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A Case Study on Building Modern Analytics Architectures That Scale

Author: Jeff Schodowski | | November 17, 2021


 

As data volumes continue to grow, the systems and architectures need to evolve. This is especially important for companies that rely on analytics to drive business insights and executive decisions.

 
Without accessible data, decision makers can miss major opportunities to identify opportunities, build customer satisfaction, and get ahead of the competition.

Most likely, your company has shifted their approach to data and analytics. The tools and techniques started out as a straightforward function of IT, but became more complex as your organization scaled into the business it is today. Have you updated your systems to support applications and tools that can scale as you move from SMB to midmarket to enterprise?

Recognizing the Need for Change

Datavail works with organizations that face similar challenges. In one example, a multimedia nonprofit used several technologies for data storage and analysis to enable them to fundraise, track radio streaming, and measure the efficacy of their marketing – SQL Server, Tableau, Microsoft BI, and Alteryx. They had used these tools for years with a small IT team to support them. As data volumes grew, more teams needed to access reports, and the data environment became more complex, they realized that the existing architecture couldn’t provide the quality and accessibility they needed.

They decided it was time to build a modern analytics environment that could support their needs now and into the future.

Identifying Core Challenges

Our team at Datavail came in to help them accomplish this. We began by diving into the details of the exact issues they were experiencing:

  • The data warehouse had obscure field names, forcing all reporting requests to go through a data scientist, rather than enabling the user to create their own reports.
  • External data was siloed and not integrated into the warehouse for trend analysis or for other types of market analysis.
  • Existing analytics were insufficient for understanding how the pledge drives were performing, who was responding to outreach, and who their best fundraising prospects were.
  • They couldn’t capture the royalty data they needed to support their multimedia assets.
  • On-premises systems were costly.
  • Performance issues with the existing system affected the efficiency of the nonprofit.
  • Due to a monolithic architecture, cost effective experimentation was difficult to execute and this led to missed opportunities.

 

As an organization that depended on fundraising and donors, getting the analytics piece of the puzzle back on track was imperative. The small IT team they had on staff had strong skills, but not in data warehousing and analytics, specifically. They needed Datavail’s help to close the gap.

Not all consultants are created equal. Our battle-proven analytics consultants bring the extra skills and knowledge transfer necessary to make successful projects happen.

Bringing Modern Analytics Solutions to the Table

After analyzing the environment and discussing the nonprofit’s technology goals, we determined the best solution would be to build a data warehouse in Snowflake on top of the Microsoft Azure cloud. This solution would leverage the benefits of Snowflake’s efficiency and high performance while also taking advantage of the ETL and dashboarding features of Microsoft Azure Data Factory and Power BI.

The high-level goals of the new architecture were to:

  • Improve the flexibility, scalability and overall capabilities of the data warehouse to support business reporting and analytics.
  • Provide clean and consistent data to the data science team for external analysis.
  • Improve and reduce the support structure to make the solution easily supportable by the existing team.
  • Protect PCI and PII data in a secure manner.
  • Leverage the cloud to reduce capital costs.
  • Provide immediate value to the organization’s digital business while extending the solution to other lines of business.

 

In short, we used the lift and shift method to move their analytics into Snowflake, and then re-architected the systems to meet the needs and goals of the business. We implemented critical data warehousing processes, validated, cleaned, and normalized the data, integrated data marts and other tools, and set up reporting views and dashboards among other important tasks.

Assessing the Results of the New Data Warehouse

So what? What was the benefit of all this work? Well, the nonprofit now has an accessible, scalable, highly efficient data warehousing solution that enables them to track data in real-time and execute high-level analysis across the three key units of the business. Data quality has greatly improved, reporting is now accessible by everyone who needs it, and, most importantly, they have to-the-minute insight into their campaigns, target market, and fundraising effectiveness. They also have Datavail’s experienced team behind them to support the solution and make continual improvements with the growth of the business.

To read the entire case study of how this organization achieved these results, download the white paper, “Multimedia Nonprofit Improves Fundraising with Snowflake.” If you want to take advantage of cutting-edge technologies to build a modern analytics environment, contact our experienced team. We can help you turn your data into a strategic asset that drives revenue.

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