14 Apr

ABN SalesForce: L’ORÉAL “Salesforce is making a big difference as we move from a top-down conversation to p ersonalised engagement.”


“Salesforce is making a big difference as we move from a top-down conversation to personalised engagement.”

Salesforce Journey Builder maps L’Oréal’s customer journeys across 28 brands

Most businesses stick close to customers, but few cultivate relationships more intimate than global cosmetics giant L’Oréal. With 28 brands, including category icons Garnier, Maybelline and Lancôme, L’Oréal is on a mission to deliver ‘beauty for all’. If everything goes to plan they’ll attract one billion new customers. The company’s Australian operation is expected to play its part and aims to reach 2.5 million customers by 2020.

L’Oréal is leveraging Salesforce Marketing Cloud to get closer to customers and provide simple pathways to navigate L’Oréal’s many products.

Christophe Eymery, L’Oréal’s digital lead, explains the challenge faced by the 100 year-old business: “Our business was built brand by brand, and today we realise that customers are rarely dedicated to one brand – they’re multi-brand shoppers. The shift demands a portfolio approach to marketing and a multi-brand story,” he said.

Reaching more people, in more places, and doing that in a more personal way is massively complex – never mind that L’Oréal sells over 4,000 products.

Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s Journey Builder tool provides the right answers, offering a drag-and-drop graphical user interface for customer interactions, across all media and channels. The ‘digital canvas’ Journey Builder delivers to L’Oréal marketers ensures they’re able to map customer journeys and engage with customers and prospects on a more intimate level.

“Years ago TV and magazines were the main instruments of mass communication,” said Eymery. “Nowadays we have an amazing opportunity with new technologies, and this is where Salesforce Journey Builder provide a holistic view of our touch-points. We can identify how and where our customers engage with our brands – on social media, offline or online, mobile, on their way to work, at work, wherever, whenever. We track all those customer interactions in Journey Builder and deliver messages at the right time.”

The centrepiece of L’Oréal’s personalised customer experience – and a key touch-point in the journey L’Oréal customers travel – is an app called Makeup Genius. The virtual makeup tester uses a sophisticated algorithm that effectively turns a smartphone into a mirror, allowing customers to try makeup and products on themselves to create their own look. In just six weeks 500,000 Australians downloaded the app.

Where Journey Builder provides L’Oréal with the framework for continuing the conversation, Salesforce Marketing Cloud module Social Studio is the company’s eye and ears.

There’s a lot to track. According to L’Oréal, in Australia, alone, there are 40,000 beauty-related conversations on social media every day. Social Studio does the hard work, sifting conversations for intelligence that will steer future sales campaigns. Using Social Studio’s Content Calendar, L’Oréal coordinates social campaigns, from creating and scheduling content to understanding how it performed.

“Social Studio is very powerful,” said Eymery. “The beauty industry changes quickly and new trends spring from manufacturers, and even customers themselves. We must stay close to changes and respond quickly, and Salesforce lets us do that by pinpointing what our customers expect and how they think about our brands.”
To a large extent, the company’s current success and future plans ride on a single information reservoir fed by the many streams of information flowing from all points across L’Oréal’s sales and marketing.

14 Apr

ABN SalesForce: CEBU PACIFIC AIR “We want to recover relationships, not just resolve cases. What we’re doing with Salesforce will help us create customers for life.”


“We want to recover relationships, not just resolve cases. What we’re doing with Salesforce will help us create customers for life.”

Cebu Pacific Air takes customer care to new heights

Cebu Pacific Air is the Philippines’ largest airline, carrying over 1.5million passengers each month to over 60 domestic and international destinations, including Australia, Japan and Dubai. The airline pioneered the “low fare, great value” strategy in Asia and continues to innovate with a new customer experience strategy and Command Centre for customer care.

Candice Iyog, VP Marketing and Distribution at Cebu Pacific Air, said the airline’s customer strategy went beyond simply resolving customer complaints. “We want to recover relationships, not just resolve cases,” said Iyog. “What we’re doing with Salesforce will help us create customers for life.”

