Qlik enables a Frictionless Migration to AWS Cloud
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 difficult to access. 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.
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 Modelling 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 moving to the cloud, we had to be selective as to which data we updated; we never had adequate access to real-time data for each business unit. Our systems were also separate, which prevented us from taking advantage of machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI). Being on-premise meant we often had to purchase new servers to support the separate systems, but many of these servers were underutilized. In short, our tools no longer fit our needs and didn’t enable us to provide real-time data to the entire company.
We determined that moving to the cloud would provide several benefits:
- Our ecosystem could scale with the needs of the business, eliminating the need to buy additional servers constantly.
- It would allow for multiple access points with high-level performance, no matter the number of users.
- We could save money since exploring new possibilities on the cloud is far less expensive than 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. By eliminating lags of up to a day, data would be available in near real-time so we could model more accurately while also saving time.
One Problem: How to Replicate and Integrate Our Data
We ran into an unexpected issue on our move to the cloud. Though we had run some proofs of concept beforehand, when we started to move the volume of data we needed, our incumbent solution wasn’t able to keep up. We began to evaluate other solutions with our supplier. We landed on Qlik Data Integration, which includes Qlik Replicate, as the best solution for us. This was made an easier choice as we were already using Qlik Analytics successfully.
There were several things we immediately liked about Qlik Data Integration. First was its speed and the volume of data it can handle. Qlik would give us access to real-time data and allow us to exploit the data as we wanted. Second, Qlik Replicate would enable us to migrate data without impacting the originating database. The company had always feared that extracting information could negatively affect the sales systems and thus the stores’ performance. Using Qlik Replicate had no impact at all, so we could officially lay that fear to rest. Finally, Qlik 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 Data Integration and use 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 Qlik Partner, INSA, for their specialized knowledge. They have the best professionals for a Qlik 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 Data Integration has been an incredible enablement solution 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 we’ve deployed on AWS cloud, it has greater elasticity than other tools, meaning it can grow organically with our needs.
This elasticity also applies across Qlik’s solutions, not only on the technical side, but also for the end user. Using Qlik Replicate is effortless, it’s very easy for us to add tables or perform other data integrations. We are delighted by how the tool works and how easy it is to manage. Today, we manage a large volume of data with Qlik Replicate, handling over 1 billion changes (inserts, updates, and deletions) on a daily basis. Using Qlik Analytics doesn’t require much technical knowledge, despite its complex technical capabilities. 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 growing.
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.