Case Study: Data & Analytics
SITUATION & BUSINESS CHALLENGE
A business-travel subsidiary of a global online travel conglomerate with a substantial presence in North America, EMEA, and APAC was managing its Global Customer Operations call-center data differently in each region. As the business matured, leaders realized the need for a dashboard view of critical global KPIs (key performance indicators) aggregated across each regional platform, but the inconsistency in data management practices made this a difficult objective to achieve.
The company’s high-touch call-center representatives would respond to and process travel requests through phone and email, whose 100 GB of total data was managed in an assortment of regional solutions:
- North America: Call and email data were mainly stored and processed in SQL Server, with front-end data visualization and reporting in Tableau.
- EMEA: Call data was recorded and tracked in a separate SQL Server instance, and email data was handled by the Eptica management suite.
- APAC: Call data was recorded and tracked in another SQL Server instance, while Eptica was used for email.
Because of the use of disparate systems from region to region, KPIs were calculated and reported differently. Additionally, sparse documentation was produced for email data in EMEA and APAC, with inconsistent labeling of tables and fields in the back-end and front-end. Mapping call and email data from all these systems and uniting it into a dashboard would require a Herculean effort.
As business leaders tasked the company’s internal IT team to create the dashboard, the team began the process of creating performance-level APIs to unify, process, and present the data for global KPIs, beginning with solidifying the North American solution of SQL Server and Tableau. However, the team ran into significant roadblocks when trying to marry the EMEA and APAC data into the North American solution and realized the urgent need for outside consulting help.
The team turned to AIM Consulting, a trusted partner with a long-standing business relationship with the parent company, providing professional services consulting talent to a variety of different departments.
A data visualization expert from AIM Consulting’s Data & Analytics practice led a dynamic project that united the regional call and email data seamlessly into a global dashboard.
AIM began by analyzing the wireframe structure of the North American dashboard and using it as a model for how the global dashboard would perform and appear. Then, following a thorough analysis and cataloging of data from the EMEA and APAC call and email systems, AIM developed a plan to clean the data to make it consistent for processing on a global level.
In conjunction with the company’s IT team, AIM chose SQL Server as the ultimate landing zone to process the global data. Eptica would continue to be leveraged for email data and tracking in EMEA and APAC, but that data would be stored in Redshift, a data warehouse solution on AWS. This critical step preserved a large existing investment in Eptica and would assist in funneling all of the global data into SQL Server for processing.
To bring the data into a single system, the data visualization expert devoted much of his time on the formidable task of marrying the unmatched data with similar IDs and calculating a uniform data spread across all the regions. The effort was particularly challenging with mapping Eptica email data from the front-end to back-end, requiring new logic to account for numerous hidden tables and large amounts of dissimilar data.
AIM created a series of ETLs to extract the regional data into the SQL Server landing zone for processing. When users request reports from the dashboard, SQL Server then processes the necessary data and creates views for final presentation in Tableau.
As the project evolved and business leaders realized the power of the united data, they requested new KPIs and other metrics to be available in the new dashboard. Because of the way AIM designed the dashboard, these requests could be met dynamically without the need to disable it during updates.
A major value-add to the dashboard created by AIM is a customizable tab where users can choose from a variety of dimensions and measures for presentation in Tableau, according to their needs. This feature empowers a broader user base throughout the company, from account managers and team leads, to supervisors and the business unit. (AIM Consulting has used a similar rationale to present customized results for Power BI reports.)
Because data privacy is a huge concern around the world, and particularly in the EU with GDPR, AIM helped to ensure that all data gathered and processed is company-internal data and not customer-facing.
The new dashboard has enabled massive efficiency gains in report derivation. Reports in the now-retired separate North American dashboard would require 7–8 minutes to render; that time has been reduced to under a minute in the new dashboard.
With the new global dashboard, business leaders can now rapidly perform side-by-side comparisons of regions and different points of sale to see the health of their teams and determine how and why things might be different between them. For the first time, new logic is being defined that’s standardized across all three regions. The Tableau visualizations are a powerful way of experiencing and consuming this data.
Planning is made easier at the team, country, regional, and global levels as well. The global data view also has enabled incentive programs for agents, with the ability to determine the top 10 agents performing at a particular point of sale. Many similar incentive programs have already been driven from the dashboard.
The dashboard tab that allows users to create their own reports prevents them from having to pull data separately for this effort. The feature has proven so popular that workers and managers are requesting it for all future dashboards.
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