A huge challenge for organizations large and small is dealing with rapidly growing volumes of data. Ferreting out answers to key questions can determine whether a business soars or stumbles.
At online dating service eHarmony, data management challenges have led to a more focused approach centering on data governance. “In the past, we did not have the necessary level of visibility and insight into major business problems, ranging from marketing to matchmaking,” says Chief Operating Officer Armen Avedissian.
That was a big problem. eHarmony generates more than 13 million matches between users on a daily basis. As a company, it spends upward of $100 million annually acquiring new members through a variety of channels. Altogether, the company holds about 125 terabytes of data and the volume continues to swell.
“Unfortunately, in the past, we weren’t able to map out the entire lifecycle of the user and adapt and adjust our marketing and other strategies to fit our needs,” Avedissian explains. “We were burning millions of dollars a year through our inefficiencies.”
As a result, eHarmony turned to a MicroStrategy solution running on an IBM PureData platform to construct a more efficient data management and analytics model. It also plugged in statistical tools, including SPSS predictive analytics, to drill down further into the data. The platform, which runs in a private cloud, has introduced a level of insight that was previously unimaginable. For example, the firm had previously struggled with understanding conversion rates for different marketing channels and approaches.
“We knew how much we were spending on a particular channel, but couldn’t tie things back to the month of origin and understand what exactly was taking place within marketing and sales cycles,” Avedissian explains. “We also couldn’t identify the cost per subscription.”
Today, eHarmony’s staff has insights and answers at its fingertips in real time, including alerts, reports and recommendations. The data extends to mobile devices such as smartphones and iPads.
This has resulted in a number of gains. For instance, the company trimmed $5 million a year in marketing costs by identifying affiliate traffic that wasn’t leading to sales and making conversions. It saved another $5 million annually by identifying the cause of churn rates and nixing offers that allowed users to exit the service at any point in the subscription.
In addition, the analytics platform has led to a 75 percent reduction in ad hoc requests for data by introducing automated features along with better dashboards and reporting tools.
Finally, eHarmony has also used the data platform to improve its underlying service. At one point a few years ago, Avedissian says, the firm had hemorrhaged about 45 percent of its overall customer base because customers weren’t entirely happy with results. By tapping into big data more effectively, the dating service has improved its underlying algorithm and upped both its conversion rates and matches.
“We are better able to factor in customs and attitudes based on regional or international differences,” he reports. “We now have the data available to understand and run the business successfully.”