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Microsoft Office System Customer Solution Case Study : Radio-Research Firm Reduces Production Time and Costs with Presentation Solution


Published on

Country or Region: United States
Industry: Media and entertainment
Customer Profile
Headquartered in Annapolis, Maryland, Research Director, Inc. (RDI) analyzes and presents audience research for more than 200 radio stations in the top radio markets in the United States.
Business Situation
RDI needed to reduce the amount of time required to produce and customize large, complex radio-audience data presentations for its customers.

The company engaged MicrosoftR Gold Certified Partner PSC Group, LLC to develop a new system for producing data presentations using Microsoft Office PowerPointR 2007 and Open XML Formats.

- Faster production
- Reduced costs
- Market differentiation
- Efficient development

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Microsoft Office System Customer Solution Case Study : Radio-Research Firm Reduces Production Time and Costs with Presentation Solution

  1. 1. Microsoft Office System Customer Solution Case Study Radio-Research Firm Reduces Production Time and Costs with Presentation SolutionOverview “We’re going to save at least a full-time person. ByCountry or Region: United StatesIndustry: Media and entertainment using Open XML, we’re going to save two-thirds on labor that we would have needed …, not to mentionCustomer ProfileHeadquartered in Annapolis, Maryland, the extra equipment we would have had to buy.”Research Director, Inc. (RDI) analyzes and Marc Greenspan, Partner, Research Director, Inc.presents audience research for more than200 radio stations in the top radiomarkets in the United States. Research Director, Inc. (RDI), one of the largest radio-researchBusiness Situation consulting firms in the United States, produces large, complexRDI needed to reduce the amount oftime required to produce and customize presentations that provide radio-audience data for its customerslarge, complex radio-audience data once every quarter. Faced with demands to respond to morepresentations for its customers. data and drastically increase its presentation output to almostSolution four times as many presentations and more than three times asThe company engaged Microsoft® GoldCertified Partner PSC Group, LLC to often, the company needed to update its processes todevelop a new system for producing data significantly reduce the amount of time required to producepresentations using Microsoft OfficePowerPoint® 2007 and Open XML each presentation. RDI engaged Microsoft® Gold CertifiedFormats. Partner PSC Group, LLC to develop a new system for compilingBenefits and producing the data presentations using Microsoft Office Faster production PowerPoint® 2007 and Open XML Formats. With its new Reduced costs Market differentiation document generation solution, RDI can produce more Efficient development presentations in less time, while reducing costs and offering more services to more customers.
  2. 2. “We were able to Situation Arbitron released its data once a quarter One of the largest radio-research over a three-week period, and RDI neededimprove the application consulting firms in the United States, every minute of that time to produce the Research Director, Inc. (RDI) provides presentations.performance so ratings analysis for the radio-broadcastdrastically by not having industry. Founded in 1991 and “I called it plate-spinning,” says Marc headquartered in Annapolis, Maryland, RDI Greenspan, Partner at Research Director,to automate PowerPoint, analyzes, interprets, and presents audience Inc., referring to the circus trick of keeping research for more than 200 radio stations, plates spinning atop multiple poles.because it’s not involved including stations in 21 of the top 25 radio “Somebody had to go from computer tountil the user actually markets in the United States. With 12 full- computer, keeping them going, monitoring time employees, RDI generates annual all the stopping points and promptsopens the file. We revenue of almost U.S.$1.5 million. throughout the whole process.”couldn’t have done that One of the primary services that RDI offers In 2008, Arbitron changed its process forwithout Open XML.” its customers is the compilation, analysis, collecting audience data, delivering data for and presentation of radio-audience data more radio stations, and instead of John Head, Director of Enterprise collected by the media research firm releasing the data over a three-week period Collaboration, PSC Group, LLC Arbitron. To help sell advertising and other once every quarter, it delivers new audience services, radio stations use these data data over a three-day period 13 times a presentations to demonstrate ratings, year. market position, and demographics. Arbitron’s increased efficiency presented The Arbitron sampling data, recorded RDI with a challenge. RDI recognized that it manually in logs called “diaries,” was would have to update its processes to meet released