ECWise was engaged to build breakthrough technology for C2Rewards Inc. to allow casinos to quickly build Online brands utilizing the best iGaming, social networking, advanced analytics and automated cross-marketing among their Online and Brick-n-Mortar properties.
The C2Rewards founders came to EC Wise with the germ of an idea, to automate the hosting process in casinos and thereby create a hosted experience to all the casino patrons, not just the “whales”. They could articulate the concept, but they did not know where to start to build a product around it that they could take to market.
ECWise was engaged to build breakthrough technology for C2Rewards Inc. to allow casinos to quickly build online brands utilizing the best iGaming, social networking, advanced analytics and automated cross-marketing among their Online and Brick-n-Mortar properties. In addition, C2Rewards asked EC Wise to create corporate infrastructure around the technology that would bring it to market.
The resulting C2Rewards product suite was an integrated solution consisting of iGaming, branded social networking portals for each casino and automated marketing and analytics. The suite was able to drive higher patron involvement with online and brick-n-mortar casino brands using a few simple tools:
Portal – The Portal builds a strong online branded experience where a casino’s patron community could play games, engage continually and get involved in social activities like trip planning. Portal Venues – Each portal mirrored the casino’s brick-n-mortar property by showcasing each of its venues and provided each venue with its own wall where special promotions and events could be announced.
Venues and Events – Each portal mirrored the casino’s brick-n-mortar property, showcasing its venues and providing each venue with its own virtual wall where special promotions and events could be announced. Within a venue, each event could have its own page, complete with a “wall”, photo uploads and more. Casino patrons could post and participate in the event and share the event with their friends.
Portal Groups – The portal allowed patrons to create group pages where they could plan events around and in the casino. Membership and interactions in these groups generated valuable marketing metrics for casino campaigns.
This high touch engagement model yielded more frequent opportunities to incentivize patrons to visit the property, without the added expense of an email or direct mail campaign. The social network aspect enabled patrons to inform friends about their plans, making the whole process more viral and spontaneous. Having compelling games in the portal increased the number of visits, which in turn kept the casino at the top of its patrons’ minds.
C2Rewards ETL Platform and Services
The C2Rewards Suite provided ETL templates and processes to import and integrate huge patron databases and player history provided by leading vendors of casino management systems. C2Rewards leveraged ECWise’s ETL services, operations and private cloud infrastructure to provide high availability solutions for C2Rewards casino customers.
C2Rewards Analytics Platform
The C2Rewards suite collected vast amounts of data about the casino patron’s activities on the social network and their Online game play. This information was translated into actionable knowledge in the form of patron tags and metrics that could then be used for marketing, advertising networks and other promotional initiatives.
C2Rewards requested that EC Wise personnel play key operational roles in the product rollout, as C2Rewards developed a strong market presence between 2013 and 2014, As part of the services EC Wise provided, our team members became leading advocates and presenters on how casinos could effectively bridge the gap between their brick-n-mortar properties and their on-line presence. In 2014, we were able to negotiate the sale of the C2Rewards to a well-funded player in the industry who would be able to extend its market reach, at terms that were very satisfactory to the founders.
TransCentra is one of the largest combined billing and remittance processing service providers in the United States. Their service offerings include high volume statement production and mail processing, managed electronic bill presentment, and both check based and electronic remittance processing. TransCentra and EC Wise initiated a partnership in 2004, when TransCentra was completing a series of acquisitions that gave the company a strong foundation and a very attractive set of new business opportunities. However, the information systems that delivered this business were fragmented and based on much smaller scale platforms than were appropriate to the needs of the consolidated business. TransCentra tapped EC Wise to define, design and implement a platform on which it could consolidate all the business it acquired and scale to serve significantly more customers and documents.
EC Wise started by focusing on the print production system. Print jobs include various types of financing statements (e.g. mortgage, student loan, business credit, account statements, etc.); health care statements; letters; utility bills; and more. They start with the client delivering a data set containing the data representing the documents to be created and end with the delivery of print files to one or more print sites, plus the delivery of electronic images to an image warehouse.
Development of the Distributed Print System (DPS) started with an exhaustive review of existing print applications. We abstracted classes of requirements as feature sets and worked with product managers to define target feature sets which would be implemented as standard offerings, with variable parameters identified and captured in a database.
We architected both DPS and the Remittance Processing System (RPS) based on a pipeline pattern. Each consists of a series of processing steps, with the output of each step becoming the input to the next. Prior to our engagement, Regulus had standardized on using the Exstream (now OpenText) Dialogue product in DPS for defining document structure, processing rules, and generating print output. Dialogue is a document composition platform with what’s essentially a high speed data merge capability. TransCentra used Dialogue in a two pass model. The first pass generated the initial composition file plus a data file containing the initial values of the tokenized variables. The second pass merged updated values of tokenized variables back into the documents and generated files using an image definition language such as postscript or IBM AFP.
