Global property consultancy Knight Frank wanted to enhance client service by helping its experts successfully combine geospatial data with other sources of information. In 2012, it upgraded its existing data management software to Microsoft SQL
Server 2012, and combined this with use of Bing Maps for Enterprise. The firm has already seen an increase in productivity, with new application development time reduced from months to weeks.
Knight Frank, which is headquartered in London, is a leading independent global property consultancy. Its staff handle more than U.S.$700 billion worth of commercial, agricultural, and residential real estate a year, advising all kinds of clients, from individual
owners and buyers to investors and corporate tenants. The continuing success of the business depends on the rapid delivery of comprehensive, accurate information—supported by quality opinion and advice.
||The new features in Microsoft SQL Server 2012 will help us develop external websites and applications in weeks rather than months.
| Adam Siejka
Database Development Manager
Knight Frank relies on geospatial data to run its business. However, its London residential development team found it difficult to share geospatial data with both internal and external sources. Adam Siejka, Database Development Manager, Knight Frank, says:
“Geospatial support is a key concern for us because we deal with properties and use both external and mobile applications.”
Until recently, the company’s knowledge about residential development opportunities was gathered from local authorities’ town planning information, combined with the firm’s own data. It used manual processes, which were often inconsistent. Siejka says: “While
the depth of the data was good, the ability to analyse and share insights was limited, leading to data quality and integrity issues.”
The needs of the London residential development team corresponded with a review at Knight Frank of its existing data management software. The firm wanted to improve mobile working, ease collaboration, and guarantee always-on data availability.
Joseph Megkousoglou, Lead Software Architect, Knight Frank, considered several alternatives to upgrading the existing Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 deployments, including Oracle.
Working with Microsoft Partner itelligence, Knight Frank upgraded to Microsoft SQL Server 2012. The advanced integration, reporting, and analysis capabilities—combined with Bing Maps for Enterprise—provided the platform for building a reporting and analysis
tool for the London residential development team. Andy Steer, Director—Business Analytics, itelligence, says: “The Knight Frank team operates only within the M25, but the intention was to build a proof of concept capable of reuse for other teams, applications,
and websites. We produced a solution based on Microsoft SQL Server 2012 within 15 days.”
The first step in this process was to develop an application based on Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 Enterprise, to give access to rich data on residential development opportunities in London. Steer says: “The interface for both internal data capture and
initial analysis within the solution is delivered by SharePoint Server 2010, with dynamic maps provided by Bing Maps for Enterprise.”
The London team can use maps to either find an existing development site or add a new one. Key development information can then be amended to reflect the added value that the team’s specific knowledge of the site represents. The filtering and segmentation
capabilities of the application can then be used to drive deeper level reporting and analysis provided by Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Reporting Services and Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Power View.
The London residential development team at Knight Frank now has better quality, more dynamic information to support its advice to clients. The unified toolset in SQL Server 2012 means Knight Frank staff are working more productively without relying on manual
systems. As a result, the company can operate an effective online service for customers, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Development time for external websites cut from months to weeks. The success of the proof of concept with the team will result in productivity gains throughout the business. Siejka says: “The new features in Microsoft SQL Server 2012 will
help us develop external websites and applications in weeks rather than months.”
Speed, accuracy, and efficiency bolster service to customers.With the new application and enhanced geospatial data, the London residential development team at Knight Frank is experiencing greater customer
satisfaction. Liam Bailey, Head of Residential Research, Knight Frank, says: “We’ve improved collaboration among our experts, who can now deliver an even better service, which is faster and more accurate.”
AlwaysOn feature in SQL Server 2012 ensures high availability. Megkousoglou says: “The AlwaysOn feature helps deliver maximum uptime and data availability, which is a key requirement for a global business operating 24 hours a day, seven
days a week.”
Microsoft Partner delivers knowledge transfer to in-house developers. Trusted adviser itelligence has successfully transferred specialist knowledge during the deployment of SQL Server 2012. Siejka says: “Having begun with a beta version
of SQL Server 2012, itelligence has helped us with the integration work with Bing Maps for Enterprise, as well as mentoring, workshops, and co-development.”
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