Farner is taking its political consultancy business in a whole new direction, and it’s all thanks to Kofax Kapow™. After harnessing Kapow to provide clients and their own consultants with faster access to the web content they use to inform research, the agency has now opened up the platform to clients with the launch of IssueManager— a new software-as-a-service offering that helps companies stay up to speed with political affairs in a targeted and efficient way.
When companies need communications solutions that stand out, they turn to Farner. For over 60 years, the agency has delivered public relations services that help clients to strengthen their reputation and competitive edge.
One such service is political consulting, where Farner delivers in-depth research into Swiss political processes, regulations and issues. A range of organizations, including financial services firms, large corporations, non-governmental organizations and more, take advantage of these insights to stay up-to-date with changing political and regulatory conditions, and plan their strategy accordingly.
To inform its research and analysis, Farner’s political consulting team frequently turns to the web to gather the information it requires. In the past, obtaining this data proved to be a laborious and time-consuming process.
Andreas Heizmann, Senior Consultant at Farner, explained, “We monitor political issues and events at all levels of government in Switzerland, from individual municipalities and cantons right up to the federal level.
“Before, when consultants were compiling a new report, they had to go out to government websites and publicly accessible databases, and gather information from these sources manually. The team usually had to visit dozens of sites to collect information for a report; once consultants had the raw data, they would compile it into a spreadsheet, clean it up and then start their analysis.”
He continued, “The entire process was very time-consuming, and it was negatively affecting our competitiveness of our monitoring services. The long cycle times for creating reports translated into higher fees, which could potentially prompt clients to turn to one of our competitors instead. We were very keen to find a way to make data gathering work more efficient—this would free up more time for our consultants to focus on analysis and drive down costs.”
Farner launched a search for a solution that it could use to streamline the extraction, transformation and delivery of web-based content. After evaluating offerings from several vendors, the agency chose Kofax Kapow.
“Out of all the solutions we considered, we felt that Kofax Kapow offered the best fit for our needs,” said Heizmann. “The robotic process automation engine was very strong, and Kofax had a solid set of references. In fact, one of our own clients was already using Kapow and gave us glowing feedback on the solution’s capabilities.”
Farner has harnessed Kapow to build and deploy automated process flows, commonly referred to as robots, which streamline the extraction of data from external sources, such as websites and databases. The Kapow robots also automate data transformation and integration tasks, using business logic and rules, consolidating web content in a single location, where it can be readily accessed and analyzed by users.
Heizmann commented, “Kapow has completely transformed the way we work with information. The solution pulls all the data we need from the web very quickly and loads it up in a central database. On the front end, we have created a very user-friendly interface with smart dashboards and search capabilities, which allows people to easily search for the content they are interested in, filter information based on different criteria and view data in a very straightforward way.”
He added, “We’ve found it easy to get to grips with the Kapow solution. We were able to manage the initial implementation largely on our own, after receiving training from Kofax. And today our internal team can develop and deploy the Kapow robots in a very straightforward way; on average it takes us two to three days to bring a new robot into production.”
Farner has made Kapow’s automated data extraction and integration capabilities available to its clients through a new, value-added software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering called IssueManager.
With IssueManager, clients gain access to the data that Farner gathers on political affairs, enabling them to monitor their issues at all levels of government in a targeted and efficient way. Clients can opt for the standalone SaaS offering or go a step further and add a services package, which gives them access to proprietary analysis and consulting services from Farner’s experts.
“IssueManager is the first fully automated solution for monitoring political issues in Switzerland,” noted Heizmann. “We believe that we have tapped an important gap in the market with IssueManager—presenting customers with an easy way to stay on top of political issues, and at a better price-point than our competitors. We’ve had good uptake since we launched the solution, and now have about a dozen clients using the service.”
With Kapow bringing newfound efficiency to information gathering, both Farner’s political consultants and clients can work faster and more productively than ever before.
“We have accelerated the data extraction, transformation and delivery process by about 90 percent with Kofax Kapow,” said Heizmann.“In addition, the entire process is much more user-friendly: our people no longer have to spend hours visiting different websites to collect information or spend time formatting and consolidating that data, and they no longer have to contend with clunky spreadsheets.
“Kapow does all the heavy lifting for our clients by direct access, and our own consultants can work with the data delivered by Kapow in a very interactive and collaborative way. Users can search according to defined keywords, and the platform delivers all relevant records. Users can then sort the results into distinct categories for easy viewing and management. For instance, if someone wants to gather information on a specific political issue, they can locate all the pertinent records in seconds and then make a deep-dive analysis. Users can also leave comments—a useful capability in cases where multiple people are working on the same report.”
With clients and consultants freed from the burden of repetitive information management work, they have more time to dedicate to value-added work.
Heizmann explained, “Our clients as well as our own political consultants are highly qualified and have considerable expertise in their field. By harnessing Kapow to take on the low-level work of data gathering and integration, we have freed them up to focus on higher-value activities where they can let their skills and experience shine.
While it is still early days for the new offering, Farner believes that IssueManager has the potential to transform its political consulting business model.
Heizmann stated, “We’re finding IssueManager to be a real door-opener when it comes to engaging with new clients. When you sell consultancy services it can sometimes be tricky to reach out and make that first contact with prospects, whereas it’s much easier when you have a tangible software product with clear benefits and pricing.”
He concluded, “With IssueManager, we’re going beyond traditional consultancy services to offer our clients something new and useful; it is really helping to diversify our offerings. And thanks to Kapow, we have the superior information foundation we need to help make this venture a successful one. It’s a step in a completely different direction for our business, and we’re excited to see where the journey takes us.”