The innovation we added was to take the data file that Dialogue generated in its initial run and load that into an Oracle table, using Oracle’s “external tables” facility. Subsequent steps in the processing pipeline could then be processed by either delivering the data as a flat file to a legacy postal processing application, or using PL/SQL code to apply updates to the table, based on rules defined in a Web application.
This innovation had several benefits. For one, it enabled us to take advantage of Oracle capabilities such as parallelism which provided a substantial performance boost. In addition, it yielded the benefit of being able to roll back to a prior step in a job by using the Oracle flashback feature.
TransCentra (recently sold to SmartHOV) now has a robust, redundant, centralized application processing engine. Most of the application development is parameter driven and the extraction of data from customer data feeds has become more structured and standardized. The paper and electronic bill presentment and payment processes are using the same data allowing virtually effortless migration and transition from paper to digital document delivery.
Having a modern technology platform enabled TransCentra to provide services nationally, with numerous printing and processing locations, allowing their customers to realize enormous savings in postal costs, and in delivery time. Over a dozen years, EC Wise helped TransCentra add numerous differentiating features to their document production and management services, including completely dynamic document creation enabling multiple users to work on document designs in separate workspaces, multiple document review and approval workflows, and secure email delivery.
Achieving these objectives provided increased operational efficiencies and reductions in the cost of initiating processing for new clients, positioning TransCentra to offer new vertical services; and enabling TransCentra to offer additional high value electronic services.
Today, marketing departments have to perform an overwhelming number of tasks to keep their companies competitive: sending emails, SMS, and printed material, placing banner ads and social media, all to nurture prospects with highly personalized, useful content that helps convert those prospects to customers and then continues to build loyalty with timely, targeted and relevant ongoing messaging and offers.
Most marketing systems talk at their customers, even when personalizing their messages. EC Wise worked with the principals of Relentless Marketing LLC to create the Relentless Automated Marketing Platform (“RAMP”), which creates relevant conversations by listening to a response, learning the context and then adjusting its response to the new or expanded interest, focus, concern, urgency etc., in real time via the right channel.
Its architecture, highly flexible rules, and relevance features (variable data, variable text and variable images continuously updated centralized database) allow RAMP customers to automatically converse in real time with more responsive and relevant communications and offers that improve the conversation, increasing loyalty interest and sales.
The design and development effort also focused on providing unique value to a large underserved market: franchisors and those that sell through channels. These indirect seller organizations have a business model that requires a different technology infrastructure, plus features that distribute control, with schemas and functionality designed to manage, monitor and execute collaborative marketing effectively. Multitier architecture, distributed real-time processing, relabeling and other features create differentiation that uniquely supports the needs of these indirect seller ecosystems.
Validating the product vision, RAMP has been adopted by Konica Minolta, who incorporate it into their Envision XMedia Marketing Suite. It has also been adopted by leading printers, casinos and travel companies.
Market Metrix is a leader in feedback solutions for the hospitality industry, with more than 100 enterprise clients, in 70 countries, from lodging, car rental, airlines, and allied fields. They specialize in “high touch” scenarios, where a superior level of personalization in customer service is required. Their internal teams have earned a reputation for innovative research to enhance customer and employee satisfaction. In 2008, Market Metrix began a successful collaboration with EC Wise and its China partner EC Wise Sichuan to match sophisticated human analysis capabilities with the right computerized tools.
Market Metrix’s central service to clients is a highly customizable, web-based survey mechanism, which results in a wealth of data for analysis. They wanted to leverage the data in a manner as precisely targeted to its clients’ needs as are the surveys. They needed accessible reporting tools, both for their internal expert users and client end-users with less insight and ability. Additionally, Market Metrix envisioned a number of new products, including sale of research results from multiple sources and in new formats.
An important source of data for Market Metrix’ analysis is a web-based survey administered for Market Metrix by Harris International. This anonymous “benchmarking” survey makes Harris’ interactive polling engine and pool of participants available for comparison with Market Metrix customer survey data. Harris’ delivery of survey results was in an idiosyncratic format, which changed quarter to quarter. As with any anonymous survey, extremely poor data quality represented a constant challenge.
