By: Don Kainer, Vice President of Engineering and COO

How AnswerOn creates predictive models:

To provide the most value for our services, AnswerOn must respond quickly and accurately to the evolving requirements of our customers. The behavior of the end user (our customer’s customer), is not static. Changes to business objectives, seasonality and the economic environment have an impact on customers’ behavior. Predictive models and prescriptive interventions must be constantly monitored and enhanced to align with behavioral changes. The Agile Development ProcessThe key to making this objective a reality is to have a development process that enables rapid response to changing requirements and a development environment that supports the process. A hybrid Agile development process and Business Objects Data Services as well as Web Intelligence software is used by AnswerOn for development and enhancement of the predictive models and prescriptive interventions.

The initial engagement with our customers:

This requires a thorough understanding of the data provided and the business processes behind the data and it could be a lengthy task given the amount and type of data that is provided by our customers.  Simply waiting to get all the complete data sources available and understanding of all of the business processes would cause unexpected delays in producing actionable results. AnswerOn takes an incremental approach to this problem by building models quickly, layering on data sources as the knowledge base grows. Our Business Objects Data Services (BODS) software facilitates this rapid integration by allowing us to build an architecture that encapsulates the software parts of our development process. This enables us to provide immediate value to our customers, providing valuable insight to our customers’ problems. Our Agile process allows us to make weekly sprints where new data sources are loaded, new features are added to the model and our data warehouse is updated for analysis. The integration of BODS and the Business Intelligence analysis software is critical to this goal. Weekly meetings are held with our customers to provide input on model accuracy and analytic results. Feedback from our customers is rapidly integrated and new models are produced and the data warehouse is updated. Final deliverables are produced in as little as six weeks where the results of our predictive models and prescriptive interventions are ready for deployment on our customer portal. Constant interaction with our customers throughout the initial engagement assures that AnswerOn is aligning with the objectives of the project and that our customers are ready to use the results.

After the initial engagement:

AnswerOn provides new deliverables on a pre-determined periodic basis as determined by the customer. Because our models are not static, we capture the changes in behavior and incorporate those changes quickly to ensure that our customers get the best possible results from our retention program. Updated data is provided, new features are added, models are re-trained, new results are delivered and analysis is updated. In addition, new data sources may be provided (and features from those sources added) and prescriptive interventions may be added or changed. Weekly meetings with software engineers, project managers and analysts are held to address the priority of tasks as defined in our ticketing system. Participation by the various organizational entities in these meetings assures that the right requirements are met and that customer expectations are accurately communicated. The tasks are defined so that they can be implemented and delivered rapidly to our customers. Our Agile development process and architecture built using Business Objects software facilitates this. Because of the modular nature of our environment, changes are isolated to the relevant parts of the architecture and the testing of those changes can be done to assure requirements are met and accuracy is maintained.

In the end…

AnswerOn understands that our client’s business changes rapidly. The business environment is not static. In order to be successful, businesses must rapidly adapt to those changes. As a valued partner, AnswerOn must be able to support the evolving requirements of our customer. Engagement with our customers is a constant process. Feedback on the effectiveness of our programs must be captured and incorporated. New data must be integrated, new models must be developed and prescriptive interventions must meet the behavioral changes driving the defined problems. By using an Agile development process and Business Objects driven software architecture, AnswerOn can rapidly deliver solutions that are accurate and effective in addressing our customers program objectives.

Learn more about the AnswerOn process. Read a case study or white paper.