four times a year for 50 to 75 radio these new demands. With 13 required stations in 300 U.S. radio markets. For more deliveries a year, RDI did not have enough than 10 years, RDI used an application built days on the calendar to complete the task with Microsoft® Office Access® database using its existing system. software, the Microsoft Visual Basic® 6.0 development system, and Lotus Freelance “Taking three weeks to process the data Graphics to compile the Arbitron data and was no longer an option,” says Greenspan. present it in slide decks. “By the time we’d be done, the next set of data would be coming in, and the The presentations are extremely complex, presentations would be close to useless to consisting of more than 400 slides, our customers. We needed a scalable, including multiple charts and graphs with sustainable production system, and our 30 data points or more. In a process called motivation was literally business survival.” application automation, RDI would use its application to import the Arbitron data into The company needed a solution that would Office Access tables, and then generate the significantly reduce the amount of time charts and graphs in Lotus Freelance required to produce the data presentations. Graphics. It wanted to eliminate manual processes and reduce presentation turnaround from The company had to dedicate a processor weeks to days. It needed a system that for each presentation and a full-time staff could process large amounts of data and person to manually monitor the processors. present it in formats that RDI could easily
  3. 3. and extensible applications that manipulate, integrate, and present data. PSC developed the document generation system using Microsoft SQL Server® 2005 data management software with a Web- based user interface built on the Microsoft Visual Studio® 2008 Professional Edition development system and the Microsoft Visual C#® development tool. The system uses Open XML Formats to create the charts and graphs and automatically produce the Office PowerPoint 2007 slide decks (Figure 1). With document generation, users no longer have to load the data into Office Access 2007 files and build each chart, graph, and slide individually. Instead, using Open XML, the system generates the Office PowerPoint 2007 files from the data in SQL Server 2005Figure 1. RDI uses Microsoft customize for each of its customers. And if without having to launch Office PowerPoint Office PowerPoint 2007 and it could, RDI wanted to adopt a solution 2007. This conserves application resources Open XML Formats to create that would reduce costs and provide more and significantly increases system data presentations that time for staff to develop and deliver new performance. include complex charts and services for its customers. graphs with multiple data RDI develops slide templates that can be points. quickly customized with customer logos, Solution colors, and themes, and then merged with In 2008, RDI engaged Microsoft Gold the data in Open XML to create the Office Certified Partner PSC Group, LLC, based in PowerPoint 2007 presentation on a server. Schaumburg, Illinois, to develop a new The system then notifies the user that the system for compiling the Arbitron data and presentation is available for review. Using producing the data presentations. PSC the new system, RDI can significantly developed an entirely new solution, reduce the time it takes to produce a data replacing the previous application presentation. “We were able to improve the automation process with a system it calls application performance so drastically by document generation, which uses the not having to automate PowerPoint, Microsoft Office PowerPoint® 2007 because it’s not involved until the user presentation graphics program and Open actually opens the file,” says John Head, XML Formats to produce the presentations. Director of Enterprise Collaboration at PSC Group, LLC. “We couldn’t have done that Open XML Formats are ISO-standard XML without Open XML. We couldn’t support files, the standard data storage format for document generation on the server with applications in the Microsoft Office 2007 binary formats. It was too hard and it didn’t suites. By using files based on Open XML, always work. Open XML changed that.” developers can more easily produce flexible
