Embracing data automation and orchestration - three end user enterprise exemplars

Mark Samuels Profile picture for user Mark Samuels November 7, 2023
It can be tough to make the most of your data assets. Three tech chiefs explain how it can be done.


Businesses that want to make the most of their data resources must make sure they take an integrated and value-driven approach.

That was the conclusion from a panel of digital leaders at SnapLogic’s IntegreatTour in London who explained to the audience how their organizations are moving towards enterprise-wide data automation and orchestration.

AstraZeneca - powering innovation

Darren Goodson, IT Director at AstraZeneca, says the pharmaceuticals giant has a mission to bring 50 new medicines to market by 2030. That additional effort will require the organization to work in much smarter ways. He says the effective use of data will be crucial to that strategy, which in the early days, was about trying to get integration into the hands of non-integration specialists:

We've been pretty successful – we’ve got 13,000 pipelines and billions of documents. Now, it's about making sure that all of that new value that we're creating is sustainable and that we can maintain an agile organization.

AstraZeneca is using SnapLogic across the business value chain. He says the commercial part of the company is best thought of as 100 organizations with different regulations, marketing techniques and products. SnapLogic enables those commercial organizations to run their own campaigns and integrations and to develop their own insights. The technology is also used heavily by research staff and other parts of the business:

We've got 1,000 people that have flocked to SnapLogic and around 150 to 250 active developers every month. And those kinds of results are not the same for some of our other technologies. Other technology is just not as accessible for people across the organisation who want to drive value.

Goodson says AstraZeneca is a company that is based on innovation. He joined the company in 2006 and has seen the business grow through acquisitions. The end result is a complex enterprise with a broad range of data sources so people need to be able to access the right insights at the right time:

We know that our research and development information is going to be really useful for the operations team. It's then going to feed into the sales and commercial activities. And it’s then got to be accounted for through finance. So, using these integration tools to provide access and share data is a necessity.

GHD - informing decisions

James McPake, Head of Technology Development at GHD, says his haircare company produces complex electronic products. When these products go wrong, it’s important to get hold of data quickly. Traditionally, information was held on an enterprise data warehouse on an SQL database. Today, SnapLogic gives GHD a proactive approach and allows employees to use information to make smarter decisions:

If we were to look at the failure rate of a specific microchip manufacturer, for example, we can help to improve the designs of those systems. If we have faults in specific heat plates, we can really easily pull that data out and it's important we get our science teams as much useful information as quickly as we can.

The data that SnapLogic is pushing through to business intelligence systems is already helping to shorten the learning loops on product improvements, he says:

IT traditionally holds on to a lot of data and is almost a gatekeeper to it. In the new world, it's not the IT manager’s data – it’s the company’s and our colleagues’ data. If I give my head of science access to product return information, he can quickly make decisions on components that need upgrading.

McPake says he thinks everyone who works in technology would say maintaining high data quality is a challenge. He says SnapLogic helps overcome data quality concerns because of the validation features that are enabled within the technology:

These features help you to rapidly identify where you have data quality issues. At GHD, we will make a decision at that point whether we would like SnapLogic to manually – or automatically – repair the data, or whether we should go back and check the source system or re-educate the user to improve how data is input.

RNLI - saving lives

Sam Prodger, Head of Data Operations and Applications at RNLI, says his organization has been on a data journey. Five years ago, the lifeboat charity didn't have a data-engineering team. Today, RNLI has a co-ordinated data effort that supports potentially life-saving decisions:

Data tells us where our lifeboat stations should be. It helps us to predict failure rates of our lifeboats ahead of time – we can see in real time when things are going to go wrong. So data plays a huge part, but it's only useful if it's used and not hidden away in silos.

SnapLogic’s technology allows RNLI to “surface its data” and move from a traditional ETL approach to an orchestrated data set that people can use.  For example, lifeguards fill in forms manually that are then entered into back-end systems. It costs RNLI £80,000 a year to take that data from collection to systems, so the organization is trialling computer vision on beaches to capture data in real time:

We’ve gone from it taking many days to get information captured to information being available in 10 minutes. Using SnapLogic means we have event-driven streaming processes producing information that can be used for decision making.

Prodger says those kinds of efficiencies make a big difference for a charity like RNLI. He says SnapLogic also helps to ensure data quality is high. The organization’s event-driven streaming process means data is captured at source and validated:

The technology masters the data and you're in a really good place, so you can actually start to control it. It’s all about, ‘What is the most value you can get?’

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