users’ experiences. Every day, more than 10,000 consultants receive all the available information on customers and market trends, sorted according to their specific needs, thanks to this application. Pulse is a Dutch concept that is being deployed all over the world.
On June 25, the Grand Hôtel Amrâth Kurhaus in Scheveningen, on the Dutch coast, welcomed several hundred information professionals to the 2015 EIM. The theme of this year’s congress on enterprise information management was “Inspiration and interaction: sources of innovation for novice and experienced professionals”. Much of the inspiration and interaction was provided by an application designed specially for the event by the professional association Ngi-NGN, which brought all the participants into contact with one another. The host and columnist Farid Tabarki kicked off the event. His captivating description of this era of digital disruption, also known as the digital transformation, inspired the audience. According to Tabarki, we are currently in a phase of transition between the old rigid structures and a world that is much more transparent and dynamic. Against this backdrop, people, organizations and businesses of all shapes and sizes occasionally collaborate with increasing flexibility, and are faced with the challenge of perpetual change. Anyone who wants to find out more should read “Digital Disruption” by James McQuivery, an analyst with Forrester.
The pulse of customers and markets
The program of morning plenary sessions at the 2015 EIM congress included numerous interesting presentations, and in particular the one made by Bas Eenhoorn, the Commissioner for the digitization of the Dutch public administration, who reviewed the digitization of the public sector and the main obstacles that stand in its way. The practical experiences presented by major enterprises like Agis, Eneco, Landal GreenParks and Menzis were also very interesting. After lunch, the guests could attend one of two sessions of simultaneous presentations, according to their areas of interest. One of these sessions looked at Pulse, the enterprise information management solution that PwC is in the process of deploying worldwide so that the company’s consultants receive made-to-measure information on a daily basis. The program manager, Benoît Despierre, explained how Pulse, designed and developed in the Netherlands a few years ago, takes the pulse of customers and markets. PwC employs around 195,000 partners and employees worldwide who advise organizations, check annual accounts and solve their customers’ tax and human resources management problems on a daily basis.
The challenges facing enterprise information
The need for an information management solution was born in two sections of PwC: the consultants and agents who work for customers; and research specialists working for PwC. For the former, the main challenge consisted of staying informed of all the latest news about their customers and the changes in their field of activity. But it was also important to know where reliable information could be found. The research specialists, who study various sources and conduct in-depth analyses, were increasingly overwhelmed by the ever growing quantity of information. A white paper, published by IDC in mid-2014, revealed that people working in professional services spend 26% of their time looking for, organizing and analyzing information. And at PwC, this time cannot usually be billed. Furthermore, Despierre identified three trends that, in his opinion, influence the consumption of information in a general manner. First, the autonomy of the public, in the sense that the public wants to have control over the time, the place and the manner in which they consume. Then comes the fragmentation of the public, or the division of its attention between increasingly numerous news items. Finally there is the fragmentation of the media, or the boom in channels of communication.
Improved efficiency and lower costs
Before implementing Pulse at PwC, both the agents working for customers and the research specialists spent a lot of time looking for, organizing and analyzing the necessary data. The research specialists write and distribute daily news bulletins on the latest news and the significant market trends. In the past, these operations were performed manually, whereas now, Pulse automates them to a significant extent. Two years ago, the team in Holland employed six people working on a maximum of 60 subjects. Today, four research specialists are sufficient to analyze, interpret and incorporate more than 1,000 subjects in the daily news bulletin. In Germany, where Despierre works, the new enterprise information management solution has saved 95% of costs in the search for, organization, analysis and processing of all the news. Pulse also offers other advantages, such as a better understanding of the use of information sources with subscriptions, and a reduction of the time wasted interpreting and processing duplicate articles.
“Nouvelle cuisine” for the information sector
Benoît Despierre uses the term “nouvelle cuisine” to explain how Pulse works. He makes the distinction between “shopping”, the “kitchen” and the “restaurant”. Shopping represents all the sources of content, charged or free, where PwC employees collect the necessary information every day. They include providers such as Gartner, IDC, Reuters, and others. In the kitchen, the research specialists process information about customers and the markets according to the consultants’ needs. Finally, in the restaurant, the analyzed and organized information is automatically sent to the agents in the customer service department and the consultants, mainly in the form of the news bulletins described above. But the information is also available in the Pulse portal and in an application. A few figures: Pulse uses some 10,000 sources in 25 languages and processes about 80,000 articles every day. The information extracted daily is sent to more than 10,000 internal subscribers in 11 bulletins and 2,400 information alerts. For the users of Pulse, the main advantage is that it significantly simplifies access to the information they need every day.
A time-proven solution
Pulse uses EXALEAD CloudView semantic search technology, distributed and partly implemented by BSL Computer Consultancy in Breukelen (NL). The EXALEAD CloudView software solution from Dassault Systèmes facilitates the rapid search and use of sources of structured and unstructured information. In existence since 2007, this enterprise information management concept was integrated initially in other software applications. Since it was reworked as EXALEAD CloudView, the configuration of the queries has become easier and they are processed much faster. Furthermore, the results of the searches are more precise, significantly reducing the number of duplicates and the time wasted managing them. PwC has deliberately decided to roll out Pulse on an international scale gradually, in order to generate plenty of enthusiasm amongst users. A business case is prepared for each country on the basis of its needs, the benefits and the potential savings. PwC also intends to make the content in Pulse accessible by other internal systems (e.g., the project workspaces), to integrate the sources, and to make the search function even smarter.
Graydon and Mascus
After the presentation of PwC’s experience, Gert te Winkel, a senior consultant with the event’s sponsor, KBenP, presented two EXALEAD applications used at Graydon and Mascus. Graydon is a provider of complete information services for enterprises, in particular to check that companies are solvent, but also to canvass new customers. Graydon invested in information search technologies in order to combine data from its own marketing database with information in the public domain. The goal is to provide smarter marketing data to its customers. Thanks to the development of new services, EXALEAD CloudView has allowed Graydon to become a provider of smart information. According to te Winkel, the average amount of orders per customer has doubled, partly thanks to the new search solution. At Mascus, a platform for the purchase and sale of heavy equipment, EXALEAD CloudView is used to drive e-commerce. It helps to establish contacts between supply and demand more quickly, and to display advertisements that are of interest to the users. In this company, every month, EXALEAD CloudView facilitates the searches made by 4.25 million potential buyers amongst more than 300,000 machine parts, and displays the parts in the ads.