The effort has begun to pay off in several areas. One of the most dramatic improvements has been in Kelley's car valuations, which are based on a far richer data set than before, Hushman said. From updating car values once every five months, Kelley now updates values every week for more than 20,000 vehicles. "We could do it on a daily basis if we wanted to," he said.
Kelley's efforts to mine social media and web data such as weblogs and clickstream data has also greatly improved the company's ability to forecast ad inventory, gauge customer sentiment and predict user behavior.
"If you look at where we have focused our analytics efforts, it has been around two disparate data sets," Ingle said. One of them is about providing better vehicle valuation data, while the other is about the company's Web presence.
One of the more interesting aspects of Kelley's data analytics effort is its focus on social media and text analytics, said Tapan Patel, global marketing manager for SAS' predictive analytics and data mining group. It's rare for companies, especially of Kelley's size, to get started on social media and text analytics so early in their analytics life-cycles, he said.
Even many larger companies that have been doing data analytics for years are only now beginning to explore how to take advantage of social media and text-mining tools to boost their analytics capabilities, he said.
Jaikumar Vijayan covers data security and privacy issues, financial services security and e-voting for Computerworld. Follow Jaikumar on Twitter at @jaivijayan or subscribe to Jaikumar's RSS feed. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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