Command Centre brings improved visibility to customer care

The new Command Centre has put customer care at the heart of Cebu Pacific Air. Situated on the executive level of its corporate headquarters, the glass-enclosed office has made customer care more visible and its operations, more accessible.

Executives can walk in at any time and use touch screens to explore real-time data on support cases and customer sentiment. They can also speak to agents for an extra layer of insight on what customers may be experiencing that day.

These conversations and the visible presence of the customer care team, help ensure customer needs and sentiment are considered in every strategic decision made.

Connecting service with social kick-starts success

The Command Centre is the result of a wider service transformation which has brought all of Cebu Pacific Air’s’ customer care agents together as one team. In the past, two teams handled inbound inquiries and complaints. The first managed traditional channels including feedback via web forms, emails and phone. The second managed social media channels for the airline.

The implementation of Salesforce Service Cloud has connected these teams and empowered them to respond in a more consistent and effective way.

“Many vendors said they could build what we needed, but with Salesforce Service Cloud the capability was already there,” said Iyog. “We were also already using Marketing Cloud to respond to customers on social media so there was a short learning curve.”

These factors combined with the project management provided by Third Pillar Business Applications Inc. enabled a rapid go-live. The customer care team is now using Service Cloud alongside Marketing Cloud’s Social Studio, Social Hub and Command Center to provide smarter support.

Jennifer Ligones, President & CEO of Third Pillar Business Applications, Inc. said, “Cebu Pacific has always been at the forefront of airline innovation to delight their customers. Being the first company in Southeast Asia to use Social Studio integrated with Service Cloud, shows their commitment to elevate their customer relationships.”

Creating a deeper understanding of customer needs

The Salesforce solution has allowed Cebu Pacific Air to consolidate reporting and gain a single customer view. It has also enabled the airline to measure and drive improvements. Already, response time on social media has been reduced from a couple of days to an average of 18 minutes, making response 160x faster.

The airline is now focused on improving the quality of responses and taking its understanding of the customer to the next level. It’s capturing new data points from Net Promotor Score and post-flight surveys, and building on its single view of the customer with every interaction.

It plans to use these data points to address customer complaints as a first priority and then to evolve its products and services. The ongoing transformation will see customer care increasingly entrenched in the airline’s operations.

“We want to create an environment where everyone is proactively collaborating around customers’ needs. Salesforce will help us to achieve that goal,” said Iyog.

14 Apr

ABN Case: Changi Airport Group delivers a first class experience to every passenger

Singapore Changi Airport was crowned the World’s Best Airport at the 2013 Skytrax World Airport Awards. It is also a 2012 winner of the National Infocomm Awards (NIA) for the Most Innovative Use of Infocomm Technology in the private sector. The centrepiece of its success is a self-named solution called OneChangi, which uses technology to transform business practices and orchestrate high standards of service. Salesforce.com plays a key role and gives Changi Airport Group (CAG) – the manager of Changi Airport – the tools to deliver a first class customer experience to every passenger.

Service Dilemma

Think about your last trip through an airport. Customer studies show that people generally don’t focus on elements of acceptable service. But it’s an altogether different story when service slips. That’s when the experience is remembered and feelings about quality and satisfaction are cast. Airports can be chaotic and things don’t always go as planned (even at the world’s best airports). When things go wrong reputations suffer. But what exactly makes up an airport? In the customer’s mind it is a single entity, easily blanketed with accusations of bad service. However, in terms of business operations and logistics, an airport comprises a diverse number of standalone entities that perform specific functions vital to overall operation. CAG, for example, spans 350 retail and service stores and 120 food and beverage outlets located in public and transit areas. These are independent businesses. And then there are 200 other partners and agencies – from cleaners to baggage handlers – that work according to their own operating procedures, workflow and goals. However, truly customer centric organisations, like CAG, have no choice but to think like the customer.

Steve Lee, CAG CIO and senior vice president of technology, said the entire airport community responds to customers as one – or "OneChangi" as he likes to say. "Any problem is not yours or mine, but ours. At CAG, one of our core values is we succeed together with our partners."

