Driving Data Value – Origins of The Data Refinery

Coming from a career filled with frustration of disjointed data, our CEO Anna Sutton founded The Data Refinery along with Ed Thewlis to give non-techy people the ability to access the full value in their data.

Never in a million years did I imagine I’d be running a tech business. With a background in marketing, a specific lack of any STEM subjects in my history and a total inability to write code – you can probably see why it’s come as such a shock!

Our story starts back in 2009; I’d just got a new marketing job in a team called “Value Management”. The company combined Marketeers with Data Scientists and tasked us with generating value for the business and its customers by combining our powers. Something which is starting to become common now, but back then was mind-blowing.

It was the place I met Ed (Co-Founder and CTO of The Data Refinery) and was the first time in my career that I got anywhere near to working with data to deliver insight that wasn’t cobbled together in a spreadsheet. I was hooked.

Siloed data problems

Fast forward a few years, I’d moved roles into marketing for an e-commerce platform. The problem? The customer data was in one database, the transactions in another. I couldn’t even do any basic purchase-based segmentation.

From previously working with Ed, I’d picked up a few things about matching data and could see there was a match key (okay, there was a customer ID in both data sets – it wasn’t rocket science) and I knew it should be a relatively simple problem to solve.

As is common across non-tech focused companies, there was zero data resource available in the IT team to do a simple join of data.

So once again, I was stuck with my spreadsheets.

I rang Ed (who was still working at our old place), explained the problem and he told me I wasn’t going mad. I lamented that there was no tool that allowed non-techy people to integrate data sources.

A lightbulb went off for both of us.

A data product for all

We wanted to build a product to solve common problems that both Ed and I have seen, both in our careers and the challenges we’ve seen our clients face.

It was really important to us that the Refinery was built on solid matching experience (that’s Ed’s specialism – he’s a data AND linguistics nerd – it helps when looking at words) so that users could really TRUST the insight they were getting.

Through our other company The Data Shed, we’ve been using a range of proven techniques and approaches to matching to deliver large-scale, bespoke projects across most industries for the better part of a decade. All the knowledge and experience we’ve gained in implementing these bespoke matching engines is being fed into the underlying functionality of The Data Refinery.

The Data Refinery is a fully managed SaaS Customer Data Platform with data warehouse functionality to combine and store all your business data in one location, with built-in report automation and predictive analytical models.

All your data is combined from wherever it’s stored, matched, cleaned, and outputted as a solid data foundation ready to be used to generate reliable insight.

Right out of the box there’s a wide range of management and tactical level functionality I’d have given my right arm to get a hold of all those years ago! From real-time KPIs and reporting dashboards to data-driven segmentation and attribution models – The Data Refinery is an all-in-one product to enable you to maximise the value from your data at all levels of your organisation.

One of the key value drivers is the time-saving element. It makes me shudder to think how many working hours are lost in the dark arts of manual data sorcery to create monthly board reports across the land. The Data Refinery puts all the key performance metrics at your fingertips, saving hours each week in repetitive manual data wrangling tasks.

No SQL? No problem, you certainly don’t need to be able to code to access your insight here – after all, data is only really valuable if someone is using it to drive value for the organisation through better-informed decision making. Why put skills barriers in the way?

Most importantly (from my personal experience), it’s not complicated or labour intensive to set up. We use APIs to link to your data sources and typically you’ll start to see the insight pouring out of the tool within 48 hours.

Driving data value with a single source of truth

We’re passionate about The Data Refinery and our mission to give every organisation the ability to access and activate the full value of their data. It’s our way of levelling the playing field for start-ups and other SMEs – ultimately it's about helping folks who don’t have the resources (or need) to build a data department or a bespoke data warehouse.

So much can be achieved without making a huge investment in dedicated resources – if you want to know more about how The Data Refinery could help you, get in touch.

We’d love to show you how you can get the most value from your data!

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