  4. 4. “Before, if I doubled the Because Open XML makes it easier for meet our customers’ needs in terms of users to access and manipulate the turnaround time, and it makes our servicenumber of reports, I’d underlying XML of a 2007 Microsoft Office more valuable.” file, PSC developers can find and repairhave to double the issues in less time. If one slide in a Reduced Costsnumber of computers presentation is corrupted, it does not affect Because the new system is so much faster the entire document. and automates many previously manualand double the amount processes, RDI can develop the data presentations without having to dedicate aof time. By building a Benefits full-time staff person to manually monitorscalable solution with By developing a document generation the process. The company will even be able solution using Open XML Formats and to move some permanent staff membersOpen XML, we can Office PowerPoint 2007, RDI can produce from the project to other priorities, such as more data presentations in less time, while interactions with customers.expand our service reducing costs and offering more serviceswithout creating extra to more customers. And by taking “We’re going to save at least a full-time advantage of development efficiencies, the person,” says Greenspan. “By using Opencosts.” company will save more money and time as XML, we’re going to save two-thirds on it expands the project into other parts of labor that we would have needed to handle Marc Greenspan, Partner, Research Director, Inc. the organization. so many clients in the new three-day delivery window, not to mention the extra Faster Production equipment we would have had to buy.” Having to produce data presentations more than once a month instead of once every Market Differentiation three months, RDI could no longer afford RDI anticipates that it will enhance its several weeks to complete the process. market position using the new system. By Using its new document generation taking advantage of the flexibility of Open solution, the company can now produce XML, the company will be able to add new fully customized Office PowerPoint 2007 customers to the system quickly and easily, slide decks from Arbitron data in just 10 without having to modify the document minutes, instead of the hours it took to generation application. All the company will produce them with the previous application have to do is add the radio station’s logo automation process. and themes to the slide templates, and it will be able to provide customized data In fact, RDI can develop presentations that presentations for the new customer. incorporate more data for more radio stations in just 24 hours from the time the “Before, if I doubled the number of reports, audience data is available. I’d have to double the number of computers and double the amount of “We will receive the data at noon on time,” says Greenspan. “By building a Tuesdays, and we can now have all those scalable solution with Open XML, we can reports processed, ready to go, and sitting expand our service without creating extra in our client’s e-mail boxes at noon and costs.” one second on Wednesday,” says Greenspan. “That’s a deadline we would Efficient Development never have been able to meet with our old By using Open XML to develop the system. With the new system, we can better document generation solution, PSC created
  5. 5. For More Information benefits for itself as well as its customer. Microsoft Office SystemFor more information about Microsoft First, it will be able to market similar The Microsoft Office system is the businessproducts and services, call the Microsoft solutions to existing and new customers. world’s chosen environment forSales Information Center at (800) 426- And because it can develop the system information work, providing the programs,9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft directly in Open XML without having to servers, and services that help you succeedCanada Information Centre at (877) 568- automate Office PowerPoint 2007, it will be by transforming information into impact.2495. Customers in the United States and much easier to maintain the system basedCanada who are deaf or hard-of-hearing on an open standard. For more information about the Microsoftcan reach Microsoft text telephone Office system, go to:(TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234. “The system won’t be tied to the version of the 50 United States and PowerPoint a customer is using,” says RickCanada, please contact your local Parham, Manager of MicrosoftMicrosoft subsidiary. To access Development at PSC Group, LLC. “I expectinformation using the World Wide Web, we’ll reduce maintenance costs by 90go to: percent because we won’t have to the application each time Microsoft releases a new version of PowerPoint.”For more information about PSC Group,LLC products and services, visit the Web Because PSC developers can access andsite at: modify specific parts of files in Open XML, RDI will experience development savings as the project moves forward. “If a futureFor more information about Research deliverable needs information that we’veDirector, Inc. products and services, visit already created for a PowerPoint file, we’llthe Web site at: be able to get to that data directly reuse those components,” says Parham. Software and Services − Microsoft Visual Studio 2008  Microsoft Office Professional Edition − Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007  Technologies  Microsoft Server Product Portfolio − Open XML Formats − Microsoft SQL Server 2005  Microsoft Visual Studio − Microsoft Visual C#This case study is for informational purposes only.MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS ORIMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.Document published November 2009