Intercom uses Fivetran to centralize Zuora data into Redshift and join it with product, marketing, sales and other data for reports and dashboards.
Intercom needed a reliable solution to integrate its Zuora data into Redshift. With Fivetran, the business has trusted data as well as transparency into the data-extraction process. The overall manual labor associated with errors and discrepancies in data has been reduced from about 10 hours a week to one hour. The business now joins product, marketing, sales and pre-sales data with financial data from Zuora, Stripe and NetSuite to drive business decisions.
Destination: Amazon Redshift
Business Intelligence Tool: Tableau
Intercom is a software company that created the world’s first Conversational Relational Platform to help businesses build better customer relationships through personalized, messenger-based experiences.
After years of managing all invoicing systems for recurring subscriptions internally, Intercom added Zuora to its finance stack to improve the resiliency of its subscription management tools. When it tried to integrate its Zuora data into Redshift with its existing ETL solution, Intercom faced a number of issues that Perry Wang, Head of Analytics Engineering, knew were critical:
We encountered what we would consider product-breaking errors in the Zuora and Marketo extractions. From a usability perspective, we didn’t feel like we had the relationship to escalate these product-level issues and get a rapid resolution. We needed a tool with more observability, that was product-driven and responsive to customer needs.
The analytics engineering team evaluated how Fivetran extracted and loaded the data with a particular focus on the transparency of the extraction and pipeline process. Fivetran offered visibility into the pipeline that Intercom did not previously have. Wang estimates that Intercom would need at least two to three engineers to build and one to maintain a similar pipeline if it didn’t have Fivetran.
With the Zuora connector, Intercom has been able to build a significant amount of finance and accounting-related transformations that have reduced the overall manual labor associated with errors and discrepancies from around 10 hours a week to just one hour. Wang explains the impact this has had on the business:
Previously, we had to share SQL queries between finance, analytics and accounting because we didn’t have a central way to store this information. We’ve gone from mostly manual reporting processes to mostly automated processes on top of the Zuora, NetSuite and Stripe data that we get through Fivetran. We can then join that data directly with our product data without resorting to manual workarounds. The data has become increasingly trusted by financial reporting teams, executives and more. The automation here is critical.
Wang notes that the automation and reliability of Fivetran has been especially critical during COVID-19:
Even in the current COVID-19 business environment, our strategy teams never have to wonder, "Is the data ready to go?" They know the data will always be ready to go in the morning and that they can use it to keep up with the pace of change.
Intercom is constantly looking at ways to combine cross-product, marketing, sales and pre-sales data, with the financial data from Zuora and Stripe to drive business decisions. The data is used on a recurring basis in all financial reports, top-line executive reporting and go-to-market business reviews. Below are a number of examples of ways that Intercom uses its data:
The accounting team uses the data to consider its general accounting principles, such as how it manages payments and accounts receivable.
The financial planning and analysis team uses segmentation and customer performance data to develop a long-term strategy.
Revenue and customer information informs the core customer lifetime value model: a predictive model based on the invoices collected from Zuora.
Finance and marketing data helps the business increase efficiency with paid ad spend.
Zuora data informs how the business allocates costs, and evaluates performance and profitability.
Wang recognizes that while Zuora was what prompted the move, using Fivetran to integrate multiple data sources has enabled the business to quickly join accurate data for critical insights:
Finance and accounting teams are working more on strategy, not tracking down numbers. The product team is working on feature development attributed to higher lifetime value. We couldn’t have done this just because we had Zuora — it’s about joining that data with more data from Salesforce, marketing, ad spend, and beyond. Our time to value and insight is much faster.
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About Fivetran: Shaped by the real-world needs of data analysts, Fivetran technology is the smartest, fastest way to replicate your applications, databases, events and files into a high-performance cloud warehouse. Fivetran connectors deploy in minutes, require zero maintenance, and automatically adjust to source changes — so your data team can stop worrying about engineering and focus on driving insights.
About Amazon Redshift: Amazon Redshift is a fast, fully managed, petabyte-scale data warehouse solution that makes it simple and cost-effective to efficiently analyze all of your data using your existing business intelligence tools.
About Tableau: Tableau helps people see and understand their data. The Tableau platform provides the breadth and depth of capabilities that enterprises need, and adapts to your environment with unmatched flexibility and choice, while meeting the toughest governance and security requirements. People love using Tableau because it is both powerful and intuitive. Tableau leads the industry with the most passionate user community, over 86,000 customer accounts, and a commitment to customer-focused innovation.