Payload is an easy-to-use cloud application for logistics and supply chain management, delivering simple, accountable logistics tracking and reporting. Companies turn to Payload when seeking to digitally manage field tickets, drive operational efficiencies, and manage compliance requirements.
Proprietary Code and Excel Extracts Stunted Payload’s Growth
After spending years focused on perfecting application functionality, Payload realized it needed to shift its strategy to truly differentiate itself from the competition. “To improve retention, generate new business, and ultimately enable customers to get the full value of our application, we needed to build analytics solutions into our product,” recalls Chris Lambert, CTO at Payload.
This shift also presented Payload with the chance to monetize the vast amounts of data it collects through its application. “This was a major opportunity for us to jump leaps and bounds ahead of the competition,” says Chris. “The cost of not doing this was incredibly high — we had to make it happen. No one else in the industry was providing this type of insight to customers.”
However, it soon became apparent that they would not be able to fully realize this opportunity and achieve their goal with their current BI tool. “We used Fivetran to ingest data across sources and pull it into Snowflake, which was working great. But then we were using Looker to analyze and visualize the data, and CSV exports to share reports with customers,” remembers Iain Letourneau, Payload’s BI Lead.
Reports had to be created ad hoc and required significant development effort to build, deploy, and release. “You have to know Looker’s proprietary coding language, LookML, to use the tool,” says Iain. “This really limited the number of people who could generate and manage these reports without exporting them. Not to mention, one small schema change in our cloud data warehouse meant hours of manual updates in Looker.”
Report lead times reached an average of 4-6 days as request queues grew, rendering the data stale and insights outdated by the time they reached customers. Building an analytics solution into the Payload application was projected to take 2 full-time employees 6 months with Looker.
Governed Data Access for All Delivers Insights in Seconds
After evaluating multiple BI tools, the team chose Sigma thanks to its spreadsheet-like user interface, which gives everyone the power of SQL without having to manually write code. “Business users who had never seen Sigma before were able to jump right in and start creating reports, whereby with Looker I had to train them for weeks just to be able to do basic edits to LookML,” says Iain.
“Sigma’s modern approach to data governance keeps our data safe and secure, but does it in a way that enables data access, visibility, and insight, rather than forcing our team to act as gatekeepers.”
Empowering business teams to independently explore and analyze data drastically reduces time to insight by eliminating reporting request queues and time-consuming back and forth. “With Sigma, our workflow is very fast and fluid,” says Iain. “It was such a roadblock that the BI team had to get involved and update the layer between Snowflake and our Looker reports every time a new question or schema change arose. Now anyone on the team can spin up a customer dashboard or dig into an existing one to do further analysis.”
In contrast, Sigma doesn’t require any updates to the central data model to access or analyze data. It sits directly on top of the cloud data warehouse, so any changes in the warehouse are immediately reflected across reports. What’s more, BI and business teams can work together in Sigma to build contextual, reusable datasets and conduct complex analyses.
“Sigma eliminates risky data extracts and keeps your data safe inside the Data Cloud, which makes me feel confident that my data is always secure and compliant,” says Chris. This confidence made it possible to share data externally with customers using Sigma’s Embedded Analytics functionality.
“We embed Sigma dashboards into Payload and authenticate our customers through our own application,” continues Iain.
A New Revenue Source Plus 600% Cost Savings Per Report
Using Sigma’s Embedded Analytics functionality, Payload has launched two new data products that provide its customers with actionable insight into load utilization, field ticket visualization of events, vehicle speeds and safety, carbon footprint, and more. “We built these data products plus more than 30 other standard reports in just a couple months without having to add any additional headcount,” recalls Iain.
“Adding Sigma dashboards and insights to the Payload application has had a huge impact on the perceived value of our product,” says Chris. “It’s not only helping us retain current customers, it’s enabling us to expand these accounts as well. Sigma’s A&BI solution allowed us to create an entirely new revenue stream and now plays a key role in generating and closing new business.”
Payload has been able to achieve their goals and drive these business outcomes quickly and cost-effectively with Sigma. “We were up and running reports in Sigma on day one because it was so easy,” says Chris, “while we had to wait a week before we could even get set up — let alone run reports — with the other A&BI tools we tried.”
Organization-wide access to real-time data inside Snowflake and the Sigma Spreadsheet have enabled anyone at Payload to quickly create up-to-the-minute reports, visualizations, and dashboards that meet customers’ needs.
Not only did this cut the dedicated BI manpower Payload needed to provide customers with an analytics solution by 50%, but it also reduced report delivery times from 4-6 days to 4-6 hours.
“If you add up the time and the manpower we needed to generate standardized customer reports in Looker, each report came out to about $9,500 to build, test, and deploy,” calculates Chris. “Sigma has brought that number down to $1,400 per report. That’s over 600% cost savings due to the fact that anyone on the team can go into Sigma and generate an analysis in seconds.”