Red Hat Takes Customer Service to Next Level With Predictive Analytics

Red Hat's core business isn't software. It's actually customer service, and in order to take it to the next level the company turned to a domestic outsourcing provider to solve customer problems before they happen using predictive big data analytics.

By Stephanie Overby
Wed, January 29, 2014

CIO — You might think that Red Hat's core business is software. But to company leaders, it's actually customer service. The better the support, the greater the competitive advantage in the open source market.

Red Hat, domestic outsourcing, IT outsourcing

To take customer service to the next level, Red Hat wanted to apply predictive analytics to its large customer service data sets in order to make its support function more proactive.

Tom Mirc, senior manager of business systems at Red Hat, was charged with overhauling Red Hat's customer service portal. But his team had its hands full with running the Red Hat's systems -- applications support, operations management, bug fixes -- and had little time for rethinking them.

"I have a very highly qualified development team, but they were bogged down in operational response," Mirc explains. "There was no way I could pull them out of their current roles."

Red Hat Chooses Catalyst IT Services as Outsourcing Partner

So Mirc looked outside the company for help. He had a few requirements for an outsourcing partner. They had to be capable of doing exploratory and leading edge development work. They needed to understand how customers interacted with current systems. And they had to be able to hit the ground running.

That led Mirc to Catalyst IT Services, a Baltimore, Md.-based agile development provider. "We looked at a variety of staff augmentation options as well as the rural outsourcing market," says Mirc. "Catalyst had a unique value proposition; they could find the talent we needed and mobilze them on an ultra-aggressive time frame."

Raleigh, N.C.-based Red Hat had built its own offshore teams in Pune, India, and Brno, Czech Republic, to handle IT operations and application development. But Mirc wanted a team closer to home. He had partnered with a rural IT service provider to assess the company's quality assurance infrastructure, but knew they weren't capable of a scalable Hadoop deployment.

Catalyst Helps Red Hat Improve Cusotmer Service with 'Subscriber Stickiness'

Catalyst got to work building what Mirc calls "subscriber stickiness" into the portal (itself an amalgamation 18 different application integrated via services-oriented architecture) -- from enabling customer to integrate directly with back-end APIs to serving them customized content to building in automated diagnostic capabilities.

They were able to identify customers at an account and user level and begin to analyze their patterns of behavior. The goal was to provide customers with answers to problems they didn't even know they had yet.

"We want our customers to understand there are many attributes of their support subscription. They may think of Red Hat support as just an insurance policy when something goes horribly wrong," Mirc says. "It's more than that. We want to give them the ability to proactively solve their issues or anticipate them."

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