Sportium established well-known retail and digital sales channels. However, with legacy technology and separate Business Intelligence (BI) systems for each of its key sales channels, it struggled to create the visibility needed for comprehensive data analytics. Fabian Bo, CTO, Sportium, explains further: “Our BI systems were managed by third parties and we supplemented their service with our own Excel-based analysis. This was not very effective, and we also had security concerns; outsourcing the management of data that was so key to running our business. We really wanted to become data-driven, giving us real-time information to dynamically adjust our parameters, but that wasn’t possible within our infrastructure; we could only access static reports.”
Sportium needed a solution they could manage in-house to consolidate and analyze data from all different sales channels in real-time, to cross-check data and extract key insights. It wanted to create integration between different data sources, such as CRM systems, and other third party data analysis solutions.
The Sportium data volumes are impressive: over 350,000 daily transactions result from 60,000 betting events each month. 15,000 casino games are played each hour, and every day 50,000 games of poker go through Sportium’s systems. This results in 48.5 billion data rows, housed in 630 tables with 11,630 columns. The management of big data and the protection of sensitive customer data has become an essential part of doing business. The gaming industry has recognized this and Sportium was prepared to invest in its future.
Abel Martínez, BI Manager, and his team searched the market place for a solution and evaluated several technology providers including Google BigQuery, Amazon RedShift, SAP Hana, Teradata Aster, and Vertica. Sportium needed a scalable solution with a predictable cost model. Sportium also didn’t want to be locked into a single cloud provider. This excluded Google BigQuery and Amazon RedShift in the early stages of the evaluation. Teradata Aster, initially a frontrunner against many criteria, was cost-prohibitive. SAP Hana is an in-memory database with vertical scaling. In the Sportium scenario this makes it an expensive option. Vertica scales horizontally on commodity hardware, offering Sportium a lower total cost of ownership (TCO).
Using a number of other selection criteria, Vertica scored highest. Abel Martínez comments: “We were impressed with Vertica’s incredible data loading speed. We could query our giant data tables very quickly, filtering by any column, without the need for data indexing. We liked the wide integration capability offered with the Vertica platform. This would give us the opportunity to integrate with Hadoop, as well as the rest of our BI platform, to add data sources to our analysis work. Vertica offered us an on-premise option which allowed us to control our costs tightly, and it is scalable enough to match the anticipated growth for Sportium and meet any future requirements.”
The Sportium team liked Vertica’s easy project design and the potential for customization. With hands-on support from Vertica, Sportium developed an in-house managed Data Warehouse consolidating all historical data from the retail and digital channels. The Sportium Vertica data warehouse contains data from different operational databases, managed through Pentaho and Tableau. Pentaho Data Integration, codenamed Kettle, consists of a core data integration (ETL) engine, and GUI applications that allow the user to define data integration jobs and transformations. It is used to transform and load data into Vertica consistently.
Data can now be consumed by users in different ways. Tableau is leveraged to build user reports. With almost 400 different Tableau workbooks, users can always find the particular report criteria they need, without requiring any IT or Development support. Vertica also integrates with existing Excel reports, to ease the transition for users.
And, finally, a Pentaho portal enables Sportium franchisees or associates to access the data when and where they need it. The portal also allows integration with partners’ own systems so that they can consume information automatically and include it in their own data analysis. Fabian Bo comments: “Our franchisee model is the key to our success. Happy partners are the best way to expand our business. We already deliver a high quality product to our partners, and with Vertica we can provide them with accurate real-time reporting and, using the data analytics, give them guidance and ideas for improving their business. It helps us create a more positive customer experience.”
Sportium intends to add new data from internal and external data sources, such as CRM data and data captured directly from the betting terminals, to build a more comprehensive 360˚ customer view. Leveraging Vertica storage and speed capabilities, this will provide enriched analytics data to business analysts and business partners, enabling them to develop new products, react to market changes, and improve the customer experience. Sportium has started to explore the Vertica native in-database predictive analytics and machine learning capabilities, as the key tool to automate complex analysis and decision making for marketing and sales purposes.
A consolidated view of the customer across different sales channels means Sportium can make effective, timely and well-informed business decisions, while lowering the cost of marketing and selling.
Fabian Bo is very pleased with the progress made: “Our main objective was to manage our current data challenges, but also to prepare for the future by becoming a truly data-driven organization. We now have a consolidated and secure Vertica data warehouse, run by our franchisees themselves. We manage large data volumes through a scalable infrastructure which is entirely customizable by the end users, with self-service data analytics.”
He concludes: “The size and complexity of this project should not be underestimated. We received great support from Micro Focus and reached a position where we are the envy of other leading technology companies managing big data. We look forward to our continued partnership.”