Janrain Expands Offerings with Looker

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Janrain’s vision is to be the largest digital identity network in the world, enabling users to move seamlessly and safely between web and mobile properties—across all connected devices—where security, privacy, marketing, data infrastructure, and application technologies all come together to create simple and safe experiences through one safeguarded digital identity.

The company provides identity management for many major corporations, including Coca-Cola, Rogers Media, McDonald’s, and Pfizer, just to name a few.

While that business is good in and of itself, Janrain knew that the business intelligence (BI) data it was gathering for digital identification could be leveraged for even more opportunities.

But company executives also knew that while they were gathering the information, the area of business intelligence was somewhat outside its core competencies, according to Tim Gasper, director of product, data, and analytics at Janrain, which is based in Portland, Ore.

“We already had a product for some of that—Tableau—and our own spaghetti-like infrastructure of data,” he recalls. “We considered upgrading our own [BI] infrastructure or building a [BI] platform from scratch. But business intelligence is not part of our core DNA.”

So Janrain researched a handful of companies with those business intelligence capabilities. After careful consideration, it chose the analytics platform from Looker about a year ago.

Once the selection was made, the next step for Janrain as it developed its next-generation Customer Insights product was to transform its own infrastructure. First Janrain jettisoned the batch extract/transform/load (ETL) process it had been using, opting instead for Kinesis on Amazon Web Services for writing data. Then Janrain switched from a Postgres to a Redshift database so it could collect and process the data in near real time. Janrain also moved to a multitenant model, which enables it to manage and scale clusters to balance performance across all of its clients. The idea was to gain better flexibility, because all customers are different and want different business intelligence capabilities from Janrain, Gasper says.

While Looker’s in-database architecture made it the appropriate BI solution for the new infrastructure, it also enabled Janrain to change to a multitenant model while maintaining the privacy of individual clients, thanks to the LookML modeling language.

Janrain was able to go live with Looker in only two months. Any homegrown solution would have taken at least a year to complete.

Even though the Looker product has been in use for a little less than a year, it has already provided several direct and indirect benefits to Janrain and its customers, according to Gasper.

Chief among them was rapid development, even with the many changes that Janrain wanted. Looker provided Janrain with immediate trial capabilities, enabling it to begin experimenting and working with a variety of reports, dashboards, and LookML models.

“We received a lot of support from the Looker implementation specialist,” Gasper says. “Everything was intuitive.”

Using Looker has transformed the way Janrain engineers create and maintain the Customer Insights product, but it has also inspired unprecedented levels of engagement and enthusiasm in Janrain’s client base.

According to Gasper, Looker has saved the company the cost of a full-time data engineer—about $100,000 for wages and benefits.

Additionally, now the company’s customers can create more than 250 reports, slicing and dicing the data in the way that provides the most value for them.

Additionally, Janrain engineers now have time to focus on value-added product features and development of additional products rather than developing and maintaining a business intelligence infrastructure. Its enterprise clients, meanwhile, can devise reports that work best for them.

Gasper hopes to continue to evolve the company’s use of Looker, with an eye on fraud analytics and several other new tools. 

The Payoff

Since implementing Looker's business intelligence platform, Janrain has seen the following results:

  • it no longer needed to hire a full-time data engineer, a savings of roughly $100,000;
  • it can now offer clients more than 250 customized reports; and
  • its engineers can focus on developing new products and features.

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