Managing customers’ financial portfolios is a core part of Craigs’ business. To provide the best advice and service to their customers, Craigs requires high quality, in-depth analysis of portfolios and portfolio performance. With a network of investment advisors around the country, Craigs also needs to ensure they meet internal compliance and that the advice given by advisors meets their consistently high standards.
Seeking a flexible platform
With over 60,000 active customer portfolios under management, collectively comprising nearly a million asset positions and a history going back over 35 years, Craigs has a large set of data to analyse. Before this project, an on-premises solution was being used to calculate portfolio performance metrics. Although the solution was functional and generating the correct figures, it was taking over 24 hours to produce key metrics for the full dataset. This was not proving effective in providing timely, value-add insights that are critical to Craigs. Furthermore, the limitations of the on-premises solution were making it difficult to see richer and more complex analysis.
Assessing, planning and migrating to Azure
Craigs saw the need to find a solution that improved operational efficiency and provided a platform to deliver deeper insights for their customers and internal stakeholders and turned to Theta for help.
Theta worked with Craigs to design and implement an advanced analytics capability in Azure. The solution uses the latest Microsoft ‘Modern Data Warehouse’ reference architecture, harnessing the power of Azure to move the data and deliver fast analytics insights.
The advantages of Azure for Craigs lie in the breadth and power of the advanced analytics tools available in the Azure suite, and the ease of transition from their existing on-premises Microsoft environment.
"Theta have worked with us closely for a number of years to develop our Analytics capability. They have led the way in demonstrating the power of Azure to us and in helping us to make the transition into the cloud." Stuart Prendergast, Head of Technology
Powerful new insights for customers and stakeholders
The key benefits to Craigs from this project have been:
· Improved performance and efficiency: The new solution returns insights over 90% faster than the existing solution (2 hours vs 24 hours for one key process)
· Increased capability and enablement: The power and flexibility of the new Azure analytics platform is allowing Craigs to undertake a range of increasingly valuable advanced analytics and machine learning tasks that the business has been asking for, but which their old platform had restricted them from carrying out
The advanced analytics platform has several use-cases within Craigs:
· Customer insights – The platform generates daily performance metrics and insights. These are fed directly into Craigs’ external-facing customer portal, which gives their customers insight into their portfolio and how its performance is tracking over time and against various benchmarks. Being able to provide this visibility and information to customers about their asset management is a crucial customer service outcome.
“Good data is the lifeblood of an organization like Craigs. Increased analytics is helping us to understand and serve our customers better, and I’m excited about the opportunities that this solution brings.” Stephen Jonas, Head of Client Services
· Visibility for stakeholders – Power BI is used for internal management and monitoring purposes. These Power BI reports provide essential visibility to internal stakeholders, such as the ‘Quality of Advice’ team, allowing them to support their work in ensuring that customers are given consistently high-quality advice.
· Ad-hoc analysis - Data analysts at Craigs receive frequent requests to provide in-depth analysis in response to internal business priorities or to meet requests from external regulatory bodies. The Azure analytics platform gives the analysts a powerful toolset for advanced analytics and machine learning, enabling them to respond even more effectively to the information needs of the business.
“Moving our Analytics platform to Azure opens up a lot of options for us and is transforming our capability to provide accurate and timely data to our customers and business users. The Azure ecosystem is now so rich that it greatly accelerates our ability to facilitate data-driven innovation within Craigs.” Stuart Prendergast
The Advanced Analytics solution developed for Craigs was designed to leverage the power of Azure technologies, aligning to a Modern Data Warehouse reference architecture:
- Azure Data Factory –data movement and process orchestration
- Azure Data Lake (Gen 2) – highly scalable storage and analytics
- Azure Databricks –fast, flexible advanced analytics capabilities
- Analysis Services – analytical processing and data mining
- Power BI – data visualisation