From data analysis to real-time business insight
Immoweb takes full advantage of changing search behaviour with mobile apps
Use of the mobile Internet in Belgium is enjoying enormous success and continues to grow, year after year. In fact, it’s hard to imagine our lives without a smartphone or tablet – and feeling that we can be reached anywhere and at any time has become essential and reassuring. Fast, on-the-road checks are also part of the day-to-day routine of the mobile user.
These trends are being clearly felt at the biggest property website in Belgium: Immoweb. Today, three out of ten hits at the site come via a mobile device. For Tom Kestens, COO at Immoweb, it has become essential for organisations to make the shift to mobile if you want to guarantee your audience good service. “But,” she says, “the volume of data and diversity of these (mobile) devices, tools, sources and users means that you need to have the right tools for analysing data and detecting usage patterns. Being able to visualise data is an essential part of that process.”
Immoweb is used differently today than it was a few years ago. Our sector never stands still! New technological developments, the expectations of our customers and particularly increased use of the mobile Internet mean that as market leader, we need to be able to keep things on a tight rein. For us it’s an important driver in going much further in analyzing our data and the trends we are seeing in our business. With Visual Analytics, we are able to accommodate change faster and take advantage of developments.
Goodbye monthly reports, packed with tables. Hello data-driven business
The biggest challenge with any Internet business is keeping a ‘live’ database under control. As a website, you are constantly on the move and generate data non-stop. “But when it comes to interpreting that quantity of information in an understandable way, or trying to generate reports in a structured, unequivocal manner, many of the frequently used tables and spreadsheets are usually too complex and often fall short of the mark,” says Kestens.
The ultimate decision to opt for a new, more advanced tool for data analytics and reporting came after Axel Springer, the German publisher of titles such as Bild, Die Welt and StepStone, took a majority holding in Immoweb. As an organisation within the Axel Springer Digital Classifieds group, Immoweb was required to prepare a financial report by the second day of each month. For Tom Kestens, this was a whole new challenge for which the business was unprepared, but which also presented an opportunity to take things a step further. The new solution also had to be able to help produce better operational reporting and provide support in taking forward-looking management decisions. “We needed a tool that also had a high self-service content so that we could get to work with our own data,” he adds. “There was only one problem: too little time, budget and resources.”
The choice came down to SAS Visual Analytics, which was selected on account of its real-time interaction and strong graphics presentation, as well as its forecasting capabilities and correlation reporting. Kestens: “The potential and quality in the system’s data discovery and graphics-led, interactive reporting is enormous. SAS also has a track record in proven ETL technologies for the extraction, conversion and loading of data.”
From board reporting to data exploration
Another important feature, according to Kestens, is the fact that SAS Visual Analytics is highly intuitive for users. It also offers many different functionalities and has the capability of expanding. As a result, this ambitious SME operating within an international group was also able to tackle implementation in various phases. “For example, we found we were generating dynamic reports with graphics to suit the needs of the Board of Directors in no time at all,” underlines Kestens
“The second stage now consists of setting up a whole new operational and standardised reporting system that will make short work of the endless tables and graphics once and for all. Finally – once everyone has gradually become used to the new tool – Visual Analytics should provide us with support for major projects where there is a need to analyse data using the drill-down feature and construct scenarios. This will enable us to respond even more quickly to changes in the market.”
Team of Experts
One important aspect, according to Tom Kestens, is the composition of the project team, in which the experts from SAS itself play a major role. “This method of working in tandem is crucial in rolling out the various phases efficiently, as well as in supporting the people involved as they switch to the new tool. Fortunately, the solution is easy to understand and you can be on your way in no time at all.”
Better data interpretation: the foundation for the future
The property market is one that is constantly changing. The legislation is always changing too, as do the wishes and requirements of each generation and the popularity of areas and styles of homes. The big advantage today is that Immoweb has access at all times of the day to a visual and clear overview of the business, with the ability to change course very quickly if any unexpected results crop up.
Every manager now uses the same operating reports for the number of premises, conversions, prices, lead times and developments for each type of property, by commercial region and client segment. By presenting the data visually, it is much easier to interpret and understand the data. A good example of this is the ability to view data geographically.
“We are ready for a whole new adventure, a voyage of discovery through our own world,” concludes Kestens. “As a data-driven company, we finally have the right solution and the right database that gives us an insight into the developments and results of our products and segments. This enables our teams to focus on what is really important to realize our ambition: attracting new business and markets so that we can secure and expand our leading position in the real estate world.”
Compilation and analysis of over 150,000 ads for intelligent, visual and real-time reporting and forecasting
Analytics provides management insight into the volume and diversity of all online data, featuring high speed, good graphics and centralised reporting