A Frictionless Migration to Qlik Cloud Analytics

Qlik

When you’re a company with multiple divisions and brands, it can be hard to come together and move simultaneously toward a shared goal. That becomes even more difficult when data is dispersed and inaccessible. At Empresas SB, we started on a digital journey that was about more than digitizing data. We wanted to integrate, explore, and exploit that data across all divisions to benefit the whole company.


Empresas SB is a Chilean group of health and beauty retail companies dedicated to making people feel good wherever they are. Our numerous brands include Salcobrand, PreUnic, Medcell, Recetario Magistral, Pharma Benefitsm, DBS, and MakeUp—some of which are the largest chains in their category in the country. Empresas SB employs nearly 10,000 people, with around 600 points of sale. 

When data is dispersed and inaccessible, it can be hard for companies to move simultaneously toward a shared goal.


As Business Intelligence and Advanced Analytics Manager at Empresas SB, I give our various subsidiaries the tools and information they need to make better decisions. In 2019, that meant addressing the corporate challenge of moving our entire data infrastructure to the cloud to allow us to work with more data and analytic models. 

Moving to the Cloud Would Take Our Modeling to the Next Level

As with any company of our size, we have a lot of data. We did a good job creating visualizations of that data, but we wanted to go beyond visualizations. Empresas SB prides itself on having a strong service culture that’s creative and innovative. We embarked on our digital transformation journey to move beyond the limitations of traditional data processes and take things to the next level. 


Before, we had to be selective in which data we updated in near-real time. Because everything else updated less frequently, we never had adequate access to real-time data for the entire company. Our systems were also separate, meaning we couldn’t take advantage of machine learning (ML) or artificial intelligence (AI). Being on-premise, we had to purchase new servers to support these separate systems, and these servers were underutilized. Our tools no longer fit our existing needs and wouldn’t enable us to provide real-time data to the entire company.


What about moving to the cloud? There were several benefits: 

  • Our ecosystem could scale with the needs of the business instead of constantly needing to buy more servers. 
  • It would allow for multiple access points with high-level performance, no matter the number of users. 
  • Exploring new possibilities is very cheap on the cloud compared to the expense of testing on older machines. 
  • Operating on the cloud would allow us to not only replicate the company’s entire transactional volume, but to know when it was replicated. We had already experienced some data lags of up to a day. We required all this transactional data to be available in near real-time for modeling. 

One Problem: How to Replicate and Integrate Our Data

 We started moving forward with our transition to the cloud, but ran into an unexpected issue. We had run some proofs of concept beforehand, but when we started to move the volume of data we needed, our chosen solution didn’t work as we expected. When we began to look for an alternative option, our suppliers at the time showed us Qlik Cloud Data Integration which includes the Data Movement service.


There were several things we liked about Qlik Cloud Data Integration. First was its speed and the volume of data it can handle, which would give us access to real-time data and allow us to exploit the data as we intended. Second, Qlik Cloud's Data Movement service would enable us to migrate data without impacting the originating database. There had always been a fear at the company that extracting information could affect the sales systems. This scenario had never happened, but if it did, our stores couldn’t perform as they should. Using Qlik Cloud's Data Movement service had no impact at the origin, so we could officially lay that fear to rest. Finally, Qlik Cloud Data Integration was easy to use, and tools that are easy to use get adopted throughout an organization rather than staying siloed. This ease of use would put us in a better position to increase our number of users along the way.


We adopted Qlik Cloud Data Integration and used Qlik Replicate to move all our data. We were among the first companies in our region to implement this solution, so we took advantage of a local partner, INSA, for their specialized knowledge. They have the best professionals for a Qlik Cloud Data Integration implementation and worked hand in hand with Qlik. INSA supported us through the proof of concept, which took only two weeks. And during implementation, they made a complex project very straightforward, ensuring its success. It took us about a month and a half to build the ecosystem and test different versions. At the end of that testing, we realized we needn’t have worried: We had made the transition without disrupting our systems.  

We Can See the Company Holistically and Make Decisions in Real Time

Qlik Cloud Data Integration has been an incredible enablement tool for Empresas SB. In the years since we started our digital transformation project, we haven’t seen another platform with the same versatility and benefits. Regardless of the volume, we have data replicated and available to consume in seconds, without impacting our originating databases. And because it’s on the cloud, it has greater elasticity than other tools, meaning it can grow organically with our needs. 

Cloud-based solutions have greater elasticity than other tools, meaning they can grow organically with a company's needs.


This elasticity is true not only on the technical side but also for the user end. It’s effortless to add tables or perform other data integrations. We are delighted by how the tool works and how easy it is to manage. Despite its complex technical capabilities, using Qlik Cloud Analytics doesn’t require much technical knowledge. It’s a visual tool that makes data easy to understand. That simplicity is a key differentiator from other solutions. It has allowed us to grow our user base to more than 100, and we are still training more users. 


Since migrating everything to the cloud, we now see a holistic picture of company operations in real time. We have started working on ML models to understand factors that could impact the performance of our teams, stores, and channels. We continue to add more data, exploring options and finding new ways to leverage it. And since the data is always available, we can make decisions in real time, too. We couldn’t have done this without Qlik.


Not everyone is in the same place in their data transformation journey. Regardless of your stage, it’s essential to understand your company’s critical processes and how they add value to the business. Understanding those will ensure the next steps of any project fits the company’s needs. We at Empresas SB required a more complete view of our data to get more out of it, and we needed to gain that access in a frictionless, easy-to-use way. Qlik delivered on all counts, and we can continue to boost all of our brands and maximize our market share because of the knowledge we’ve gained.