Readers’ letters

People insight

Information Age’s September 2002 feature on predictive analytics (Future gazing) was thorough and engaging – but businesses may be led to think all that stands between them and a clear understanding of their customers is the latest technology.

As a chartered statistician in charge of a team responsible for predicting the behaviour of millions of customers, I never rely solely on technology – however advanced – to do this for me.

Instead, I use specialists to get under the skin of the business and its customers. They pick out the relevant information for analysis to make sure what comes out at the other end is robust and valid. They’re then at the other end to interpret the information, as it can still be misleading.

In a recent customer analysis project for the CPP Group we discovered they could have saved £2.4 million last year alone by being able to predict their customers’ behaviour.

We came to this conclusion by really understanding the business and its customers, then analysing specific data. Using numerous statistical analysis methods and combing through wide-ranging data on CPP’s customers, we’ve now built a range of customer models to help CPP’s marketing and sales teams to react to findings on a daily basis. They can then investigate different marketing campaigns to promote reactivation rates – and by doing so they’ll be able to retain customers with a lifetime value of millions of pounds.

Until businesses realise there is no substitute for the human touch, customer analysis projects with inevitably fail and CRM cynicism will continue.

Dene Jones
Head of DataInsight
GB Group Plc

Pret a portal

I read your feature Portal payback (Information Age, August 2002) with interest.

Significant investment in IT always prompts the ROI question, however, [managers should] not to get too hung up on recouping costs when looking for the ROI from a portal because it will bring value in other ways that cannot be quantified in pounds.

Two other factors that will influence whether the investment in a portal can be justified: first, don’t underestimate the cultural change and resistance that a portal brings – employee uptake can make or break the success of a portal; second, usage metrics are an absolute must – a portal is a work in progress and if you don’t monitor its usage by employees and/or customers, you will not have any insight into what’s working and what should be changed.

Those responsible for implementing portals are in danger of repeating the same mistake made with web sites in the Internet boom – everyone was so concerned with getting them up and running that the issue of measurement was either placed way down the list or not considered at all.

Martyn Reeves
Head of SPSS Solutions UK

No need for head

As your article Portal payback points out, there are many conflicting theories about measuring the financial benefits of a portal, all of which are subject to debate. But before even considering a purchase, decision-makers need a strategy for getting a portal that’s right for their company.

Important questions need to be addressed before you start doing business with the vendors. For example, IT departments should not have to fork-out for post-instalment integration. One should also ask if it is platform- independent, to avoid the risk of being tied to an outmoded system (or supplier). Finally, your portal should be tailored to the particular demands of your company and enhance the services you offer.

Portal choice is a matter of asking, from the outset, what difference to your workload it will make. With the right portal, the savings, in terms of time and money, and the gains of improved employee morale should be convincing enough for you then to look into the costs, but not before.

Colin Hadden
Business Development Manager
iManage Ltd


In our article Portal payback we cited a cost/benefit analysis of Siemens’ corporate communications portal by Nucleus Research. Further information can be found at and not at as the article stated.

Avatar photo

Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

Related Topics