PEOPLE Meet the Team: Business Intelligence
In our article “How Work Is Really Done at ABOUT YOU Tech”, we promised that you would get to know our teams and processes better. You’ve already met our CRM tech team and were hopefully able to get a good look at their work and how they are cooperating as a team. In this article you will now meet the Business Intelligence team of ABOUT YOU, consisting of two circles called “BI-APP” and “Reporting and Data Science” that are both part of the BI/CRM unit. Now you might think ‘What are Units and Circles’? Let us quickly explain.
Units and Circles make us faster
Teams are called “units” here at ABOUT YOU. These units are divided into smaller, so called “circles”, each with their own specific objective. Every circle acts almost like a fast agile startup — changing the size and focus whenever needed. This allows us to deal with sudden or ongoing changes in the business and new challenges in a very flexible, agile and fast way. But what do the circles BI-APP and RDS work on? Stay tuned to find out!
ABOUT the Unit
The two circles “BI-APP” and “Reporting and Data Science (RDS) are part of the overarching unit “BI/CRM”, which is also the home to the CRM tech circle, and the brand new circle “Brand Analytics Tool (BAT)” that will certainly come up in our articles here on the blog in the future.
Seen from a higher perspective, the BI team delivers sorting, recommendations in our shop and reports and analyses to almost all teams in the company. It also provides an analytical database to other teams. The CRM team develops a system for the realization of multi-channel CRM and marketing campaigns (email, inApp, push). Users, order & tracking data as well as customer scoring models and product data are processed here.
The whole unit consists of around 35 people at the moment and you won’t believe how international this team is: Currently there are 15 unique nationalities and languages represented in the BI/CRM unit! Ecuador, Germany, India, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Syria and the USA! All working together in Hamburg, Germany.
Data Warehouse and Analytics — The RDS circle
The basis for every one of our customer contacts is data. It may be the sorting of products in the shop, the content of an email or a push notification through our app. But what happens behind the scenes? Our team generates analyses and reports based on big amounts of data for our internal stakeholders that continue working with the data, most of our company’s teams rely on data that the team creates and analyses, even non-technical teams like our Buying department, procurement and controlling, or logistics — they all directly benefit from this team’s work. The RDS team also monitors the SLA’s that were agreed on with other teams, supporting the planning and purchasing process of the company and taking care of ad-hoc analyses upon request. The goal is to support important business decisions by analyzing critical and relevant KPI’s, process them visually and thereby solve complex problems. These interesting problems reach the RDS circle from all over the company, so it never gets boring. In short, their work consists of aligning ABOUT YOU’s processes and procedures in a data-driven manner and supporting departments in making the right decisions with the help of data.
The RDS team develops and extends our data warehouse and provides the core logic for the recommendations and sorting that BI-APP delivers. All relevant data about our customers is stored in the warehouse. From the data sets, customer-profiles are being created. This improves the customer experience in the shop massively because of the way we approach our customers in the shop, as well as via our CRM channels, for example our app’s push notification, or email newsletters. We use the data to show the most interesting and specific content to the user, according to their past behaviour in our shop to increase conversion.
RDS is the team that could be called our classical BI-team! The team consists of data engineers, back end developers, analysts and data scientists.
API development and scalability — The BI-APP Circle
BI-APP uses data provided by RDS and delivers recommendations and sorting to our ABOUT YOU Shop applications team to be used in our shop. BI-APP creates and manages the high scaling data driven endpoint for the shop, from simple interactions as “liking” a brand or saving a preferred size, to recommendation like “similar articles” (i.e. a dress that is similar to the one you were looking at before) or “complimentary products” (i.e. the handbag that goes perfectly with the dress) towards a personalized feed and sorting of articles. The team works with over 5 million real-time API calls per hour and a huge amount of data to provide the best shopping experience for our customers!
