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CNC: The journey from Excel spreadsheets to automated data pipelines and fast, reliable insights

Learn how CNC accelerated its digital transformation and upgraded the data team's processes.

Customer Stories
February 2, 2022
CNC: The journey from Excel spreadsheets to automated data pipelines and fast, reliable insights
Learn how CNC accelerated its digital transformation and upgraded the data team's processes.

Founded in 1991, CNC (Czech News Center) is one of the largest media companies in the Czech Republic. They offer dozens of print and online publications to the Czech market, including Blesk, Aha!, and E15. A commitment to journalistic integrity has enabled their growth, now reaching millions of readers.

Like many companies of this size, CNC faces the challenge of managing vast data sets from over 70 disparate sources. Handling those data is vital for measuring KPIs, evaluating finances and sharing 550+ performance results with their advertising partners—CNC's largest source of revenue.

We hopped on a call with Josef Pokorný, a business analyst at CNC, to see how Keboola has changed its business.

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Meet Josef: Helping CNC Do More with Keboola

Josef was hired at CNC as a member of their emerging business intelligence (BI) team, an instrumental aspect of the company's plans for digital transformation and strategy.

Josef's primary focus at CNC is to build company-wide reporting, analyze the company data, and present easy-to-understand results to high and mid-level executives.

With his experience in data analytics and familiarity with Keboola, Josef was the natural choice to take the reins of this tool when the data team at CNC added it to their tech stack.

Leaving the legacy tools behind

Before Keboola, CNC managed their data with various tools, including Google Data Studio, PowerBI, and SAP Business Warehouse. However, more often than not, they relied on Excel spreadsheets, Google sheets, emails, and even printed handbooks.

These legacy tools may have been easier to use for some team members, but ultimately, this traditional approach led to more wasted time and operational inefficiencies. There was a clear need for greater data centralization, simplicity, and automation at CNC. 

At first, CNC considered alternative solutions, such as building their entire data infrastructure on Google's Data Cloud. However, after weighing up the options, Keboola’s user-friendly interface was more appealing.

“With the Google Cloud Platform, there are so many rules and options—it’s complicated to get started,” explains Josef. 

Former co-CEO Juraj Felix spearheaded the digital transformation when he insisted on a new tech stack in BI team. Keboola is used for data integration in a way that supports existing solutions at CNC while also advancing new ones. Tableau is a tool of choice for unified reporting and visual analytics. Google Analytics 4 was implemented as the key source of information for content and web analytics.

However, most of the team lacked experience in Keboola. 

“Keboola Academy launched at just the right time when we were onboarding the tool, making it easy to train new users and get them up to speed,” explains Josef.

This access to the learning modules and support from Keboola Academy was a game-changer for the data team at CNC. 

“With Keboola, we get that training and personal touch that we can’t get with Google.”

Soon after embracing the new software, the benefits of Keboola quickly became apparent at CNC. The entire workflow of how the team manages data is different. Now, instead of manually handling data with Excel sheets or writing R to a local machine, whole BI team runs some orchestrations at night and checks for errors in the morning. This process would have proved far too time-consuming before.

“For me, it’s like going from 0 to 100.”

It turns out that the time-saving gains are just the tip of the iceberg for how Keboola has helped CNC. 

5 ways CNC uses Keboola to pursue its goals for growth, profitability, and sustainability

1. Improved targeting for advertising

CNC depends on revenue for advertising as the important source of income. Over 100 salespeople sell advertising in this space, which encompasses over 1,000 specific advertisement products. Tools built on top of data processed with Keboola empower the salespeople with granular analytics insights, helping them identify the most relevant ads for a given advertiser based on their target market.

3. Unifying teams to streamline data pipeline

Each member of the BI team is an expert in their given area, whether that’s in web analytics, advertisements, market research, finance, or sales. Therefore, there are “analytical” and “management” brains involved at every stage of the data pipeline.

Keboola offers a centralized dashboard that facilitates data-sharing data between projects, so individual users can extract, analyze, and use the data they need without facing the issue of information overload. Team members at CNC can alternate between Tableau (for visualization) and Keboola (for data cleaning via SQL transformations), streamlining the workflow.

4. Enhanced integrations to save time

Building data infrastructure in Keboola is an important prerequisite for further use-cases of BI team and other departments at CNC. Those are not just reporting, but many advanced analytics tasks or sourcing data to other specialized software.

Therefore, Josef finds himself using Keboola's pre-developed extractors, scaffolds, and other components more than anything to save time in data integration and keep more time for value-generating use-cases.

Even when there is no specific component for a given system and even the Generic extractor fails, Keboola still allows him to script some scraper in python or even builds the entire new component to operate some specific API.  For instance, he can create an extractor for Tableau server metadata to maximize the value they can get from Tableau. 

5. Simple orchestrations and pipeline monitoring

Orchestrations used to be a giant headache for Josef, but Keboola enables the team to improve the distribution and organization of data processes across multiple departments.

“In other tools, the orchestration is difficult, but it is a matter of minutes in Keboola. Moreover, we often implement some data quality tests directly to code and get all these important notifications from regular pipelines directly to Slack channel, so everyone is well informed in case of any issue.”

CNC needs to be able to take data and create actionable intelligence on a regular basis. Data processed by Keboola allows their team to replace intuition with data-driven intelligence, which steers the discussion toward informed decision-making that can be verified and justified every day

Accelerating digital transformation with Keboola

With the help of Keboola, CNC has gone from handwritten notes and Excel spreadsheets to automated data pipelines, intuitive extraction and analysis, and best of all, fast, reliable insights.

Data tasks that previously took a lot of time and human resources across multiple departments are now possible to complete overnight with minimal demands on the staff. In fact, they can use orchestration and extractors to automate many tasks in just minutes. There has been improvement in everything from invoicing to automation to optimizations.

Keboola empowers the team at CNC to collect, analyze, and manage data in more effective ways to support the business objectives and provide actionable insights and evaluations to key decision-makers and stakeholders. With this software in its tech stack, CNC saves time, money, and human resources, and the team is identifying more opportunities to increase advertising revenue.

“We are showing our partners and advertisers that we’re a data-driven company. And Keboola is the right tool to achieve that.”

Are you ready to optimize how your company manages data?

Get in touch and start building a better data future.

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