Wireless Reporting Speeds Access to Sales Data

No one wants outdated sales numbers or irrelevant reports. But like too many companies, Lincoln Financial Distributors (LFD), a wholesaler of Lincoln Financial Group that provides services in the areas of insurance, annuities, and investment, faced that problem.

"We were getting sales results from multiple sources," says Miko Pickett, assistant vice president at LFD, noting emails and Excel spreadsheets as examples. "Our delivery system could be slow, and there was a substantial lag in getting sales numbers."

So in 2002 LFD went live with Actuate via the Internet. Actuate has helped provide consistent sales reporting data for LFD's management team, internal and external sales force, and financial intermediaries.

About one year later the company integrated Actuate's XML capabilities with a wireless toolkit to create the LFD Wireless Reporting Application. Now, salespeople can access an array of information about their sales leads through Web reports issued by LFD via BlackBerry pagers.

Tagging key elements, Actuate allows a BlackBerry to send only those parts of a report that are relevant to a given sales manager--eliminating the hassle of scrolling through pages and pages of insignificant content. LFD can also build a report and deliver the information via BlackBerry, PocketPC, Web browser, PDF, XML, etc. "We're able to create a report one time, and use that same report to deliver content via Internet and via PDA," Pickett says. "This approach reduces effort and costs from development through deployment."

Once a report is developed and tested, that identical report--or a subset of it, based on the screen size available--will be sent to the appropriate device without any additional coding or testing. "I've seen a dramatic increase in usage of our sales reports online," Pickett says. "Every channel in LFD is using [them]." The company has also recently begun using the solution's pivot tables within e.Spreadsheets to provide Excel spreadsheets on the Web. This has been especially effective in accommodating LFD's multiple audiences with customized reports.

Looking ahead, LFD plans to use Actuate's EII Option to extend its data warehouse and run additional reports. According to Pickett, this function will provide 24/7 database access--in contrast to the current situation, where there are two periods throughout the day when the sales team cannot run ad hoc reports, because the database is loading. "We want to get the sales numbers in as soon as we can," Pickett says. LFD is also slated to put Actuate's query solution into effect in the near future to cater to advanced users who prefer to do their own data mining.

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