International online photo service provider,Ifolor AG, gives customers the ability to personalize and customize unique photo products. However, with growing bouts of digitalization and constant changing of sales channels, Ifolor AG required a data platform that could allow them to easily, quickly and more effectively gather important customer information.
Supporting Personalized and Elevated Photographs Ifolor AG was founded in 1961 as Photocolor Kreuzlingen AG, one of the first photographic laboratories that allowed customers to create photo projects from the comfort of their home. The company offers their customers tangible photo memories through their various products such as photo books and photo calendars. Since the conception of their business, Ifolor AG has gone on to become the first European photo laboratory to achieve top quality certification and has grown their customer base by giving great possibilities for photo customization, design and product ordering.
The Need for Speed (and Ease) Ifolor AG’s overall goal with changing their legacy business intelligence solution was to be able to work in a customer-centric way. The company wanted to find a platform that could face the challenges of the growing digitalization and, at the same time, make data and information access easier so that staff could quickly and independently make quality business decisions.
Three Resources Result in One Powerful Solution A project was developed and completed with the help of three dynamic partners: the BI-specialists from IT-Logix AG, the testautomation suite BiG EVAL® from Bolt Data Solutions and TimeXtender. With these resources, the project resulted in a unique and impressive result. Ifolor AG’s BI team realized the full power of automation when using TimeXtender to quickly and efficiently handle all the repetitive work necessary to develop a data estate.
“By using data warehouse automation and test automation we succeeded with a very small team to develop an agile, future-proof BI landscape. Without automation this wasn’t imaginable!”
Sören Schubert, Project Manager BI, Ifolor AG
The implementation of this new data landscape was not the only area where automation proved to be an incredible asset. With fully automated and controlled documentation provided by TimeXtender, Ifolor AG is able to easily trace, manage and anonymize personally identifiable information, allowing the project team to put a strong emphasis on data privacy and adhere to regulatory principles. And with data lineage and impact analysis, the company can find where data comes from, how it is being used, and who has access to it, adding an extra level of security for sensitive customer data.
Additionally, the developers at Ifolor AG also found that their day-to-day maintenance tasks were simplified with the use of the platform, allowing them to focus their attention on more challenging data issues. Christian Kupferschmid, Head of I.T. Operations at Ifolor AG, reported that, “Having TimeXtender enables us to implement the Extract/Transfer/Load process much quicker than what it would take if we do it manually.” Improved speed in completing tasks is one important benefit that Ifolor AG’s team found, but they also relished in the new freedom to work on more dynamic projects.
The test automation suite BiG EVAL® was also a key factor in freeing developers and testers from cumbersome, repetitive manual testing tasks. Ifolor AG was able to automate several test cases that compare and validate the data of the staging area, the core data estate and the tabular model against the data of the source systems. This ensures that no records get lost, duplicated or falsified due to implementation issues in the transformation or business-logic. During the implementation and every publication of a new release, the BiG EVAL® software ensures that the functions of previous releases continue to work correctly by executing regression tests automatically.
“Developers can actually concentrate on the value-adding parts like discussing a requirement together with the stakeholders with the business for example.”
Raphael Branger, Senior BI Solution Architect, IT-Logix AG
Building a Future-Proof Data Estate with Microsoft Business Intelligence Stack and TimeXtender® “One of the prerequisites of the project was that, whenever possible, we wanted to use the Microsoft Stack”, says Sören Schubert, Project Manager at Ifolor AG. “Therefore, it made sense to us that we use Power BI to give users access to self-service BI”. Since Ifolor AG already utilized Microsoft Excel as a BI-tool, it was an obvious choice to enhance this with SSRS and Power BI so that there was an even stronger focus on Microsoft in the Technology stack.
The new business intelligence system landscape at Ifolor AG consists of TimeXtender including a modern data estate that is fed with data from a variety of underlying Microsoft Dynamics AX instances, as well as web tracking and App-Store data. On top of that, they have a tabular analytics model with SQL Server Analyses Services and Microsoft Power BI, with reporting services and Excel as front-end tools. It was decided at a very early stage that a data architecture platform would be needed as an additional tool. TimeXtender, with special certification in the Microsoft field, was selected as this tool.
“We now have to think about difficult problems most of the time because the easy ones are already solved. By gathering all this data I can, in the end, enable all my colleagues to ask the questions and then get quality insights and make the right decisions out of that.”
Sören Schubert, Project Manager BI, Ifolor AG
A Continuous Partnership With the implementation of TimeXtender for their data estate needs, Ifolor AG was able to complete a huge data overhaul, quickly and securely. With the power of automation and AI technologies, Ifolor AG has been afforded a more streamlined, simplified data analytic solution, one that allows them to best harness the quality of their important customer data.