Bold Vision

The OneChangi vision required a system to match. The airport got down to work with its product and solution providers and deployed a CRM platform that integrated CAG’s various channels and backend data sources. Today it functions as the main enterprise solution that underpins everything customer related at the airport.

The platform channels and consolidates feedback collected from airport customers via touch-points including websites, emails, the CAG contact centre and instant feedback systems located across CAG airport terminals. Feedback is wide-ranging and spans everything from retail experiences to washroom cleanliness to perceptions of check-in efficiency. The information is shared with airport partners and tenants, allowing them to process and track feedback that relates to their own operations.

CAG tenants use the same system to track their own service quality standards and rectify issues that are flagged by CAG during inspection, such as shop floor cleanliness. Data collected also provides CAG with an overview of service levels and feedback indicators to help ensure airport shops and restaurants meet service level obligations.

Aligning IT with Business Mission

Joe Chiu, CAG vice president of corporate information technology, said the proposed IT solution had to be aligned with the OneChangi mission. "We wanted every single case to be tracked under a common system. The CRM real-time dashboards and reports show supervisors what’s happening as it happens…who did what and whether the case was closed on time. As many CAG staff members are on the move we use iPads, desktops and smartphones to provide uninterrupted system access."

The CRM platform comes with social network tool, Salesforce Chatter. "New customer service operators can ask questions and other operators can share their knowledge and experiences, even though they are located in different terminals," said Chiu

Service Leap

Overall, the OneChangi vision has achieved CAG’s strategic goals. Chiu said overall service was more consistent and the customer-facing business practices of major partners and tenants had leapt ahead. In the process, CAG has recorded efficiency improvements across a number of measures, including operating costs, productivity, and service innovations.

14 Apr

ABN Cloud: Foursquare Case Study

About Foursquare

Foursquare is a technology company that informs business decisions through a deep understanding of location intelligence. The company’s mobile apps, Foursquare and Swarm, are used monthly by more than 50 million people who have left more than 87 million tips and checked in more than 10 billion times. Foursquare’s business solutions include targeted advertising (Pinpoint), media measurement (Attribution), data analytics (Place Insights), and developer tools including the Places database used by 100,000 companies and apps. Foursquare has 200 employees in headquarters in New York and offices in San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Detroit, London, and Shanghai.

The Challenge

Foursquare streams hundreds of millions of application logs each day. The company relies on analytics to report on its daily usage, evaluate new offerings, and perform long-term trend analysis—and with millions of new check-ins each day, the workload is only growing. But the database system Foursquare used for analytics comes with high annual licensing costs, and required the company to spend staff time keeping the system running. “We needed a solution that freed us from licensing fees and let us use our staff time more strategically,” says Jon Hoffman, Software Engineer.

Why Amazon Web Services

Foursquare was already using Amazon Web Services (AWS) for storage and testing, so the company knew the AWS Cloud could help them cut costs. “We found that Amazon Redshift offers the performance we needed while freeing us from the licensing costs of our previous solution,” Hoffman says.

For its analytics, Foursquare is now using Amazon Redshift and a tool called Tableau, which facilitates running queries on its database. “With Amazon Redshift and Tableau, anyone in the company can set up any queries they like—from how users are reacting to a feature, to growth by demographic or geography, to the impact sales efforts have had in different areas. It’s very flexible,” Hoffman says.

The company uses Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) to store images and other data. “We are also using AWS Direct Connect, which has allowed us to keep some pieces of our legacy infrastructure that run best on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) but still have very low latency running on our own data center,” Hoffman says.

The company also runs test clusters using Amazon EC2. Foursquare can match the size and hardware used for their analytics clusters to their changing requirements. Data scientists can spin up ad hoc clusters for urgent analysis, and engineers can run their own dedicated clusters to test new applications. Amazon EC2 instances run CentOS Linux and use NGINX to route requests to internal services. HAProxy is also used to load-balance.

