Mercateo Accelerates Business Decisions with Self-Service Analytics

Mercateo

Mercateo

INDUSTRY

Technology

SOLUTIONS

Intelligent Data Operations for Analytics

SOFTWARE

Lumada portfolio products:

Pentaho Business Analytics

Pentaho Data Integration

Challenge

Challenge:

Optimize sales and pricing strategies daily for 400 million items by giving business users easy access to data from across the enterprise.

Solution

Solution:

Consolidate data and create a single source of truth for fast self-service analytics by 200 business users with Pentaho in the cloud.

Outcomes

  • Self-service data analytics enables faster business insights in hours, not weeks.
  • Consolidates transaction, product and machine-learning data across 14 countries for more than 400 million items every day.
  • Cloud deployment boosts availability and performance with more flexible and effective resource utilization.
  • Automated DevOps frees IT and Data Science teams from routine tasks.

Challenge: Manage an Expanding Product Range of Over 400 Million Items

Mercateo is a leading business-to-business (B2B) e-procurement platform with 100,000 active business customers in Germany alone. Headquartered in Leipzig, Germany, the company operates in 14 European countries and employs 600 people.

Mercateo serves as a one-stop shop, supporting decentralized online procurement processes. This gives it a significant advantage over competitors. The benefits of this capability were even more apparent during the COVID-19 crisis, for example, when many employees worked from home and needed office supplies.

The company's services combine B2B marketplaces with modular e-procurement solutions. A comprehensive set of interactive features enable buyers and manufacturers to establish richer, more trusted relationships.

We are a small team of just ten people, so it would be extremely difficult for us to compile data and create reports for 200 business users manually. With the self-service features of Pentaho Data Analytics, users can create most reports themselves within minutes or hours.

– Dominik Meyer, Data Scientist, Mercateo Group

Mercateo's network of suppliers and manufacturers is expanding and its product range changes quickly. As a result, data volumes are continuously increasing. Being able to respond rapidly to dynamic market conditions is the key for success: the company needs fast, flexible and easy-to-use access to business data to implement innovative features. For example, its shopping cart optimization, which helps customers streamline procurement, relies on the ability to analyze product data at high speed.

Dominik Meyer, Data Scientist at Mercateo Group, comments: "We're constantly adjusting our product range and special offers. In our fast-paced industry, prices are recalculated daily. We're updating information on 400 million items across different platforms and shops every day. It's a huge challenge to consolidate our data across all systems and deliver the essential metrics and insights to business users."

To enable more dynamic access to key performance indicators, Mercateo looked to integrate its disparate data stores and create a centralized analytics platform.

Solution: Boost Productivity with Pentaho in the Cloud

Mercateo selected Pentaho Data Integration and Pentaho Business Analytics, Lumada portfolio products from Hitachi Vantara, as the foundation for a centralized business intelligence (BI) solution.

Pentaho Data Integration serves as back-end platform for extract, transform, load (ETL) tasks in the data warehouse architecture. The software enables fast, efficient data cleaning and consolidation. Pentaho Business Analytics powers visual ad hoc analysis for 200 business users across the entire company.

Using Pentaho Data Integration, Mercateo processes transaction records and updates prices for 400 million items every day. Data is gathered from a range of sources, including SAP ERP applications, SAP Ariba, Oracle and PostgreSQL databases, text files and custom-developed Java and Python-based software.

"Pentaho Data Integration and Pentaho Business Analytics enable us to consolidate different source systems very flexibly," comments Meyer. "We can combine the best technologies for different tasks, such as relational databases for transaction data and solutions like Hadoop for big data. All data flows are orchestrated through Pentaho Data Integration as the central scheduler for consistent results. Pentaho Business Analytics then presents the data, providing visualizations for advanced analytics and reporting."

While the Pentaho solutions were Initially installed on-premises, Mercateo recently decided to move them into the cloud as part of its wider IT strategy. "We're always looking for ways to make IT more efficient," says Meyer. "Moving workloads into the cloud helps us increase availability while reducing expenditure."

Mercateo deployed Pentaho Data Integration and Pentaho Business Analytics in an Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud environment. The company takes advantage of a complete DevOps workflow, built around an Infrastructure as Code setup with full version control in GitLab. The combination of GitLab Continuous Integration (CI) & Continuous Delivery (CD), Ansible automation software and HashiCorp Packer make it easy for the team to create Amazon Machine Images (AMI). Meanwhile, cloud deployment is handled by AWS CloudFormation, which enables quick scaling and rapid recovery to maximize the availability of the analytics solution.

Outcome: Unlock Instant Insights into Sales and Pricing for 200 Staff

With the Pentaho solutions, Mercateo has successfully implemented a centralized self-service BI solution. Business users benefit from instant access to data for reporting and analytics, including results from cutting-edge machine learning models.

Today, 200 business users in 14 countries rely on Pentaho Business Analytics to analyze data relating to 400 million items. Mercateo's marketing team uses Pentaho to measure the effectiveness of campaigns, while sales teams continuously optimize the pricing strategy.

The solution also enabled Mercateo to deliver new business services. For example, it uses Pentaho data to compile B2B Radar—a bi-monthly public report aimed at buyers, sellers and manufacturers in the B2B space. B2B Radar combines industry news and expert insights with exclusive data analysis, powered by Mercateo's Business Analytics teams, enabled with Pentaho.

For the Data Science team, the fact that Pentaho makes reporting accessible for business users saves time and effort. Meyer comments: "We are a small team of ten people, so it would be extremely difficult for us to compile reports for 200 business users manually. When we develop specific reports, the process takes about two weeks. By contrast, users create reports themselves within minutes or hours with the self-service features of Pentaho Data Analytics. Users can quickly do their own analysis using a simple drag-and-drop interface, no specialist IT knowledge is needed."

The flexible management of users and roles to control permissions on who can access what data is another big efficiency gain, which also supports the company's strict data protection practices.

From an IT perspective, the automated cloud deployment enables more cost-efficient infrastructure decisions—like moving to configurations that improve availability and performance without requiring additional licenses. It also supports smart optimizations, including scaling resources down overnight to minimize infrastructure costs.

"Using the cloud, we can optimize deployments much more flexibly," explains Meyer. "Instead of one big server with many processor cores, we can run two or four smaller instances each with fewer processor cores to make sure business users get the best experience."

In the past, the team would sometimes spend days debugging issues. "Today, the auto-recovery capabilities of the load-balanced cloud instances enable us to take a hands-off approach to infrastructure management," notes Meyer. "This frees the IT team to focus on value-add tasks while guaranteeing uptime. Crucially, it also ensures that business users always have reliable access to the data they need."

Meyer concludes, "We're delighted with the flexibility and performance of our Pentaho solutions, which have already proven to be extremely valuable. We're confident that Pentaho will continue to support critical business decision-making at Mercateo."

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