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Business analytics tools help music-identifying app uncover insights

After tiring from limited and ineffective Excel reports, app company Shazam turned to Salesforce Wave Analytics to quickly extract insights and create actionable reports from data.

The Shazam music-identifying app helps you name that tune playing on the radio or TV. But when it came to gathering data analytics insights from multiple locations, there was nothing but discord.

With offices scattered around the world, all with intentions of timely selling to advertisers, it was difficult for the various teams at Shazam to pull together analytical insights from the bulky, time-consuming Excel spreadsheets they were producing.

Less than a year ago, Shazam executives started looking into business analytics tools to help them extract insights more quickly and more easily.

Having settled on the Salesforce Wave Analytics platform, Pete Miles, vice president of ad ops at Shazam, outlined the dramatic change in how reports would be crafted and received, as well as the benefits from having the company's data cleansed.

"The unavoidable aspect of compiling reports in Excel is whatever dimension you configure with, that's what you're stuck with," Miles said. "With Wave, it allows drilling into an activity on a client level, on an agency level, on a holding company level; there's a lot of different ways we want to review the data, and those used to be one-off reports that would take several hours to build."

From insight to action

Business analytics tools aren't for everybody. While there is tremendous upside to reaping the benefits of newly found insights, it's up to the organization to structure itself correctly so it creates an action from those insights.

"One of the biggest challenges is the methodology on how analytics are being obtained in a company," said Joseph Yelle, CEO of Analytics Cloud Consulting, a Wave Analytics consultancy in Center Valley, Pa. "Wave is large -- there's a lot going on. Unless you understand that your endgame for analytics is to take action, that's the whole purpose of it."

For Miles and those at Shazam, creating action out of insight wasn't the issue -- the challenge was giving everyone access to the same insights to allow for next-step actions.

"Our analytics teams may not be in the same location, and there would often be a lag," Miles said, adding that Shazam has offices in Hamburg, Germany; New York; London; Sydney; and elsewhere around the world. "The teams would potentially not ask and do without the data and make bad decisions, or try to pull something together themselves on what they could access and only get half the picture."

By implementing a business analytics tool like Wave, not only were the various teams able to obtain the same information very quickly, but they were also able to sniff out warning signs on when a sales pipeline would be getting too low and be more responsive before it became a larger issue.

"There were some things we just really didn't see," Miles said. "It's not that the data wasn't there, but it was prohibitively difficult to configure it in a way and a frequency where we're able to see some of these trends."

Data cleansing

Although those at Shazam were willing and ready to have analytical insights help drive decisions, their data needed cleansing.

"We realized our data needed a lot of work to get it in a position to get the most out of the tool," Miles said. "There are certain things you can correct manually when compiling data in Excel. But the data cleansing we had to go through, in all honesty, was a little more than we were expecting."

Miles said something as little as a slight difference in a company's name from one region to the other could affect the outcome of the business analytics tool's insight, and the only way to ensure its correctness was to go line by line through thousands of rows. It was a time-consuming and strenuous process, Miles said, but it also involved putting in checks and balances to ensure the correct entry of data moving forward.

We realized our data needed a lot of work to get it in a position to get the most out of the tool.
Pete Milesvice president of ad ops, Shazam

"The human element has the ability to screw [data] up rapidly, so building those controls protects against that," Miles said. "It's important to ensure the data is right. That was the lion's share of the work; the actual implementation was pretty painless."

A silver lining of the painstaking data-cleansing process is an overall feeling among employees that the Shazam's data integrity is ensured, Miles said.

Once the data is in its correct state, Yelle said another stumbling block some customers cross is building out too many key performance indicators, which can dilute the advantages of finding insights from business analytics tools.

"Just because you can see a metric doesn't mean it will help," Yelle said. "A KPI is something you should spend a lot of money on to increase that number. You don't need to see every possible thing -- it creates too much noise."

Pricing varies for Wave services, ranging from $75 per user, per month for Sales Wave Analytics and Service Wave Analytics. Pricing for the Wave Analytics Platform or Einstein Data Discovery can be found by contacting Salesforce.

Next Steps

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Handling unwieldy data with Wave

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