Data As A Strategic Asset: A Web Application Creates A Competitive Advantage

One of the best things about a well-conceptualized, well-designed application: you can use it to show your clients exactly how much value you bring them, immediately.

This is what Boost Labs created for the data arm of a corporate travel management company that negotiates preferred hotel and airline rates for Fortune 500 companies. It’s the job of this highly sophisticated team of top-notch data professionals to set up systems that correctly assign all travel and entertainment expenses to individual trips so that they can analyze the data further to help their corporate clients save money on T&E.

It’s a complex system with complex workflows, as each element of the trip – from travel to the airport, a coffee on the way, tolls, etc. – might be paid using a corporate or individual credit card, a payment app, or with cash (who does that?) Each element of each trip must be tracked and correctly assigned by individual and by trip. It’s complicated.

Our client had been using a time-intensive manual process to show their corporate clients just how much those clients had saved by using our client’s corporate travel services, and where there were opportunities to save even more. What used to happen: corporate travel managers would request an analysis of their total spend on travel and entertainment over specific periods. Our client’s data team would manually query the data, analyze the result, and create a write-up or presentation for each request. A typical request might involve three of our client’s employees dedicating about one workday each, per request, for anywhere between a few and a dozen client requests per week. For a client like ours, responding to these requests could cost up to $1 million or more per year.

Perhaps more important, though, is the turnaround time and the way answers were sent to clients. The expectation of a Fortune 500 company is fast turnaround and a relatively sophisticated reporting system. An email with an Excel spreadsheet or charts in PowerPoint just isn’t enough.

You can see why the data team was clamoring for a better solution. We helped them shape their vision and bring it to life, designing a web application that included a series of executive dashboards that could be used by the company’s travel managers and account managers – and by their corporate clients.

We started with the business aspect by identifying which aspects of the data were critically important to our client’s clients. On the data front, we had already worked hand-in-hand with the client’s data team to scrub the data to ensure accuracy. From a design perspective, we created personas to make it easier to identify which groups were at risk of overspending and where more savings were possible with a variety of ways to slice and dice the data. On the technical side, we strove for maximum automation for immediate answers to clients’ questions.

The benefit of this project to our client: an intuitive, appealing interface that provides more accurate data, delivered faster, through a medium that their customers trust more (people trust computer models more than manual calculations), delivered in a way clearly outshone the competition. With these dashboards, the travel company’s corporate clients could immediately use the information to make better decisions. Perhaps most important, though, is that the application showed exactly how much money the travel company was helping their clients save – and enabled them to help save their clients even more.

The feedback from our client was even more direct:

  • How we collaborated seamlessly with the experienced data team to lead the process of gathering requirements, designing, architecting, developing, and testing to transform our vision into reality.
  • How the user-friendly, intuitive interface would make integration with their multinational teams a breeze.
  • How excited they were to provide better insights to their customers.
  • And, just how much they were looking forward to saving thousands of hours of manual data work each year (what they could do with that time, instead!)

If you’d like to hear more about how we can help you use your data as a strategic asset and a competitive advantage, contact us. We can kickstart a project like this with a two-day workshop to clarify your vision or a four-week engagement to create a complete product roadmap. If you’re concerned that your data isn’t ready, we can help with an initial project to ensure data integrity and establish an authoritative data source.

Reach out if you’d like to talk more.

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