NSoft has always been very aware of the importance of data to the success of its business. Customers are becoming more sophisticated and need meaningful insights into their data to support fast decision making. With hundreds of millions of data records flowing daily through NSoft, and an infrastructure with multiple products, development and business teams, and technology stacks, it became clear to Antonio Džidić, Senior VP of Data Service for NSoft, that far too much effort was spent on preparing data for actual analytical work: “Customers request reporting which we prepared using Excel. It would take us weeks to come up with an initial report because the data would reside on different servers and we’d have to manually extract data from different sources, and consolidate everything before we could even start. To provide true insight, we needed a near real-time overview of our analytics, but that just wasn’t possible with our data infrastructure.”
Recognizing that data provisioning is a thing of the past, and the future lies in unified data analytics, NSoft introduced the NSoft Data Service (NDS) team, based on best practices in governing valuable data and generating value for NSoft, its partners, and customers.
NSoft looked for a data warehouse technology solution that would integrate well with its existing infrastructure, provide near real-time updates, and with the flexibility and scalability to start small and grow as the NDS team streamlines the data flow.
Reviewing press reports and analyst ratings, NSoft investigated the market, and arrived at Vertica Analytics Platform. Vertica was evaluated alongside other solutions that were deemed not stable, scalable, or mature enough to meet NSoft’s requirements. With a small team, a simple set-up and maintenance was very important, as Džidić explains: “Because we didn’t really know what our destination would be at that point, we needed a solution that was completely flexible in its licensing and deployment options. When we performed a proof-of-concept (POC) with support of local Vertica partner Poslovna Inteligencija, Vertica was the only solution to work straight out-of-the-box with an intuitive and user-friendly interface. We were excited by the possibilities of in-database machine learning and could see the potential for predictive modelling and forecasting.”
Although the POC was small-scale, NSoft was delighted to discover that Vertica showed the same high performance once fully implemented. Vertica integrates with many existing solutions, including leading data streaming technology Apache Kafka. For its data warehouse, NSoft chose data streaming rather than ETL processes. This way, pipeline data is enriched and transformed to ensure data compliance and quality. It also minimizes data cleansing overhead. Vertica also integrates with Elasticsearch, an Open Source distributed search and analytics engine, for near real-time data insights.
Tableau is deployed as the main visualization solution, and Vertica also links too many data sources, including MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQLite, CSV, etc. This was a key point for NSoft, as Džidić comments: “Vertica’s ease of integration and flexible deployment enabled us to implement a data warehouse solution without disrupting core product development. Instead, we built a new system which integrated completely with the existing one, and expanded this without impacting product plans.”
Advanced analytics are currently not common in the betting industry, but the NDS team has developed workflows that consume and digest huge amounts of data. This enables them to streamline dashboard generation into a selection of near real-time report packages offered to all customers and partners. NSoft also consults with customers to really understand their business, capture their Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and build customized dashboards to support their data-driven decision making process. Through these near real-time reports, customers receive direct insight into players’ behavior, which helps recruit new ones, as well as retaining existing ones. By identifying the reasons for player churn, NSoft provides customers with actionable insight to improve their business results and give players the best possible experience.
One of the ways advanced analytics provides value is by improving the existing product portfolio. Through statistical analysis and testing product logic, malicious player behavior and positive player feedback is leveraged to improve the product experience. Džidić explains further: “Based on our Vertica-driven analyses and observations, we’ve made improvements to our virtual games which have led to greater product brand awareness, and far better player retention.”
With a four-year growth rate of 1,760 percent, NSoft is among the top five fastest growing tech companies in Central Europe.* It has also been nominated for best betting company in three categories for the industry’s leading B2B awards: EGR Global.
Džidić concludes: “Vertica helps us provide better business results for our customers, and live up to our mission statement: ‘we will not provide data; we will provide value!’”
*Deloitte’s Fast 50 competition 2018