Their focus is to create fast and stable responses under high throughput. The result are tools which allow adaptation of recommendation and sorting rules, purely based on business requirements. In the process, the teams make use of the resulting data streams: Which brands is a customer interested in? What are similar brands to the brands the customer was interested in in the past? Should they be contacted again soon? Which content is most relevant for them? How have they reacted to the last content? All of this intertwines to great data analysis possibilities and with this, opportunities to increase conversion and create a happy user. Because besides looking at data all day, the customer is also always the focus of the team’s work.
How are the circles collaborating?
Both circles develop processes by using different agile techniques such as planning meetings and stand-ups and retrospectives to get the whole team on the same page. The teams work with sprint-reviews to get an overview of the achieved work. The BI-APP circle is using Scrum to develop, which helps them to continuously improve their work while working closely within the team. On the other hand, the RDS circle uses the best practices of Scrum and Kanban combined to get their work done. The both teams are relying on each other and their circle managers are in exchange to enforce their team’s synergy and improve collaboration.
What do the teams work on right now?
To give you an idea of what kind of topics the team generally works on we put together some current and future tasks here. The team’s biggest achievement in the last year was the implementation of a personal feed with products, outfits, stories and brands based on the customer’s individual interactions and preferences.
Currently, the team is working on the following topics:
A recent challenge was to keep customers updated on their order’s “track & trace” status so the customer is always informed throughout the process of the delivery of their products. This was a challenge because logistic carriers information needed somehow to be integrated into our system to provide track and trace data for analysis and for transparent communication with our customers. The team connected different APIs and file exports to integrate it into our systems. As a result, we are now able to measure how long delivery processes take, for each step of the way — From order to shipment, or return — so we can for example generate actions from this data. For example, apologize to customers if an order took a longer time than expected, or inform the customer via push messages about the delivery that just happened and so much more!
Another interesting milestone was to maximize interaction and revenue of the personalized feed in the ABOUT YOU app. The home page of the app aims to deliver a highly personalized experience that relates to the customer’s activities. The challenge is to display on a very small area the content that generates the most interactions and therefore revenue, and to keep the customer up to date with the content that interests them most.
- Improve product recommendations that are sent to the ABOUT YOU shop
- Improve scaling and performance with a constantly growing user base
- Providing customers updates of new items for liked brands
- Predicting chance a customer is going to return an item
High-Level Tech Stack the teams are working with
- PHP7, Python3, TypeScript (Node.js)
- Laravel, PHPUnit, Pandas, NumPy, scikit-learn, plotly
- In-House BigQuery framework
- Auto-Scaling High Performance APIs
- ElasticSearch, MySQL, DynamoDB
- Google Big Query, GBQ ML and Auto ML
- Processing millions of records every day. Serving 9-digit API requests per day with response times far below 100ms
We are convinced that the best products are not developed alone. That’s why we don’t rely on only one person to lead our tech teams, but on two. Nikita is the product lead and Robert the technical lead of the BI/ CRM unit.
Nikita — Product Lead
How he got started at ABOUT YOU:
→Nikita noticed how much fun data analysis was for him while working on a paper for university and was then looking for a student job in the field — which he found at ABOUT YOU.
What did he do before working at ABOUT YOU:
→ Nikita worked in 3D VFX and video production as a teenager. Later he founded his own company with friends and developed a game for the PS3. During his student days, he worked on projects at BCG and Nielsen.
Robert — Tech Lead
How he got started at ABOUT YOU:
→ Robert came to AY as Interim Lead for the Desktop shop team. He got very enthusiastic about the company and decided to stay at AY permanently.
What did he do before working at ABOUT YOU:
→ Before working at AY, Robert had a small software agency in Darmstadt with start-ups and larger companies as customers.
Did the topic and team sound interesting to you? If you would like to become part of the team, please check these currently vacant positions in the unit BI/CRM and other Data Science positions at ABOUT YOU:
- Circle Manager — BI-APP
- DevOps Engineer — BI & CRM
- Node.js Developer — BI & CRM
- Data Scientist — Pricing
You can apply directly via our Corporate Page!
ABOUT YOU TECH