Special Broadcasting Service (SBS): Knowing and serving audiences better through data integration

By Laura Ventura

SBS is Australia’s most diverse broadcaster, offering a multi-platform portfolio of TV, radio, and digital services. The company’s data is also diverse and multi-platform, and SBS understands its data is a key element in contributing to improving viewership, customer satisfaction, and loyalty.

But what’s the key to using data more effectively? How do you bring together dozens of data sources into a single, central data platform? How do you convert all that data into fresh insights about your customers, so you can serve them better?

SBS has worked with Talend, and Talend’s partners Snowflake and Tableau, as the foundation for building a cloud data platform that could accelerate analysis and reporting on billions of records about consumer behavior and preferences. The result: faster, improved decision making about everything from programming to digital advertising campaigns.

SBS World News logo


No More Quality/Volume Trade-Offs

SBS operates in a highly competitive, heavily regulated industry and is constantly striving to improve the audience experience.

But in the past, the company had limited access to a comprehensive, real-time, accurate, unified view of its customer base. There was plenty of data, but there were trade-offs: do you pull together high volumes of questionable data, or lower volumes of validated, high-quality data? What is the right balance?

“Before Talend, we had to pick and choose what we could ingest into our data warehouse,” said Dan Lam, Business Intelligence Manager at SBS. “With Talend there are no trade-offs. All of our source systems give us high-quality data, and we just load it into the data warehouse for analysis. We are able to handle the massive volume of log-level data with confidence in its quality.”

What counts as massive volume? “Our data size right now is about five billion records,” said Mr. Lam. “There is no way to ingest that much data into a SQL Server. But we were able to handle it with our cloud data warehouse.”


Significant Cost Savings, Better Programming Decisions

In all, SBS has now integrated 30-40 data sources into its Snowflake data warehouse, fed by Talend Data Integration. In the process, SBS has found efficiencies. “Not having to ingest multiple versions of the same data into Snowflake means we are saving 20% or more on storage and compute resources,” said Mr. Lam. “And we’re saving additional money by not having to expend the resources to do all that.”

Snowflake company logo


Mr. Lam points to a recent example: “We loaded a log file with clickstream data with a 1500-columnwidth,” he said. “The data is now available for business users for reporting and analytics. This also means we don’t have to build multiple extracts of different data column combinations from this same clickstream data, which reduces our storage and compute costs and development effort.”

In addition, “My data engineers can use Talend to ingest data sources that require dealing with complex APIs,” said Mr. Lam. “So, it’s not just the overall tangible cost savings but also the business opportunities that have arisen from business users having access to more datasets in a shorter timeframe.”


Equally important, according to Mr. Lam, is the fact that Talend coordinates with Snowflake to help assure data security and data privacy. “Talend Data Catalog gives us a secure control point for our data,” he said. “We can standardize our data governance and ensure data privacy more efficiently, and we’re confident about data integrity across all the applications using our APIs.”


Talend: Broad Connectivity, Easy to Use

The initial decision to select Talend was based on its ability to seamlessly integrate data from a wide range of sources, according to Mr. Lam. However, the ease of use of Talend was equally valuable.

“One of the most important things for my team was that we were able to actually use this new technology right away,” he said. “We were working on a number of big projects for multiple stakeholders, and with Talend, Snowflake, and Tableau we had new solutions to learn—and my team is very self-sufficient. We didn’t want to have to depend on the vendors for extensive service and support.“

With Talend, we were able to get up and running fast, and we acquired the knowledge and skills we needed very quickly—even though the whole team was working remotely,” Mr. Lam continued. “In fact, we were able to deliver on two large projects in just a few months. Now we have automated our core processes so we can get daily and monthly reporting out to 300+ users. It has been a huge success.”