Market Metrix engaged the EC Wise team to help modernize their processes and pave the way for integrating their various offerings. Their primary goal was to standardize the Harris survey intake procedures and provide analysis models for the benchmarking data. Market Metrix also wanted to “enrich” the data from third-party sources, to be incorporated ad-hoc. As an important feature of the changes, the new analysis capabilities for the benchmarking data would drill-down to individual venues; previous benchmarking analyses were at brand or corporate level. For an optimal resale strategy, the analysis would offer further drill-down into individual responses.
The EC Wise-US and Sichuan teams first analyzed the way Market Metrix produced surveys with Harris, and then designed a suitable data warehouse structure for the results. In conjunction with the data warehouse implementation, we created an ETL process that would adapt as the survey structures changed.
The team provided initial load processing for 5 years’ worth of previous survey results. Loading the historic data required arduous data cleansing of many types. The overall result was greater accuracy and a higher degree of confidence in any analysis results from this wide and deep data resource.
EC Wise examined the brand-to-property relationships in existing data, and compared them to an industry-standard third-party data source for hospitality brand affiliations and property-level data. EC Wise created over 20 algorithms to match source property designations in the external data against Market Metrix’s own view of properties and brands. Users prioritized the algorithms based on perception of their reliability, received match statistics and results, and refined their matching order to request new trials.
Market Metrix was able to use the result to normalize their brand and affiliation designations. The combined and branded data resource offers not only a new, up-to-date set of survey selectors for Harris surveys but also an authoritative source for internal lookups of brand and property-level data for additional analysis.
Then EC Wise team members analyzed the survey metadata and designed a set of XML schemas for it. The team envisioned a phased introduction of the metadata. They provided a simple-to-implement change to the business process to start, but included a comprehensive plan for evolving Harris survey design to merge with Market Metrix’s standard administrative process for customer survey management.
With metadata and base methodology for data intake in hand, we provided a light-weight initial way to accessing the new repository. Using tutorials based on Market Metrix data and analysts’ wish-lists, Market Metrix users learned to use Excel to retrieve both the data warehouse relational layer and the cube layer. The approach allows Market Metrix staff to experiment and provide feedback, while the team continues to refine their design. It also allows Market Metrix to prototype more formal reports for later implementation.
Market Metrix is succeeding with the new benchmarking repository. It loads Harris data each quarter at a low cost, in a consistent process, with increased operational efficiencies, and to normalized storage structures. Market Metrix derives new, publishable insights, and actionable recommendations for its client base. They have achieved a different form of partnership with Harris, and a better model for expectations in dealing with other data vendors in the future.
With the new repository, Market Metrix has added the desired property-level analysis capability to their previous overview of brands and affiliation. They use the new analysis cubes at this level to capitalize on its market-leading sophistication in research areas such as customer loyalty. With finer control of the benchmarking data, they find new productizing opportunities for the Harris data.
EC Wise’s business user-centered design process enables Market Metrix to drive requirements at the pace they need. EC-Wise and EC Wise Sichuan tight coordination and unique blend of US and off-shore talent make the process cost-effective and high-quality.
The benchmark resource provides a cleansed, authoritative and accessible basis for hospitality data for Market Metrix customers and in the general industry pool. Its organization facilitates the resalable retrieval of both raw data and informative metadata. The cubes allow Sales staff to gauge the availability of different slices of data and for pricing and packaging. After the sale, Market Metrix reaches back into the data warehouse for the purchased details. Market Metrix’s internal database design staff will be counting on this accessibility, as they embark on their new version of their customer-facing product lines. Afforded organized feedback from their own customers, able to compare themselves against the correct competitive market segments, and empowered with well-presented analysis, predictions, and suggested remediation, Market Metrix’s clients will have a complete business intelligence view of their customers’ experience and needs.
Singulex has become recognized as a leader in the Life Sciences Industry with its pioneering “Single Molecule Counting” technology. In 2008, Singulex launched a business initiative to make its comprehensive assay technology, and in particular its ultra-sensitive cardiac troponin tests, available directly to physicians treating cardiac patients. Based on its assessment that the marketplace lacked specialized offerings providing resources for cardiac patients, Singulex set out to build personalized wellness programs through the vehicle of its CVMedHome web site (http://www.cvmedhome.com).
While recognized experts in cutting edge life sciences technology, Singulex struggled to develop a correspondingly innovative and efficient online presence. The challenge they faced was in developing an application that met a complex and sometimes conflicting set of “must have” requirements. It needed to be:
-Approachable enough to be used by physicians and patients of varying computer literacy;
-Fast enough to be used by nurses during patient intake; and
-Capable of capturing validated, structured data for the purpose of building an online data warehouse sufficiently robust to substantiate claims of CVMedHome’s effectiveness.
Singulex started the development process using an in-house developers who had written the software to drive their laboratory instruments, augmented with an offshore team in India that they hoped would increase their bandwidth and “reduce costs”.
