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2 page Case Study

Hanley Wood

Microsoft Business Intelligence Opens Doors to Rich Housing Analytics

Posted: 5/26/2010

At a time of great challenges in the real estate market, Hanley Wood—the housing industry's leading independent research firm—envisioned a rich Business Intelligence solution that would help customers cut costs, mitigate risk, and identify new business opportunities. The result is a powerful but easy-to-use analytics platform that lets builders, financial institutions, and analysts slice, dice, and drill down into all available data in minutes.


Business Needs

As the largest player in residential construction, Hanley Wood is synonymous with the biggest names in the space, known for its marquee events, award-winning publications, and more than 30 branded Web properties.

“This is a different housing market than we’ve seen—risk and cost control are key for companies to be successful,” said Jonathan Smoke, Hanley Wood’s Senior Vice President of Products and Innovation. “Now is the time that this industry, this country, this world appreciates intelligence about housing more than they ever have.”

To meet this demand, the firm needed to become the most comprehensive, single-source collector, aggregator, and distributor of U.S. housing market intelligence. But it faced some challenges.

First, the market intelligence firm it purchased a few years ago covered only 79 major markets, or 163 counties in the U.S. In addition, market statistics were lacking as residential real estate statistics on new and existing home sales rely heavily on

survey data and do not represent the actual recorded sales price.

“We have a client base of around 400 companies, but we could capture only part of their spend because we covered only a portion of the markets and a certain amount of data they needed,” noted Smoke.

To solve these problems, Hanley Wood envisioned a Business Intelligence (BI) solution that would collect actual home sales deed transactions from all U.S. counties and combine those transactions with buyer demographics, builder data, and home characteristics, providing a rich and easy-to-use analytic platform that would let customers slice, dice, and drill down into all available data in minutes.

Solution

Hanley Wood turned to Microsoft Gold Certified Partner Solid Quality Mentors to develop Housing Intelligence Pro (HIP)—an advanced analytical system for the real estate market. HIP combines all U.S. housing market tax and sales data in an integrated BI solution along with customer demographic, builder, subdivision, census, and mapping data.

Based on Microsoft Silverlight, it follows the software-as-as-service model, with subscribers paying for access. Subscribers log into the Silverlight analytics application, hosted in an ASP.NET Web portal, to navigate through the information.
*
* I’ve been in the housing industry for 35 years and have never seen data brought together in such a compelling way. This is going to change the way the industry works with information.*

Frank Anton
CEO
Hanley Wood

*

The analytics UI leverages the Silverlight BI Companion tool from Enterprise Software Solutions (http://www.entsoftsol.com/), which connects into Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services and allows for charting, pivoting, and geospatial drilldown by different shapes (e.g., state, county, ZIP code) and by heat maps that use color to compare data points.

HIP’s integration with Bing Maps allows polygon searching of tax and deed data and uses the Bing Maps Silverlight control to show map layers and highlight homes. Users can also connect to the data using Excel 2007 through the Web and leverage Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services’ advanced reports and data exports.

To manage all the data sources it draws from, HIP features an intelligent ETL engine and an internal application for Hanley Wood research analysts. The engine detects patterns and matches, using Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Integration Services’ fuzzy matching and geospatial queries to predict associations and sales types. Analysts can then fill in missing data such as addresses and tie homes to subdivisions and their builders. Using the Bing Maps Silverlight Control they can zoom—down to the level of a house number—and highlight various shapes, which can then be coordinated with actionable tasks such as validating sales data.

Behind the scenes, a SQL Server 2008 data warehouse stores the application data, associates data sources together, and tracks historical housing sales data into a dimensional model. Shapes are also stored and associated in the data warehouse, letting users perform spatial queries.

Benefits

Unparalleled Depth and Breadth of Data

With HIP, Hanley Wood now covers more than 2,300 U.S. counties. Instead of handling only 40% of new home transactions, it covers 95% of all housing transactions, including existing home sales and foreclosures.

Raw Data into Actionable Information

The HIP solution includes nationwide daily and weekly data feeds from many sources and turns the raw data into actionable information. Customers can slice and dice the data through HIP’s rich analytics to make better decisions faster. And reports and data sets that used to take significant time to create can now be assembled in minutes with HIP’s analytics UI.

Frank Anton, CEO of Hanley Wood, sums up the impact: “I’ve been in the industry for 35 years and have never seen data brought together in such a compelling way. This is going to change the way the industry works with information.”

Growing Revenue and Market Share

For HIP’s technology component—including hardware, software, and Solid Quality Mentors’ design and development services—Hanley Wood expects to see a 100% return on investment in about 1 year. The strategic return in terms of revenue and market share growth is even more exciting for the firm.

With its expanded analytical capabilities and extended reach, Hanley Wood looks to grow past 2000-3000 customers within a few years. Today, the solution is giving Smoke and his team the ability to meet with the largest organizations in the housing space. Companies such as CB Richard Ellis, Cushman Wakefield, Beazer Homes, MDC/Richmond American, Pulte Homes, Lennar, and more are already testing or using the new platform with great success.

This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.

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Hanley Wood

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Solution Overview

Organization Profile

Hanley Wood is the premier media and information company serving housing and construction. The company produces award-winning magazines and Web sites, marquee trade shows and events, and custom marketing and market intelligence data solutions that support builders’ critical information needs.



Partner(s)

Solid Quality Mentors


Software and Services
Microsoft Silverlight
Microsoft Office Excel 2007
Microsoft SQL Server 2008
Bing Maps
Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services
Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Integration Services
Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services
Microsoft ASP.NET



Vertical Industries
Other Services



Country/Region
United States



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