Paving the way for “Citizen Analysts” to drive healthier business decisions

By Talend Team

Business intelligence (BI) has gotten so sophisticated that a variety of end users within an organization may be eager to use data to guide their decisions. Unfortunately, most businesses have a very small data analysis or BI team. How can companies like this enable more people to use more data more effectively without overwhelming their BI staff?

Wolters Kluwer, Health, based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, devised an innovative solution to this problem. The company’s “Citizen Analyst” initiative helps non-technical employees use data to explore new ideas and generate new insights — without distracting the BI team’s focus from its own priorities.​

“We want to make it easy for people to do their own data mining and data analysis using their own datasets, so they can get the answers they need quickly,” said Kevin Ryan, Director of Business Intelligence at Wolters Kluwer, Health. "At the same time, we can focus on growing our organizational data competencies to a level that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.”

The core technology behind the self-service Citizen Analyst initiative is powered by Talend. “The simplest way I can put it is that Talend is helping us build a crystal ball,” said Ryan. “We’re sparking people’s curiosity about what’s possible with data and helping them see new insights that lead to better outcomes.”

Cultural change everyone can embrace

With the new self-service data capabilities came the potential to create a cultural shift at Wolters Kluwer. The company had already been using Talend in multiple ways: building predictive models to help sales identify new opportunities, highlighting customers who might be at risk for renewal, upgrading or cross-selling products in response to fast-changing market conditions and customer preferences, building more effective email and marketing campaigns, and more.

However, the Citizen Analyst initiative takes Talend’s value for Wolters Kluwer to a new level. “We faced a lot of skepticism initially because it's a cultural change, and nobody was asking for this when we started with Talend,” said Ryan. “We had been focused on integrating data sources and mapping it online, cleaning data and getting overall data quality higher, taking downtime to zero, ensuring the data is flowing correctly, and supporting our marketing and sales teams when requests came in.”

“Now we’re also facilitating the creation of environments where our product teams can go in and use advanced analytics, predictive analytics, and even AI in some cases to mine and find patterns in data, driving better decision making,” Ryan continued.

“We’re creating a culture of curiosity. We’re generating curiosity about the potential of data and BI to solve core business problems. That’s a cultural shift, but it’s a change that people are embracing because everyone wins. Product teams get insights sooner, they are less dependent on the BI team, they can share results with business leaders and get buy-in faster, and ultimately the outcome is better products and services that benefit doctors and patients.”

Why Talend? Simple.

According to Ryan, Wolters Kluwer initially chose Talend to replace a solution that wasn’t being used to its full potential. “The previous solution was expensive and relatively limited in its functionality,” he said. “What I loved about Talend was its simplicity and modularity. We could make a small initial investment and scale up as the technology proved itself.”

Talend also offered a superior combination of scalability, cost efficiency, and support to deliver the extremely high level of data quality that Wolters Kluwer needed to achieve its immediate goals. It also supports their long-term vision for the Citizen Analyst initiative.

“Everything we needed was in Talend,” said Ryan. “It allowed us to integrate 50 data sources — and now it allows my data engineers to roll up their sleeves and apply what they know about data engineering, data stewardship, and data quality in an environment that matches their skill sets.”

The shift to Talend from the competitive solution has also saved millions of dollars per year, according to Ryan. “I have it down to the dollar,” he said. “When you can leverage data to solve business problems, using strategic analytics and data science to get visibility into opportunities and make recommendations based on new market insights, you can track the cost savings very precisely.”

Equally important, Talend gives Wolters Kluwer visibility into the full lineage of its data, so the company can ensure the data is clean and validated for the analysts who are using it. “That is absolute gold for a B2B business, because we can trust our data as we build predictive models with it, and we can connect to multiple sources such as Salesforce to create new insights and opportunities that our sales teams might not have considered.​”

Ultimately, the most significant aspirational benefit of using Talend will be better outcomes for patients. “Talend is laying the groundwork for us to eventually answer key questions related to patient outcomes, from analysis of research to the efficacy of treatment options,” said Ryan. “Seeing how our products are impacting patient outcomes is the holy grail for me. It’s a long-term goal — but understanding how we can make a difference in making people healthier is going to be truly rewarding.”