Oakland Group

A major UK media organisation

Creating a customer data platform for long-term innovation

This UK-based digital media organisation had been deploying a series of digital products to capitalise on shifting consumer behaviours with media consumption.

Although these digital products had built-in advertising and monetisation, there was still a need to enhance personalisation and expand their capability.

The ability to make marketing more targeted through features such as in-app recommendations, customisation and real-time activation were vital parts of the strategy to improve the overall customer experience across the digital products.

In this case study, we explain how Oakland created a customer data platform for long-term innovation with the finished products and their internal delivery capabilities.

Subscriber growing pains

The media company had struggled to increase its subscriber base within its digital products group and was losing out on advertising revenue to competing products and formats.

This demand for growth and competitive advantage created urgency and an aggressive timeline for the business to develop and deploy new capabilities.

Central to the revised architecture and direction of this new capability was the need for a customer data platform.

The next challenge was finding a partner to help build the platform.

Partnering with Oakland

The media company was looking for a partner to work side-by-side with their existing team, one who could provide data engineering and DataOps, whilst helping the media company scale and meet its longer-term delivery needs.

Because the company lacked internal DataOps skills, it needed a partner with the right experience to help upskill its existing data engineers in DevOps and DataOps best practices.

Oakland’s unique expertise and delivery background provided the ideal choice.

Building the right foundation

Oakland started with a cross-functional team of architects, engineers, and DevOps/DataOps engineers to support the build of the customer data platform.

The team architected the data infrastructure and integration components using cloud-native tooling to enable real-time data ingestion, persistence, and movement. These components helped to drive the personalisation and recommendation capabilities of the company’s digital products.

Following data architecture alignment, Oakland data engineers then focused on building robust data pipelines and scalable repositories for the movement and landing of data.

DevOps engineers helped increase the platform’s scale and speed through an ‘infrastructure as code’ approach – eliminating unnecessary manual administration and bottlenecks.

Working closely with the in-house DevOps team, Oakland helped assure that a continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD) pipeline was also structured and deployed.

Hitting a clear target

As part of upskilling and internal capability building, the Oakland team also developed a Target Operating Model (TOM), along with key recommendations for how the company should shape its rapidly growing DataOps function.

For a team that was quickly increasing its skills and headcount, adopting an operating model became critical to success, providing gains such as:

• Greater control and governance across the delivery cycle
• More streamlined and insightful execution
• Better reporting, KPIs and performance tracking
• Increased clarity over the functional split and handoffs between teams

The Target Operating Model provided clear areas of investigation for making the newly created function even more effective.

Through significant effort, collaboration, and resource expertise, the combined Oakland and client team deployed a functional minimum viable product (MVP) in 3 months, integrating a range of data sources and driving real-time data movement with persistence across a modern cloud technology stack.

How did the media company benefit from the Oakland experience?

Transforming the team

Oakland helped the client product teams transform their non centralised delivery model into a fully centralised, world class IT/DevOps capability.

With a comprehensive Target Operating Model in place, underpinned by a common tech stack and modern, robust architecture, the client could finally scale development and delivery without the risk of slipping deadlines or sacrificing the solution quality.

Our novel and effective setup allowed every engineer in the team to effortlessly deploy and test new code in a live environment simultaneously – without conflict or unwanted side effects.

The technical lead can easily approve any pending code changes, ensuring the rapid deployment of any number of authorised and quality-checked features into their target environments.

Transforming the product and customer experience

Across the digital product suite, the client was finally able to achieve its key ambitions of:

All through exploiting its next generation customer data platform and world-class delivery capability.