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Modern Data + AI Integration:Strategies and Architectures

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Maximize your NetSuite Analytics Warehouse Investment with Third-Party Data

During SuiteWorld 2023, Smarte Carte and Arcadia Cold joined Nexla’s CEO to share their first-hand experience integrating third-party data into the NetSuite ecosystem to gain accurate insights based on real-time data, available at a moment’s notice. Chris Farrier, Senior Director of Finance at SmarteCarte, and Chris Lafaire, Chief Information Officer at Arcadia Cold, shared how Nexla helped them reduce their time to insight by automating the data engineering behind the scenes, making it easy to build any data pipeline from any data system, at any speed, to and from NetSuite Analytics Warehouse, OpenAir, NetSuite ERP, Autonomous Data Warehouse, and more in the NetSuite ecosystem.

Video Transcript

Saket [Nexla]: Hi, my name is Saket, I’m the co-founder and CEO of Nexla. It is my pleasure to welcome you to this session. If you are a user of NetSuite Analytics Warehouse (NSAW) or planning to use NSAW, then this is just the right session for you to learn how you can maximize your outcomes with NSAW.

To quickly introduce Nexla, we are a company based in San Mateo, California across the freeway from the main global office of Oracle. Our mission is to make data ready to use for the users of data through a combination of automation and collaboration tools. We make sure that a data user, such as a business analyst, can have data in their hands. A whole host of companies rely on Nexla including some of the biggest global enterprises as well as a range of NSAW users.

Now we all know that behind beautiful dashboards is rich, clean data delivered in a timely fashion. You get the full richness of NSAW dashboards when you combine the NetSuite data with a host of other business data. That data can come from a variety of places and systems with different formats and velocities: tools within your organization or even data from external services and partners. This is exactly where Nexla is the highest-rated tool by Gartner for being a simple, but powerful no-code tool, that users can love as an accelerator and as a force multiplier. To share the ease and power of Nexla, I’m excited for two of our customers to share their stories in their own words.

I’m joined by Chris LaFaire, CIO at Arcadia Cold, a new 3PL company in the cold storage business. I’ll let Chris share more about his background and how he has leveraged Nexla to bring tremendous richness to NSAW.

Chris LaFaire [Arcadia Cold]: Arcadia Cold is a new 3PL company in the cold storage business. As a new company, we have the luxury of building new warehouses with the latest refrigeration technologies. Data plays an upfront part of our strategy at Arcadia Cold because it’s very important for our customers to not only see inventory, but to see it in real time, and data means having it accurate.

Even though we have many warehouses, each one uses its own warehouse system. So we needed a way to consolidate data from multiple systems into one simple and single source of data for our customers. Nexla has helped us do just that.

Nexla works natively with Oracle NetSuite, NSAW, and NetSuite Analytics Warehouse (NSAW). We implemented the integration with our third-party warehouse and NSAW. After using Nexla to extract data from our third-party warehouse system, we noticed that Nexla had a lot more potential. We learned that we could use Nexla as a central hub for our data strategy. We currently use Nexla to integrate our HR payroll system with NetSuite ERP, and our billing system with NetSuite ERP.

We found a tool that helps us integrate all of these solutions. Nexla actually helped us go to market faster without having to buy second, third, or fourth-tier middleware applications to integrate across multiple platforms and systems. Overall, the time to market compared to taking another approach and using each vendor’s middleware accelerated the project probably by 9 months compared to using Nexla, which was easy to implement in under 3 months. I believe that the savings that Nexla has given us by eliminating 3 to 4 other integration tools has reduced the integration budget by 50%-60% across all applications.

It has given us a better position in the market in terms of data access for our customers. Nexla gathers data from all of these different systems and presents one single thing to our customers so they can see in one location all of their inventory information and get it all in real time. We’ve had conversations with customers. When they see the availability of our data in our portal supported by Nexla, they are surprised by how much they can access via self-service. So I think that gives us a competitive advantage in terms of providing the data for our customers.

One of the things we like about Nexla was the low-code strategy or the low-code objective, which is really that you don’t have to be an expert in any programming language to move data between point A and point B. Being a new company, we didn’t have all of the staff and all of the expertise that knew all of the technologies. As we were using Nexla, we came to know how easy it was that our business users are now helping create dataflows. It’s really pointing Nexla to the source and pointing Nexla to the target. It actually has a wizard that actually prompts the user, “How should I import the data? Should I transform the data?” You actually get a very good visual of how Nexla can transform the data. It actually gives you an example of the transformation of the data. So I think this low-code environment has been really helpful for us because even IT resources that may not be familiar with Nexla, it was really easy for them to adopt the technology and build new flows.

In IT, something will always go wrong. I love that we get alerts when the source data changes or the target is not available or when there is any type of hiccup. Nexla sends alerts to notify us that things are happening, things are changing. So it gives us proactive alerts when things might be failing and even before anyone notices. So it’s not only the implementation of the tool, it’s also the upkeep and monitoring, what I say feeding and caring of the tool, is really easy.

I strongly recommend IT leaders to look closely at a tool that can integrate multiple systems using multiple integration methods. I named a few earlier: SFTP, APIs. All of the ERP and warehouse vendors have their own middleware. It works well within their own ecosystems, but when integrating with other systems, it’s difficult and sometimes very expensive. Or it becomes shelfware, some of you may know what I’m talking about. Nexla can fit the bill on having multiple integration methods across many platforms, and it’s truly platform-agnostic. So we faced many challenges in terms of resources, skills with the resources, data integration points, and Nexla has helped us bridge the gap between business knowledge, business skills, IT skills, and the platform that helps us move data back and forth.

