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Analytics @ Work

Four CIOs reveal their best practices when it comes to business intelligence.
Tim TalbotLike many of our corporate counterparts, we at PHH Arval are using business-intelligence and dashboard technology to differentiate ourselves in the market. But unlike our competitors, we've launched our initial foray into the BI arena as a customer-service initiative, rather than as an internal analytics application.

As the second-largest provider of outsourced commercial fleet-management services, we manage company car programs for nearly a third of the Fortune 500 companies as well as for hundreds of government agencies. We estimate that our PHH InterActive Dashboard application—introduced in the summer of 2005—will save our clients as much as three work days each month in downloading and analyzing fleet data.

As a strategic partner, PHH handles all the processes involved in managing a fleet of business vehicles. We design and tailor ways for company-car drivers to order the vehicles they need, then deliver the vehicle to the driver. We provide a variety of lease options to the company, and issue drivers charge or credit cards to use at the fuel pump. We ensure that appropriate maintenance gets done, and when bad luck happens, we manage the accident-response process. We take care of properly registering and reregistering the vehicles; and because the cars are titled to PHH, once the lease expires, we can sell the cars on behalf of the client. Every one of these processes generates a tremendous amount of information that can help our clients manage their fleets more efficiently.

PHH InterActive Dashboard allows clients to access and analyze fleet trends by providing three years of summary information on key performance indicators and fleet expenses. It gives them access to fleet billing, inventory, and fuel-purchase information, as well as information about vehicle orders and used-vehicle sales options. Clients can monitor their fleet expenses, which are summarized and presented in a format that can be incorporated into their budget-analysis process. For example, trend-analysis reports show the average price per gallon consumed by the fleet over a period of as long as 24 months.

We introduced PHH InterActive in 1998 as a comprehensive enterprise information and asset-management tool. At the same time, we developed an extensive data warehouse, which integrates information from several systems to provide the level of reporting clients needed. While pleased to have the information, they were often overwhelmed by its sheer volume. This was the catalyst for the Dashboard—a collaborative effort with clients. As CIO, I attended many client meetings and worked with our Client Technology Advisory Board. Once we identified their requirements, I worked with the developers to build the prototype. We went through several stages of prototyping.

In terms of vendor selection, we were already using the Brio enterprise reporting toolset, but hadn't upgraded to Hyperion's Performance Suite after Hyperion's acquisition of Brio. Once we determined we wanted to upgrade, we brought in the leading BI vendors and narrowed the field to a short list of providers. In the end, we went with Hyperion. For us, in addition to providing a comprehensive enterprise toolset, it was the path of least resistance—we wouldn't have to redo all our existing reporting, and we would continue to have an integrated solution.

We took an incremental approach. We didn't try to solve all our problems with the first release. We released the beta at the end of August and the second version in December. With each iteration of the Dashboard, we've received valuable feedback from customers. Such input helps us deliver critical requirements incrementally and steadily.

The second release focused on used-vehicle information. Customers are interested in understanding how well those vehicles perform when they come out of service to determine resale value. In our third release—slated for this month—we'll show summary stats about maintenance and accidents, and correlate them with resale value.

Eventually, we're looking to use the tool internally. But the big bang for the buck that has justified the implementation is how the Dashboard has separated us from the pack in our market.

Tim Talbot is senior VP and CIO at PHH Arval.