After the combined team of in-house architects and off-shore development struggled for a year to produce an application that met the business goals, Singulex sought out another partner to realize their business goals. Singulex chose EC Wise as their partner after carefully considering a variety of other top-tier offshore providers.
EC Wise Solution
Singulex first met with EC Wise after sinking nearly a year into the development of CVMedHome; the market window was slipping away, and Singulex management didn’t know whether the work done to date was even usable. Hoping to “salvage” what had been built, EC Wise was engaged to perform a rapid assessment of the implementation. It was already February, and Singulex only had several weeks to “finish” the online application for a business mandated April Launch.
EC Wise applied its considerable onshore Architecture, Analysis and Governance capabilities to rapidly providing Singulex a full technical analysis of the existing codebase. After completing the assessment in the allotted three weeks, EC Wise presented its findings in multiple detailed technical assessments, and recommended starting over with the latest software and database tools. The implementation would leverage Microsoft Windows Server 2008R2, SQL Server and IIS as its IT Platform to reduce acquisition and operational costs over the previously proposed DB2 and i5/OS. For the web application itself, EC Wise chose to development logic and web interface on the java platform leveraging the latest versions of the Tapestry, Spring, and MyBatis libraries.
Development of what would become the first version of CVMedHome started on March 1, 2010, and was complete in time for an April 30 launch. Key features of the service include on-demand updates of test results to the site for physician review, the ability for patients to enter and maintain their health histories, and support for interactions between clinicians and patients around strategies for maintaining and improving patients’ cardiovascular health.
After the initial service launch EC Wise extended the agile process it initiated with the first version development into a series of sprints that delivered additional features and functions, as well as enhanced reporting.
EC Wise worked with Singulex to extend CVMedhome through 2013. Singulex continues to offer CVMedHome as a vehicle for engaging physicians and supporting their efforts to bring better care to patients with accepted risk factors for Cardiovascular disease. The CVMedHome Program utilizes proprietary Singulex technology, with the data processing, business intelligence, and web presentation built by EC Wise, to monitor patients within four categories of CVD risk; heart function, vascular inflammation, lipid and metabolic status. A comprehensive patient test report helps physicians to effectively manage chronic disease, evaluate treatment efficacy, and monitor disease progression.
Pivot Payables provides business to business transaction delivery services on a SaaS basis. As a SaaS provider processing B2B transactions, Pivot recognizes that their services would have significant scalability, reliability and security requirements. Their management’s high level strategy was to bootstrap the company with a small amount of initial investment, so they needed a very high efficiency development team with deep expertise in their business domain and a proven track record addressing their non-functional requirements. That led them to choose EC Wise as a development partner.
Pivot’s initial product set was based on integration with the Concur Expense and Invoicing platform, to enable Concur customers to obtain additional transaction processing and information value out of the data they put into the system. The first product to be developed was PivotLink, which is an integration between Concur and Microsoft CRM, that allows expenses booked in Concur to be associated with CRM opportunities. That product did not get significant traction in the marketplace.
The second product we developed was PivotPrime. PivotPrime produces billing statements for reimburseable expenses, which is an essential capabilitiy for professional services companies. Prior to PivotPrime, billing for project expenses was a highly labor intensive project for companies that now use PivotPrime. The third product we developed was PivotNexus, which services as an integration service between Concur and a company’s ERP system. Currently it supports Quickbooks Desktop and Online as Direct Connects and a wide variety of other products as flat file integrations.
There have been two significant technical challenges in developing this product suite. The first is the limited bandwidth available for extracting transactions from the Concur platform, and its idiosyncracies. We have had to implement a polling system that is very forgiving of errors, with the ability to perform partial loads and restarts. The other is handling receipt files. When Concur users file expense reports, they upload receipts which can be in a variety of formats. Managing these files efficiently, normalizing them, and including them on billing reports in a standard way presented a challenge which was overcome by evaluating image libraries, finding one that worked well, and building an image management framework around it.
As part of the development process EC Wise used the Contrast Security Interactive Application Security Testing platform to identify vulnerabilities, and was able to quickly address them. We also developed a data processing platform based on MySQL and MongoDB that can scale fairly linearly to support an increasing installed base.
Pivot was able to get a set of products to market quickly, gain sales traction, and then continue to enhance the products to appeal to larger and more diverse customers. A large part of the success can be attributed to getting a “minimum viable product” into the marketplace quickly, then doing stepwise refinement to meet the needs of the full customer marketplace. PivotPrime and PivotNexus is gaining significant acceptance across the Concur installed base. As a result, Pivot is well positioned for its next phase of growth.