Case Study

Freedom Financial Network

A digital transformation strategy for financial services 

Founded in 2002, Freedom Financial Network (FFN) is a leader in the Consumer Financial Services industry focused on debt settlement and resolution, mortgage financing and personal loans. The company, with over 2,400 employees, is headquartered in San Mateo, CA, with additional offices in Tempe, Arizona.

Overview

It is no secret: data shows that employees who feel safe, informed, and happy at work deliver better results and enjoy a richer level of job satisfaction. So, when Freedom Financial Network CIO Mark Tonnesen saw their employee satisfaction scores decreasing, he knew it was time for a change - a true transformation of the business.
As a technology thought leader and operations executive who has created and launched new business models, Tonnesen looked to technology options to develop a business transformation strategy. The goals included producing happy, productive employees along with better planned facilities. The expectation was the option could bridge the physical work experience with data required to inform decisions.

The solution needed to resolve three main challenges:

  1. Improve internal communications across employees and ecosystem community audiences
  2. Drive expense control and facility planning by understanding space utilization
  3. Provide employees with a better sense of physical security on premise.

Tonnesen partnered with local technology services provider Immedia Integrated Technologies in Scottsdale, AZ, and developed an integrated solution built on the Kloudspot Situational Awareness Platform. The custom solution Freedom Financial deployed had amazing impact on both the employees and facility planning. In just one year, Employee Engagement scores improved by 13% Y/Y and the company saved $20M in facilities. Let’s look at the journey.

KLOUDSPOT SOLUTION IMPACT

EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT SCORE
+13% YoY
SAVINGS
USD 20M
Addressing Three Challenges

Mark Tonnessen

CIO – Freedom Financial Network

“Early on,” said Tonnesen, “we especially liked Kloudspot’s accuracy of location information, along with the footfall and time-of-day analysis, GPS, positioning of people & vendors, security-related data, the ability to create and adjust business rules, the robustness of the analytics engine, and the large amount of analytics that can be gleaned from the system. And we appreciated their responsiveness.” Mark continued, “This was precisely the core technology and company we needed for gaining data insights to solve our multiple challenges.”

The core implementation team included three Immedia technicians and a Kloudspot engineer, collaborating with two primary people from FFN, an infrastructure and a content specialist. Tonneson also was personally involved with general guidance and testing of the system as it was being installed. He observed, “We were pleased with the expertise and responsiveness we received at every step from the Immedia’s technicians and Kloudspot’s engineer.”

Challenge #1:

Improve internal communications across employees & ecosystem partners.

Relying on email communications is outdated. It's a world of connected devices, digital displays, and great graphics. Now expectations for variety, choice and high-quality communication experiences are table-stakes in most organizations. Lack of quality, timely communications, across the company’s employees, customers, vendors, maintenance personnel and other stakeholders, was a key reason employee engagement had declined.

Tonnesen sought a solution to control and deliver prompt, customized messaging, including data from disparate sources combined with rich engaging graphics. The content would need to be easily or automatically staged and scheduled, and targeted to segmented, wide-ranging audiences throughout their enterprise. Delivery would need to be across multiple personal devices, as well as displays in lobbies, open areas, conference rooms, and customer and executive areas; and email would be included.

Results:

Implementation started with deploying displays - KloudSpot displays and repurposed existing ones - across the offices in five buildings, for a total of 70 displays across the company. The team proved they could capture information from their CRM system. They then ran important messaging and real-time sales leaderboards in customized graphical format on displays in the company’s widespread geographic locations. “It’s really inspiring to see what full transparency and visibility does to employees.... watching sales numbers grow, watching big deals come in. It really gets employees pumped,” said Tonnesen.
Kloudspot is now enhancing FFN‘s business intelligence as a whole, empowering a wide range of data-driven decisions and countless communications on a daily basis. By improving the content and tying all their communications activities together, they are proactively meeting needs of their employees and ecosystem to be more centrally connected to the company as a whole.

Challenge #2:

Create a better physical workspace for employees.

Buildings and office space today are very expensive. FFN’s six buildings had spaces for customer service agents, engineers, operations and management, and included numerous configurations of conference rooms, open air spaces, and work environments. But was the space being used effectively by employees? It wasn’t clear.

“For future facilities decision-making and space planning,” according to Tonnesen, “we were interested in understanding how, how often, and for how long various areas in the buildings were being used, and by how many people.” Mark continued, “Our company had not long before invested $40M in two new buildings in the Tempe area. But now we were already approaching 90% capacity in these buildings, and even more filled company-wide. As we began to consider a major investment in yet another new building, we came to realize we were doing so without the necessary data and space allocation insights to make the best, informed decisions.”

Thus, company leaders sought a way to gather and analyze building/campus occupancy and traffic information, insisting the resulting analytics and insights be easily accessible and actionable.

