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Real-time Analytics Matching Platform (RAMP): Part 2

Why Care About "Analytics" Anyway?
One definition of analytics is the process of making optimal decisions based on appropriate data analysis. Analytics closely resembles statistical analysis and data mining, but tends to be based on modeling involving extensive computation. A common application is the study of business data using statistical analysis to identify patterns and develop models to predict future customer behaviors intended to positively impact business operations.

Instead of "flying by the seat of your pants", management uses actual data and modeling to determine the best course of action. That is exactly what Real-time Analytics Matching Platform (RAMP) is designed to do.

What is RAMP? A quick review of my previous column may be helpful here. Real-time Analytics Matching Platform (RAMP) is a software application designed for inbound call centers and used to match incoming callers to the most optimal "agent" based on customer buying preference models. It's similar to skills based routing except RAMP looks for the best customer match with:

* agents that interact and perform best with that specific customer at that time
* available agents
* agents currently busy but expected to be available within an acceptable period
* self-service applications such as those found on IVR systems

Initially developed by Assurant Solutions to improve their customer retention rates, RAMP uses sophisticated (and proprietary) model-based analytics to identify customer "success factors" which increase the probability of positive customer behaviors (buy more products/services). IBM designed RAMP's matching engine, which then uses those critical success factors to find the optimal customer-agent/self-service match. Once RAMP determines the best "match", this information is handed off to the existing routing software to complete the customer contact.

Again, the optimal "agent" match may in fact be an self-service application. If the routing-retention model determines that the customer prefers to use self-service tools instead of a live agent, they may offered the IVR system as an option. This is what communications enabled business processing (CEBP) is all about, right?

* Minimize human latency/delay
* Improve workflow productivity/efficiency
* Drive out operational costs out or increase revenues
* Enhance the customer experience.

Input from IBM
Since the last column on RAMP, I spoke with Toby Cook, IBM's Customer Analytics Practice Leader, to learn more about the application/service offer. Here are the key points from that conversation:

* IBM redesigned and enhanced the original software developed by Assurant. IBM now co-owns the RAMP software application (intellectual property) with Assurant.

* RAMP is offered exclusively by IBM Global Business Services through its Business Analytics and Optimization (BAO) practice.

* Think of RAMP as a software application with IBM professional services wrapped tightly around it. For its own clients, Assurant Solutions generally subcontracts the RAMP implementation to IBM.

* RAMP is recommended for contact centers with >100 agents, as a minimum. However, there is no maximum or limit to the software capacity.

* RAMP core components are shown in this table:

* Core software application includes all management and reporting tools.

* There are no optional features or packages. All features/functionality are either pre-packaged or developed (customized) via IBM professional services

* Professional services include system design, systems integration, database design/build, testing, and production deployment

* All maintenance/updates/support are included with the RAMP Asset License purchase for Year 1. In Year 2, maintenance is an "optional" service offer at ~20% of the RAMP Asset License fee.

* RAMP integrates with all major contact center platforms from Aspect, Avaya, Cisco, Alcatel-Lucent/Genesys, Interactive Intelligence, Siemens etc

* IBM offers a "Business Value Accelerator" workshop (typically 2-3 weeks) where they will identify estimated ROI with RAMP deployment. Workshop fee starts in the mid-five figures.

* IBM estimates that customer retention and revenue gain using RAMP is typically at least 30% and up * RAMP is currently active at more than seven companies involved in the insurance, banking, direct consumer, retail and telco industries, with many others underway.

Up next, "Trust But Verify"--A Lesson About Managed Services

Until then, all the best.