I believe that we’re currently working as a partnership with Nexla, not simply as a vendor. I think that we have a strong relationship that has grown beyond the confines of a signed contract. Whenever we have a question, such as how to implement something, we trust our partner to give us quick and helpful responses, going beyond simply closing the ticket. So I think Nexla also partners with and supports customers, treating us as partners as we treat them. Therefore, I would classify Nexla as one of our trusted partners.

Saket: As you can see, Arcadia has an amazing story of choosing a best-in-class product to achieve both flexibility and speed across a variety of data systems. So next, I want to chat about another aspect of data which is real-time data and activating data to immediate business and revenue impact.

Let me introduce Chris Farrier, Director of Finance at Smarte Carte. Smarte Carte is a company we all know from the luggage carts at every airport. These are smart devices where real-time data at high volume and with high reliability empowers the team at Smarte Carte to create wonders. Let’s listen to Chris in his own words.

Chris Farrier [Smarte Carte]: Smarte Carte is the leading provider of luggage carts at airports, but also we provide strollers at malls or lockers in many different venues such as ski resorts and amusement parks and other locations like that.

Data is a huge component of the Smarte Carte world. Because we own and operate all our equipment, we need to make sure that the equipment is live, up and running and operational for all the users of our product. So if you are coming into an airport, and you need a cart, we want to make sure that the equipment there is ready to give you a cart.

So from a data perspective, one of the things we’ve really moved forward with in the last few years is the ability to get communication to and from all our equipment in the field. And that process of absorbing all of that data is a substantial process. When utilizing Nexla’s product, when a piece of equipment goes down and we’re not receiving we know it’s down because we’re not receiving a scheduled ping and when that scheduled ping doesn’t come in, then we can automatically notify the manager to hey, this unit hasn’t responded in the last 30 minutes, can you go check and make sure it’s running? And that has substantially improved our uptime of all our equipment.

All of our data is stored in NSAW. And that’s relatively new to us. We just went live on NetSuite 4 months ago or so and along with that, we went live with NSAW. We had not had a data warehouse prior. We’ve been utilizing Amazon storage services, perhaps some were automated to go into Google storage services, but now using Nexla and other ETL tools, we’re bringing all that into a single source of reportability in NSAW. The way I understand it is that we’re putting millions of records daily related to that. And from everything I’ve been told, that volume has been handled very well with Nexla.

Historically, we had significant troubles with upgrades and different things. Every time something would happen, it would break all those links. She would have to go back in, turn them all on, one at a time And from everything I’ve heard, all of our Nexla flows have been 100% reliable so far. They just work, and they’re very reliable. That’s a huge, huge component so that when you actually get what you need up and running, you don’t have to think about it because honestly, it’s kind of like your phone service you don’t want to have to think about is the phone gonna work when I turn it on you just expect it to work because you want to use the service. So when the service is there, you want it running and reliable.

I would say that one of the better cost saving measures we have is our report writer’s time in that prior to when we were now that we’re up and running in Nexla. Before that, on another product, she was spending up to 50-60% percent of her time doing maintenance of those dataflows to maintain the datasets that she was reporting on. Whereas in today’s world, she may spend just 5% of her time on that. So the saving is about half of her time in relation to just maintaining the data. It gives us more of an opportunity to have Rohitha working on the reports and providing valuable insights into the business versus just maintaining the data side that you would expect the ETL tool to take care of for you. The product has been extremely reliable. We’ve been able to maintain that reporting structure to the field to ensure that the equipment stays operational. Should we lose that capacity, we would definitely see an impact in our revenue stream by a full percentage point.

Having data is one thing, having actionable data is gonna provide you with something completely different that creates value. So one of the things that people should definitely consider is what are the requirements of your users. What are the requirements to make that data actionable and usable at that time, Where your users are. So keeping a broad mindset when evaluating products. Who’s gonna use this and what are they gonna use it for and what are the benefits of utilizing this tool versus the next for those particular situations.

So having that reliability and sustainability, Partnering with us, truly partnering with us, making themselves available. Helping us determine when we were trying to build up these ETLs, what was wrong, why was it wrong and getting those things fixed and corrected – That was the primary component that separated Nexla from other ETL tools that we were evaluating.

Saket: It’s lovely to hear from Chris how the reliability of high volume and real time data allowed his team to save so much time that was otherwise going towards maintenance and checking in on data and enable them to really focus on the key business value of building those dashboards and leveraging this data for better business outcomes.

We’ve heard from both Arcadia as well as Smarte Carte as to how powerful tools are enabling them to get the most from their efforts around NSAW and get the best possible business outcomes. Let’s now look at some of the best practices that we have seen across our users in NSAW when working with data.

There are many parts to it, but without going into too much detail. I must say that it all starts with, you know, strong data engineering and what is coming here is the no-code capabilities of Nexla are bringing data engineering into the hands of every user. What that means is you can work with data from many different systems. You can work with streaming data, and you can not only do that, Nexla tools are powerful enough to be easily extended beyond your immediate needs to also whatever you might need in the future. Migration of data is an extremely important aspect when you are adopting a new tool. That’s something that we support very well. It is also important for any tool that you’re using to support both analytics and data science use cases. You may start with one or the other, but realize that there are multiple stakeholders when it comes to you making most of the data that you have. And finally, I must say that while analytics and data science are extremely important data is essential to business operations making the data move across systems, connect information across applications is a very essential part of making sure that your entire system works in cohesion and helps you focus on what you need to do, which is running your business. Finally, as we wrap up this session I want to thank you so much for your time listening to our story and what capabilities Nexla brings into the NSAW ecosystem.

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