The Benefits

Hoffman estimates that Foursquare is saving tens of thousands of dollars each year in licensing costs alone. The company is also able to deploy its engineering and IT staff on more strategic, revenue-producing projects, instead of configuring servers and running backup and maintenance.

AWS is flexible enough to enable the company to increase the size of the cluster as necessary. “We can add capacity with a few clicks of a button,” Hoffman says. “Using AWS helps us scale up as our data grows, and as the complexity of our queries increases. And we can spin up nodes dynamically whenever we need them, whether we’re launching a new feature or increasing capacity.”

Using Amazon Redshift has enabled the company to perform more agile analytics while saving costs, Hoffman concludes. “Redshift gives us just want we need.”

14 Apr

ABN Cloud: AWS Case Study: Shazam

About Shazam

Shazam connects more than 200 million people, in more than 200 countries and 33 languages, to the music, TV shows and brands they love. Every week another 1.5 million curious people embrace Shazam. All this makes Shazam the world’s leading media discovery company. It’s an amazing app, available now on all major app stores and platforms. And Shazam is always looking for new and innovative ways to delight fans.

The Shazam mobile application helps people identify and connect with the media content around them. When they hear a song or see a TV program or ad they like, they simply activate the app to “tag” it. Once tagged, the relevant information is displayed, such as song and album title or the name of the TV show or product. Additional content is also provided such as video, lyrics, and other information. Fans can choose to share these tags on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter as well as buy music from Amazon MP3 on the Android platform.

Shazam branched out into television content and is one of the leaders in second-screen television, which was heavily utilized in TV advertising campaigns that aired throughout the 2012 Super Bowl.

To date, Shazam’s offerings have attracted more than 200 million fans in over 200 countries worldwide. The company is headquartered in London, with additional offices in the United States and South Korea.

The Challenge

Building for success and expected uplift / spike in demand on the service during their Super Bowl advertising campaign, Shazam looked toward cloud technology as a means to rapidly ratchet up capacity to cope with the world’s biggest televised sporting event.

Jason Titus, Shazam’s CTO, explains, “We considered other cloud providers, benchmarked them, and evaluated how they would build out to handle our capacity requirements. In the end, we chose Amazon Web Services (AWS) because they have the reliability, support infrastructure, and full suite of services that meets our needs.”

Why Amazon Web Services

After selecting AWS, Shazam implemented its new solution in only eight weeks, taking advice from its AWS Enterprise Support team to ensure maximum platform utilization. The company primarily relied on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) Cluster Compute Quadruple Extra Large Instances, which are specifically designed for high performance compute (HPC) applications. Traffic was distributed across these instances with Elastic Load Balancing.

Amazon DynamoDB initially served as a secondary data store for user activity and interaction logs. However, this new NoSQL database service was integrated into the production environment as the primary data store when Shazam realized it could support over 500,000 writes per second. The company is also using Amazon Elastic MapReduce (Amazon EMR) for large-scale data analysis that can require more than 1 million writes per second.

For Shazam, the ability to scale resources to meet dramatic activity spikes is of particular importance. During the recent high-volume Super Bowl event, Shazam processed millions of transactions simply by calling up 200 Amazon EC2 Cluster Compute Instances and then reduced that number as demand waned. Jason Titus notes, “We were able to provision resources from AWS without the time required to provision new hardware or to build a new data center ourselves.” A large contributor to the success of Shazam’s event was the work done beforehand with the help of AWS Enterprise Support. Working hand in hand with a dedicated Technical Account Manager (TAM), the support team provided real-time assistance to Shazam, ensuring that their application would scale to meet the anticipated demand of the event. In addition to the upfront support, the AWS Enterprise Support team also provided 24/7 monitoring and assistance from the US and Europe during the event, and had AWS engineering resources on standby should their assistance be required.

The Benefits

Implementing resources from AWS enabled millions of Shazam fans to tag the entire Super Bowl event, from the game to the half time show to the advertising campaigns featured. “AWS gave us the flexibility to bring a massive amount of capacity online in a short period of time and allowed us to do so in an operationally straightforward way. AWS is now Shazam’s cloud provider of choice,” says Titus.

