“Business intelligence is transforming the speed at which we can drive growth from a data driven perspective,” said Jonathan Palmer, head of business intelligence at GoCardless.
Palmer has set himself a mission with data; to build out the infrastructure and the culture that enables the leveraging of data that others don’t have. He said this because he sees GoCardless as a company that generates a huge amount of data that can be a massive competitive differentiator, over and above “vanilla direct debit.”
GoCardless was founded in 2011 as a platform for the collection of invoice payments, subscriptions and fees. In February, the UK-based company raised $75 million in Series E funding to build out its global debit network.
Palmer is a proponent of business intelligence platform Looker; he used it at his previous workplace King, the entertainment and games company of Candy Crush fame. With his team of seven, soon to be nine, has been growing its usage at GoCardless since he joined in July 2018.
He said: “One of the things we’re trying to do is to stitch the different areas of the business together so that you can see the full funnel of the business in a single place.”
Palmer said that in the past, the marketing team might generate leads but wouldn’t be able to see what happens to those leads further down the line. His team can assist by doing tasks such as calculating the ROI of digital marketing as well as identifying the impact of a feature that the product team has been working on.
He said: “Our job is to both. Do the analysis work, or ideally provide the self-service ecosystem so that my team are more enablers rather than direct drivers of analysis work themselves. But we cover both spectrums, depending on the use case.”
Palmer added that while his team can do the skilled analytical work of diving deep into data, the default position is to make data self-service possible, thus alleviating bottlenecks of requests. His toolkit includes Big Query as the data warehouse, Airflow for the elements of ETL, data integration tools like Segment, as well as DataFlow and other tools within the Google Cloud Platform ecosystem.
A noted difference between Palmer’s old place of employment and his current one is the number of data professionals in the business. He said that at King, there was a huge number data scientists, data analysts, data engineers or any combination of those equally distributed across the whole business, and so he was enabling them to expand on the core KPI suite, to build core models which they could augment with their own content.
In contrast at GoCardless, there aren’t hundreds of SQL-literate people around the business and so he and his team have to “usurp those business use cases where previously some part of the business was entirely run by a series of cumbersome spreadsheets.”
Palmer has not found adoption of the business intelligence tool to be a problem because when people understand and have been vocal about a problem, they are very receptive to a ready-made solution.
“I suppose the challenge is spotting those people who are going to be your drivers of growth, and spotting the right use cases, and attacking them strategically and as part of that building a community of evangelists,” said Palmer.
He was almost taken aback by the enthusiasm of one senior engineers in the developer enablement team who taught himself LookML and lot about the Looker ecosystem. Over the course of a week, he went from never having seen Looker before to building a suite a of dashboards that enabled them to look at continuous integration pipelines. “I was so stunned. There’s the data driven and the data hungry and the people who once they get that meal go all in an keep going back to the buffet.”
Jonathan Palmer was speaking to DataIQ at the Looker Join The Tour.