Rackspace transforms data into an enabler
Faced with fragmented data, there was a need for the tech company to modernize its stack, build trust and improve time to insight.
Rackspace Technology was experiencing slow time to insights, expensive legacy workloads, poor data quality, and lacked a single source of truth. They needed to consolidate around 70 operational data stores, 4 data warehouses and 1 data lake all on-premises to a modern data platform on an aggressive timeline.Solutions Cloud, Public Cloud, Data, Data Management, Data Strategy & Governance Platforms Cloud, Google Cloud, Data, Google Cloud Data
With over 20 years of managed hosting experience, Rackspace Technology is a global technology company focused on consulting, implementation and managed services. With a combination of unbiased expertise, meticulous methodologies and innovative delivery models, Rackspace Technology helps businesses around the world navigate complex multicloud solutions to meet specific goals.
“We looked at multiple clouds and Professional Services helped us evaluate the benefits of each cloud – ease of implementation, scalability and cost.”
Starting from scratch
When faced with its own data challenges, it turned to the same experts that its customers depend on to modernize data operations.
The company’s existing data landscape was littered with silos, on-premises hardware, expensive licenses and no unified data strategy. The goal was to implement a new data platform and processes to predict business outcomes in a timely manner and enable leadership to take action on those predictions.
Focusing on key business metrics, the Rackspace Technology Global Data Office started from scratch to build a data organization, get organizational buy-in, design a strategy and migrate multiple data warehouses against a contract-driven timeline.
Working with Professional Services, the Rackspace Technology Global Data Office assessed the current infrastructure and moved into solution design. “We looked at multiple clouds and Professional Services helped us evaluate the benefits of each cloud – ease of implementation, scalability and cost,” recalled Juan Riojas, Rackspace Technology Chief Data Officer. While working on the technical side of the modernization project, the Global Data Office also worked internally to bring together a team of both data experts and product expertise to plan the portfolio and roadmap. “In order for us to modernize our data, we also had to modernize how we operate,” explained Lara Indrikovs, Director of Product Management, Global Data at Rackspace Technology.
“Our data is driving better insights. Through deeper understanding of the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ behind customer needs, we can better recommend the ‘how.’”
Building a data-driven enterprise
To get started, the Professional Services team undertook a small but significant project to focus on the organization’s most complex metric: churn. The first estimate for project completion was four months. However, the team needed to move faster to consolidate warehouses, migrate data and operationalize before its contract expiration notification date. “We started mid-December and we finished at the end of January,” said Riojas.
By developing scripts to convert stored procedures to SQL, the team was able to automate up to 60% of the conversion process. In addition to the technical work, the timeline included a window for extensive training on how to move from waterfall development to a scaled agile approach for increased delivery speed. During the project, team members became GCP certified and proficient in Big Query SQL and Python to manage the solution during and after implementation.
In the end, the project delivered a “churn risk prediction model”. By synthesizing multiple data sources around account movement and opportunities, customer success teams now have a dashboard that can be used to improve customer experience by predicting retention risks and identifying cross-sell opportunities to revert, grow and strengthen customer relationships. “As we understand customer characteristics, we can spin out recommendations and make it easier for the sales motion,” explained Riojas. In the process, it was able to consolidate 70 data warehouses and reduced 400 dashboards down to 20, while improving velocity from 91 days to 17 days through sAFE implementation. The data modernization effort included controls to uphold PCI and GDPR compliance and internal retention policies. By standardizing data definitions and governance, including an ISO-like stamp certifying data quality, there’s been an uptake in usage and data trust.
An unintended benefit of the project: a new product. As churn and customer tracking are an integral part of any modern business, the Global Data Office plans on patenting its method and processes for other businesses to use as they transform into data-driven enterprises. The principles learned from this project will also be integrated into Rackspace Service Block™ offerings.
By eliminating its on-premises infrastructure and licensing obligations, the team has freed up more than a million dollars that can be invested elsewhere in the company.
Data becomes a business enabler
Working closely with the Rackspace Technology Professional Services team, the entire data modernization project which should have taken 12 months was completed in 5 months. By eliminating its on-premises infrastructure and licensing obligations, the team has freed up more than a million dollars that can be invested elsewhere in the company.
As a result of the team’s new skillsets, it has reduced the need for contractors and other outside services, saving an additional $2.5 million. “We absorbed the work of 52 contractors, and we only added 18 people,” shared Riojas. Due to the enhanced ability to see and react to data, the Global Data Office has been able provide higher quality data and improved models to reduce churn. Cost benefits aside, Riojas described the biggest benefit of the data modernization project, “Because of all the dashboards that we have in place, our data is driving better insights. Through deeper understanding of the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ behind customer needs, we can better recommend the ‘how.’”
Going forward, the team intends to use its new data capabilities to continuously improve its ability to support broader corporate objectives and deliver key results.
About Rackspace Technology
Rackspace Technology is the multicloud solutions expert. We combine our expertise with the world’s leading technologies — across applications, data and security — to deliver end-to-end solutions. We have a proven record of advising customers based on their business challenges, designing solutions that scale, building and managing those solutions, and optimizing returns into the future.
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