Using Hortonworks DataFlow (HDF), Royal Mail "went in, got the data, maybe not as close to the edges as other people are working, and moved that into Hortonworks DataPlatform (HDP). We then used Hortonworks to run the analytics, come up with the churn models and then used HDF to actually send that back into our visualisation." From there the marketing and sales teams could identify where attrition rates were high and take action to change it.
The advantage of using HDF, says Lee-Warren, is "the speed. And we are doing a lot of experimentation and I think the really exciting bit will be how we integrate this within our more conventional tool set."
The skills gap for big data experts was a common topic during the Hadoop Summit, but it's not an issue Royal Mail has faced.
Lee-Warren said: "I don't know if I am lucky, and it may be because we have a very attractive brand, but we're not finding it difficult to attract strong talent. A lot of the time I think data scientists get locked into a way of working that they find difficult and they like new challenges all the time, and we can provide that."
Royal Mail may not have delivered any eye popping projects yet but Lee-Warren and the rest of the Royal Mail group appear to have taken a very sensible route to deriving value from its large data volumes. By building out its infrastructure, partner network and focusing on hiring the right talent the building blocks do appear to all be in place.
As Lee-Warren said: "So really it's watch this space and in a year or so we will have some exciting stories to tell." We will keep you posted.
"We're accelerating that whole process, we're not having to spin up projects just to get data. We are able to accomplish a huge amount of work with single individuals," says Lee-Warren. "We see Hortonworks as our advanced analytics platform."
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