Results:

FFN utilized and built on the analytics and extensions that Kloudspot provides with its AI and machine learning. Within weeks they saw that the system and the company could learn many details about its environment. They could see location information, GPS information, conference room density, and more - all for ongoing reference. They learned many building usage insights and started realizing that much more could be obtained.

With better understanding of the actual versus optimal uses of all their environments, FFN is adapting areas for best usage of all the floors and spaces in each building. For example, they’ve been able to discern and accommodate different activities and usage patterns by their engineers, versus how management and customer service agents operate.

Challenge #3:

Provide employees with a better sense of physical security on premise.

With other insights and results coming in quickly, FFN’s interest quickly involved looking at Kloudspot as a potential security solution. What was going on in the parking garages? Are people there safe at night? What weekend activities were they seeing?

Results:

They had an existing video camera system that controls the outer parking perimeter, which fortunately they were quickly able to tie into Kloudspot. Furthermore, they determined the triggers and resulting notifications they would want sent around all the security data they were now seeing.
FFN began slowly and steadily, learning much in their first six months. They’re now expanding with Kloudspot to further implement available capabilities. Trying new things is not difficult. Maintaining and using their Kloudspot system is requiring staffing by two FFN people as a portion of their regular jobs. One individual handles audio-visual aspects - the analytics, the display, setting up rules, and all communications outputs. The other person handles the infrastructure - controlling where the data goes and making sure it is secure.

KloudDisplay - Connected Digital Signage at work

KloudDisplay Digital Signage working

Image

Freedom Financial entry way

Benefits and impact

With Kloudspot integration FFN is seeing results in line with, or exceeding, original objectives. Communications to stakeholders has clearly expanded and improved. With a better understanding and use of their space, they have also improved their facility and safety-related decision making. Recently they’re discovering newfound ways to gain and communicate insights that hadn’t even been considered previously. Kloudspot is now enhancing FFN‘s business intelligence as a whole, empowering a wide range of data-driven decisions.

“I don’t spend much with Kloudspot on an annual basis, but it is becoming obvious we’ll save 3-4X that amount each year.”

MARK TONNESEN
CIO, Freedom Financial Network

“Digitally transforming their business in this data-driven way is changing employee, management and customer conversations - ultimately satisfaction - at Freedom Financial Network. Their team is now better equipped to articulate the specific value that integrating IT with location awareness delivers at every level - to employees, customers, and business operations”

GUILLERMO DIAZ,
CEO, Kloudspot

By improving the content and tying all their communications activities together, they are proactively meeting needs of their employees and ecosystem. Constituents are more centrally connected to the company as a whole, as reflected in the company’s Employee Engagement scores improving from 69.4% to 82.2% between 2019 and 2020. Mark added, “Our biggest discovery was not actually needing the expensive next new building we had been contemplating! That was major!” Moreover this solution is saving the company from new software expense. Though not necessarily diminishing existing costs, it brings saving from, according to Tonnesen, “not needing to buy other items like dedicated point solutions, and avoiding the additional costs associated with supporting such new undertakings.”
What's next.

With FFN’s situational awareness and confidence growing, they plan to lean-in further with Kloudspot’s continually evolving features. They’ll be ensuring all their support, service, and operations teams are using the insights from the solution, applying them across the business.

COVID Readiness, Returns to Offices: Looking forward, as their employees return to more on-premise work, the company is readying for compliance with evolving health and safety directives - enabling the business to proceed as smoothly as possible. FFN will have not only expanded physical signage and new messaging available, but they’ll also have control points in place to react quickly to fluid situations.

Having already marked out floor spaces with proper social distancing throughout their buildings, the company next wants to input into Kloudspot space calculations for every location in every building in the company. When health-related people-spacing limitations are in place for various areas, they’ll have alarms go off locally (or signs will appear, and notifications will be sent) when too many people or too little spacing is taking place. And if someone tests positive for Covid-19, they’ll do a complete trace back of who they’ve been in contact with in the building over a certain period of time. Mark believes, “we’ll be able to react and respond quickly should certain situations arise. With Kloudspot in place we can iterate, acting quickly and responsibly as needed.”

Only the Beginning: Long term Tonnesen sees, “The biggest opportunity for which we feel we’re only scratching the surface is on the security side - the overall security of our premises. Likewise, we’re considering ways we can use Kloudspot as a marketing tool for our business. When we have executives coming to our locations or when we host events, we want to be able to interactively deliver the right level of content that is germane to that audience.”
The leaders at Freedom Financial Network believe the benefits are only beginning. As they experience first-hand how the digital revolution is transforming their business operations, it positively affects how they manage and articulate the value of their assets - including people, facilities and technology.

Seeing Kloudspot technology is now more ready to enable positive business impact than similar solutions of the past ever were, FFN is confident that moving forward this solution will give them even greater insight. What else is going on in their environment? What they can do better?

They credit Kloudspot as a key business partner. It clearly contributes to their employees feeling safe, informed, and happy at work. Importantly it also can scale to keep meeting the demands of their enterprise now and for years to come.

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