Insight Enterprises Inc., a multibillion-dollar technology services firm, launched three decades ago with its roots in a college business plan forged by co-founders and brothers Tim and Eric Crown.
Starting out under the moniker Hard Drives International, the brothers built a company that provided the information technology products its customers needed to operate their businesses, forging the basis of its forte as a provider of IT supply chain services. Among its core competency: A supply chain optimization system and online procurement technology—including customizable web portals for clients in North America—covering purchases of products ranging from desktop computers to cloud-based data center technology. It is a major value-added reseller of products from such major companies as Adobe Systems Inc., Hewlett Packard Enterprises, Cisco Systems Inc. and Microsoft Corp.
The company, which went public in 1995 under its current name, now operates across the globe with more than 6,000 employees and operations in 20 countries. Sales for the first nine months of 2018 increased 8% to $5.3 billion from $4.9 billion a year earlier. Sales in 2017 increased 22% to $6.7 billion from $5.5 billion in 2016.
A journey to help digital transformation
But in the past couple of years, it has set out to rework its future based on a broader scope of cloud-based products and services, with a sharpened focus on helping companies of various types and sizes transform into digitally competent enterprises. “We’ve been known more for our value-added reseller capabilities, but over the course of the last 18 to 24 months we’ve been on a journey to transform into more of a systems integrator providing a breadth of solutions to our clients,” says Jamie Werve, director of e-commerce strategy. “Many client companies are in a state of having to pivot and see how they can differentiate from competitors.”
Among the changes Insight has made in recent years were acquisitions of such complementary businesses as Blue Metal, Ignia and Cardinal that offer products and services—including artificial intelligence, internet of things (IoT) and cloud-based applications—designed to help companies with digital transformation projects and strategies. These have extended Insight’s range of available products, now numbering “well over a half million,” Werve says, adding that Insight partners with more than 5,000 technology providers worldwide.
Offering that scope of products—while also pushing its own transformation to offering more system integration services—has created a new challenge for Insight to get the right products and services in front of customers when they’re looking to purchase. Its e-commerce site, Insight.com, is central to meeting that effort, Werve says. “The challenge now and in the future is to strike a balance between appropriate online content and our products.”
Insight is using a number of tools, including data analytics and its content management system, to make its e-commerce site better tuned to customer interests. “We have a variety of tools integrated into our website, and we’re leveraging that ecosystem to serve the client experience,” Werve says. “There’s a lot of complexity behind the scenes; we ensure that what our customers see is simple and the optimal experience.”
Personalization wins over customers
Werve said she wasn’t free to name all of Insight’s website tools, but noted that the company has been working with web personalization technology from RichRelevance to compile data from its technology partners and customer activity to better recommend through cross-selling and upselling offers for such new products as artificial intelligence and machine learning applications. AI and machine learning technology is designed to use data from ongoing software transactions and other sources to predict likely results, such as how likely particular customers will respond to marketing offers or click to purchase online recommendations.
Insight has used the RichRelevance-driven recommendations on its website, including on landing pages tied to email or search marketing campaigns.
Over the past year, Werve says, Insight has seen a more than 63.6% increase in the clickthrough rate for product recommendations—and a 3.5% increase in sales from product recommendations.
Although Werve notes that these increases may be tied to multiple efforts Insight has made in improving how it interacts with customers, “we would definitely say that RichRelevance helped us realize these increases—it’s a core part of us being able to provide relevant, personalized recommendations to users.” Insight also uses RichRelevance and other tools to test which personalized content works most effectively at engaging website visitors.
RichRelevance doesn’t publicize the pricing of its technology applications, which its customers access via a web browser under a software-as-a-service model. RichRelevance charges a flat annual SaaS subscription fee based on the usage of products in its software suite; on the size, complexity and volume of customer activity on a client’s website; and on a client’s volume of online revenue.
More revenue and leads
Other metrics Insight has recorded as a result of personalized content include:
- a 69% year-over-year increase in revenue generated from personalized content on its homepage;
- a 275% increase in marketing qualified leads from campaigns coordinated with technology partners;
- a 78% year-over-year increase in sales generate from recommendations on product detail pages.
Although Tim Crown continues with Insight as its chairman, he and Eric have extended their business development to the venture capital firm AZ Crown, where their portfolio companies include such businesses as Avai, a developer of mobile apps, and Eide Bailly (until recently known as Truecloud), a provider of cloud technology and services designed to help manufacturers, distributors and other organizations deploy online technology from such business software vendors as Oracle NetSuite, Salesforce.com Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Sage Group.
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