FleetBoston banks on business intelligence benefits

HONORABLE MENTION - Data Warehousing/Business Intelligence

The stated goal of FleetBoston Financial Corp.'s BI app, Fleet Business Intelligence, was improved customer relationship management (CRM), better awareness of cross-selling opportunities and greater sales force efficiency. But at its heart, it was a search for meaning.

"This project was about creating adjustable chunks of information that would be true intelligence about our customers, markets and risk profile," said Michael Caron, customer and risk information director in FleetBoston's business development and strategy group, and the project's business sponsor. "Then it was about enabling the end users to turn that intelligence into plans of action."

Fleet Business Intelligence consolidates and organizes disparate data resources within the organization, and then renders that information in a portal-like Web services interface. The system includes a data warehouse, the MicroStrategy Business Intelligence Platform, several downstream apps and business initiatives around customer profitability, customer value planning, market leadership, risk management, early warning, credit capital management and credit risk rating.

Caron and his development team began work on the project in mid-2001, and went live in January 2002. The original team consisted of seven internal members.

To complete Phase I of the project, Fleet ultimately employed 15 developers full time, as well as about a dozen people on the business side for a full 18 months. During Phase II, which Caron describes as the most aggressive development and testing phase, the team grew to approximately 20. The project was completed on time and on budget.

MicroStrategy's business intelligence platform serves as the system's back-end analysis engine, as a desktop and as a Web interface for reporting. FleetBoston selected the MicroStrategy product because its core Web-based architecture provides them with the ability to deploy to thousands of users without the overhead associated with installing and maintaining client software. The zero-footprint, thin-client architecture also provides administrators with a central point from which to manage enterprise-wide apps.

Several productivity techniques were implemented, including a process model that provided direction on the integration of data, the design of the data system and the delivery of information. Fleet also used its own in-house problem escalation process, known as "red-flag management," to resolve ongoing conflicts.

Today, more than 3,000 users utilize the system. By creating a single point of access to data for FleetBoston's relationship managers, the system allowed the company to improve sales productivity by an estimated 34% since the new system went live.


Project: Fleet Business Intelligence

Purpose: Improve CRM, as well as awareness of cross-selling opportunities and sales force efficiency.

Benefits: Creates a single point of access to data, making it easier and faster for users to gain insight into the firm's customer information.

Platform: Sun Solaris

Ab Initio's ETL tool and the MicroStrategy platform

Michael Caron, John McManus, Kathy Andrade, Michael Alexanian, Dan Pezzullo, Johnny Kwan, Solomon Borocov, Montinee Pongsiri, Jeannine Hardy, Jonathan Floe, Stephen Braunthal

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at


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