Informa Agribusiness

Informa: Bringing order to disparate data

Informa’s Business Intelligence division provides in-depth data and insight to customers in several key industry verticals – helping them to make more strategic, better-informed decisions.

Equal Experts was engaged to work with the Agribusiness Intelligence vertical, which as the name suggests covers the agricultural industries and brings together multiple brands with expertise across the value chain. Mergers and acquisitions and integration of new brands had made it increasingly difficult for Agribusiness Intelligence’s people to manage data in an efficient manner, with various legacy processes coming between them and the information.

Furthermore, the reports Agribusiness Intelligence supplied to its customers took the form of a PDF – a mode of delivery that was proving increasingly obsolete. They required a lot of manual work to put together, and could run to many hundreds of pages.

Agribusiness Intelligence therefore had an opportunity to not only address its own processes to better manage, access and use its valuable business data, but also to improve the end products it supplies to customers. It chose Equal Experts to help it seize this opportunity.

How we helped

Working closely with Informa’s Agribusiness Intelligence team, Equal Experts helped to organise thousands of disparate data items into a new digital platform, accessed via a new customer portal (named IEG Vantage). This solution has unlocked the full potential of Agribusiness Intelligence’s insight for its IEG Vantage customers, for the first time.

Our team began its work via an initial two-week inception period, which was spent alongside the customer looking at all its data, products and deliverables. At this point it soon became clear that we couldn’t bring the entirety of 40 years’ worth of time investment online within 6 months. We agreed to deliver the most possible value as soon as possible, by initially focusing our effort on the part of the business which had the most revenue at risk.

We then started to deliver usable content in an online format as soon as possible (validating it with real customers as we did so). Our approach was to restructure the source data (spread across thousands of spreadsheets) in a consistent manner. In turn, this allowed us to post it to the new platform in a consistent manner.

This restructuring didn’t just improve matters for Agribusiness Intelligence – it has helped to transform the end-user’s experience, as it makes it far easier to search and filter sets of data, and display the information in a much more digestible way (custom charts and tables, for example).

Automating the delivery

The real innovation in this context is that our team was able to automate the ingestion of data into the new platform – including the creation of metadata that describes the information in question. This has made a mammoth migration task achievable, and allows ingested data to be found and used more effectively.

This work has slashed the time it takes for Agribusiness Intelligence to provide its IEG Vantage customers with detailed, tailored business reports.

Before, Agribusiness Intelligence staff had to manually produce enormous, unwieldy PDF reports – some of which, as we’ve mentioned, could extend to over 3000 pages. To do so, they had to navigate a complicated data landscape created by a series of mergers and acquisitions, which understandably led to numerous issues with duplication and inconsistency.

In contrast, the new customer portal offers a much more dynamic service, featuring everything from the latest market updates and downloads, to interactive charts that make full use of the breadth of data held by Informa. This was data that was, until now, far less accessible – now it’s directly at customers’ fingertips.

Pleasing customers

The enhanced customer experience that Agribusiness Intelligence can now offer has seen the declining trend in subscription renewals reversed. In fact, the division has seen higher subscription renewal rates than at any other point in its history, with 12-month renewal rates approaching 90 percent. And those customers are making good use of the new platform; weekly page views are up by over 130%, with ensuing data downloads up by over 700%.

Customer comments have been overwhelmingly positive; JP Morgan Chase declared “We love the platform”; Advanced Bioenergy LLC declared it “1000 times better than before”; and GEP Trade confirmed that the “New portal is awesome. Congratulations and thank you.” (source: Informa 2016 Full Year Results Presentation).

The impact of this work should make itself apparent in the longer term, too, as another result of our collaboration has been to change the wider culture within the business. By working alongside Informa’s own staff and embedding agile working practices, we’ve been able to demonstrate what good looks like. The effects are being felt everywhere from hiring practices, to the modern tech stack used to build the platform, and ongoing operations. It all means the business is well placed to make even more of its new technology in the years to come.