Crossmark portal incorporates Microsoft SQL products

REDMOND, Wash. — Crossmark has launched a self-service data portal that it said would deliver business insights in real time to manufacturer and retail clients in the consumer goods industry.

The portal, which uses the Microsoft SQL Server Parallel Data Workhouse, provides sales and marketing channels with access to real-time market data, allowing them to analyze and take advantage of market trends faster than before, the company said.

"As the consumer goods industry has grown, so have the ways to measure the effectiveness of sales and marketing campaigns, creating large, complex data sets that are hard to derive meaning from without the right tools," Crossmark EVP and chief information officer Jim Norred said. "By extending our current SQL Server 2012 business intelligence implementation to include SQL Server PDW, we've enhanced our self-service data portal to accommodate these large data sets, as well as daily point-of-sale data, which provides on-demand results from our clients' sales and marketing efforts."

Last year, Crossmark's 34,000 employees supported 26 million in-store activities for its clients across more than 550,000 retail outlets in five countries, generating enormous amounts of point-of-sale data and creating the need for scalability, the company said.

"The fast, on-demand data access that SQL Server PDW provides through our self-service portal will give our clients tremendous opportunities to leverage shopper insights into their strategic planning and tactical operations," Norred said. "Using that data, they're able to quickly adjust any number of variable factors associated with their sales strategy, such as pricing, promotion or placement, which can dramatically boost sales and profitability."

Crossmark also plans to use Microsoft's SharePoint Server and SQL Server 2012 Power View and PowerPivot to provide scorecards and other ways to visualize data, such as dashboards and ad-hoc analytics. Norred said combining SQL Server PDW and Microsoft's business-intelligence software would eliminate a bottleneck caused by Crossmark's legacy platform of data reporting, which the company said wasn't scalable, and new infrastructure elements would help Crossmark redeploy employees in efforts more focused on clients.

"Although we do want to strengthen our leadership position as a sales and marketing services provider in the consumer goods industry, we ultimately want to be able to better help our manufacturer and retailer clients extend their market leadership," Norred said. "Our vision is to provide manufacturers and retailers with technology solutions that drive growth and efficiencies in their businesses, and that is exactly why we collaborated with Microsoft on this solution."