Moving away from an in-house dashboard helps the data team at 99.co focus their time on analysis and insights, while freeing up engineering resources to deliver on their product roadmap. Business teams can now get immediate answers to questions from their data, which help them make business decisions.
About 99.co, a property portal
99.co is the first property search portal in Singapore to prioritize the end consumer experience first. It helps consumers make better renting or buying decisions, and delivers highly qualified leads to property agents with online and mobile tools to make their work more efficient.
Unlike its competitors, 99.co prides itself on displaying unbiased search results, personalized to the query of the end user and sorted by the quality of the listing data versus by the promotional spend of the agents.
Problem: Difficult to maintain in-house dashboard
However, maintaining this dashboard required significant engineering effort. While it did its job, lots of time was spent building and maintaining them. It wasn’t as simple as writing an SQL query but involved adding significant amounts of python code to perform the map-reduce jobs.
1. Time to Add/Edit New Reports
Adding new reports was an incredible hassle that involved adding significant amounts of python code to run map-reduce jobs. Modifying reports sometimes introduced bugs that affected the whole reporting dashboard, cutting down data access to the business teams.
2. Troubleshooting Data Quality
There was no single source of truth as bugs often skew the numbers. When the data does not look right, the engineering and data team has to spend time troubleshooting whether there was a bug in their code, or if there are issues with the way they collect, track, or extract their data.
Instead of saving time from accessing data, both their data and engineering team spent more time troubleshooting data quality issues by constantly matching and comparing data from their dashboards with data that they queried out manually.
3. Time Spent Waiting for Reports
It was very difficult for non-technical business users to generate queries themselves, resulting in the data team bearing the sole burden of attending to data update requests from other team members. The dashboard also lacked basic capabilities, such as the automatic scheduling of email reports, which resulted in the team having to write their own cron and different graphing options.
Solution: Internal Data Warehouse + Holistics Data Platform
As their application gets more popular with users for listing and buying properties, among agents that reached up to 50% monthly growth, the amount of data that 99.co collects and analyzes has also increased exponentially.
When their internal data dashboard grew too big to maintain, 99.co realized that they needed a more effective way to manage their data infrastructure in order for them to drive the next level of growth with their data.
They wanted to find a way to join their various datasets more quickly and easily, while also allowing their non-engineering data team members to have access to the data. When they started looking at how other companies did it, it became clear that connecting their data warehouse with a third-party graphing solution was the way to go.
"We looked into a number of business intelligence tools before choosing Holistics as our go-to platform for analyzing and sharing company data reports, due to its deceptive ease of use, customizable filters, efficiency, scalability, and affordability for growing companies.
Holistics’ focus on dynamic SQL provides incredible finesse in how you query, and their SQL-first approach means the UI is there to help you when you need it, but doesn’t stop you from getting down in the dirt when you need to. The real learning curve was learning how to write SQL queries that would have traditionally been done in code.
Also, if we have two separate datasets that would provide insights by joining or comparing them, Holistics made it ridiculously easy to both do so and to visualize the results.”
Conor McLaughlin, Co-Founder
Benefits - Ease of adoption and a data informed culture
Getting started with Holistics was pretty easy for 99.co. Technical and data teams saw the value of Holistics, and adapted easily to Holistics.
1. Gaining data-driven customer insights
Reports and metrics such as cohort retention, trend analysis, transaction synthesizing, and mailing lists are easily published and shared on Holistics across the company
If we can’t measure a metric, we can’t improve it. Holistics has helped shed light on more metrics and indicators that were previously invisible to us.
For listing quality and listing acquisition, we’ve seen a 50% improvement in our quality and quantity of listings in high-demand/high-impact areas. We know what supply we need to meet our growing demand!
Conor McLaughlin, Co-Founder
Some examples of these reports include:
- Key metrics and data points the team wants to track are easily available, including:
- How many users they have, and which agencies they were from, over any period of time
- How many enquiries have their application sent to the agents What types of keywords (most popular ones, etc.) are used in their listings
- How many times the listings are viewed, segregated by property type and price-range etc.
Their favorite Holistics feature is the ability to create custom retention charts directly from 99.co’s own database data.
Ultimately retention is the true indicator of how much value you’re providing for your customer base and those who stick around longer and much more likely to pay
2. More effective data analysis; not internal data plumbing
Working with the Holistics team makes us feel like we have someone in our corner and we don’t have to shoulder the burden of data warehousing and analysis ourselves.
Designed for data analysts to build reports in the most effective way through SQL, Holistics allows the 99.co data team to help the company build reports that answer even the most complex questions they have from their data.
“The Holistics filters allows the same report to be customizable in so many ways for the business teams to access their data in the format they need. For example, they can now access a report on enquiries segmented by property value, user type aggregated by day, week, or month. Information on the total number of agents covering the various districts in Singapore can be shared easily with no additional explanation needed.”
Gabriel Chong, Data Operations Manager
An added bonus from moving their previous in-house data dashboard to Holistics was that 99.co can now schedule reports and metrics to be emailed automatically without the need to write cron jobs/scheduled tasks manually, so their business is always on top of their data.
3. Raising data proficiency
Holistics allows data-proactive business users to learn and build on their knowledge of SQL reporting, without the overheads of learning how to install, manage, and operate a database administration tool on their workstations.
Users who were originally not familiar with SQL took the opportunity to learn from existing reports to build their own queries.
"Ever since we’ve implemented Holistics, there has been at least a 4-fold increase in the number of team members who can generate their own queries!"
Grace Tang, Data Scientist
Holistics SQL-Geeks, a complimentary email for any SQL related questions made it simple for them to answer any questions they have on SQL.
*Our non-technical teams (marketing, customer happiness, business development, etc.) all love Holistics. Special mention also goes to the speedy and excellent support from the awesome “sql-geeks” team at Holistics, who always went the extra mile in helping us! They have always been very fast to respond to our feedback or requests, even to the point of answering our questions surrounding SQL! *
The morale of the data team went up as they no longer felt the psychological burden of being the company’s data bottleneck compared to before, and have more confidence and control over their data needs. With Holistics, they were also able to quickly identify data quality issues and focus on fixing it from the source.
The flow of questions also helped the company brainstorm and generate new ideas for data analysis and hypothesis building. As the data team gets more effective in handling their colleagues’ requests, they become more able to feed on the ideas and to ask more questions from their data, in order to build more hypotheses and recommendations.
Together, the software data platform, responsive customer experience, and unsurpassed level of support from Holistics made it possible for the 99.co team to fully realize the benefits of a data informed culture across their company.