13 Apr

ABN Tech: Facebook and Telegram both will roll out their cryptocurrencies soon in 2019

13.04.2019 ABN

Social media giant Facebook is said to be seeking to raise as much as a billion dollars in outside funding for its cryptocurrency project – https://www.coindesk.com/facebook-said-to-be-seeking-1-billion-in-funding-for-crypto-project

At the same time, Telegram’s Cryptocurrency Stealthily Entered Private Beta on 11/04/2019 – https://www.ccn.com/telegrams-cryptocurrency-stealthily-entered-private-beta-russian-report

For ABN’s banking customers, cryptocurrency is not the most interesting aspect but rather the application of the distributed smart contracts aspect of that.

Nathaniel Popper, a technology reporter at The New York Times, tweeted Monday that sources have said Facebook is targeting “big sums – as much as $1b” from venture capitalists to support the stablecoin effort. The company would use the funds as collateral to back the token, one person apparently told the journalist.

It must be stressed that, at this stage, the comments have not been confirmed by Facebook or any potential investors.

Facebook has been developing its own stablecoin for money transfers over WhatsApp, as revealed last December. The stablecoin may be pegged to a “basket of foreign currencies held in bank accounts,” Popper’s further tweeted.

Facebook has also been planning to list its stablecoin on cryptocurrency exchanges, telling platforms in February that it expects to get the product out in the first half of 2019.

While Facebook is far from short of cash, involving outside investors in the stablecoin project could help Facebook present the cryptocurrency project as “more decentralized and less controlled” by itself, Popper’s sources suggested. The company had $44 billion in cash and equivalents as of April 2018, according to CNBC.

Earlier this year, Barclays analyst Ross Sandler estimated that Facebook’s cryptocurrency project could yield anywhere from $3 billion to $19 billion in additional revenue by 2021.

The social media behemoth set up its blockchain team in May 2018, aiming to explore the emerging technology. Since then, the company has been looking to expand the team with new hires. It recently had over 20 open positions related to blockchain roles, including a lead commercial counsel.

Earlier this year, Facebook also hired staffers from Chainspace, the startup behind a smart contracts platform.

12 Apr

Apple CRM: Apple launches global CRM shake-up to boost revenues 2017 lesson for 2019

Note: we ABN are delivering this article from 2017. Our banking customers can still learn from it today.

Apple launches global CRM shake-up to boost revenues

MARCH 9, 2017 10:50 AM

apple 2Apple may still be the world’s most valuable technology company, but with competitors breathing down its neck it is understood to be launching a new CRM programme, which will link all existing systems, and give the global giant a much broader and deeper view of its estimated 600 million customers.
The move is understood to be part of plans to increase the amount of revenue the firm can generate from each customer – getting them to sign up for iCloud storage and Apple Music, for example, which come with monthly fees.
Dubbed Apple CRM, the new system is based on SugarCRM and was originally scheduled to launch last autumn, but was delayed by the challenges of integrating all of Apple’s global systems.
Now scheduled to go live globally in April, it will link every part of Apple’s business, including its in-store, Genius bar, and online presences.
Apple CRM strategy was previously handled by Salesforce but more recently its developed its own CRM programme, before opting to create the new platform with SugarCRM.
SugarCRM has been quietly ramping up its presence in recent years; current customers include IBM, Mitsubishi, HTC, Agfa Healthcare, and audio specialist Sennheiser.
According to Apple CEO Tim Cook, there are over 1 billion devices in use. But many users own multiple devices. Analysts from Credit Suisse recently crunched the numbers and worked out the company had 588 million users worldwide.
However, the company has come under increasing pressure after revealing that in 2016 its global revenue fell for the first time since 2003, down to $215.64bn (£176.65bn) from $233.72bn (£192.35bn) the previous year.

12 Apr

ABN Tech: Google launches AI Platform, a collaborative model-making tool for data scientists

Google Cloud Platform is giving AI creators a new, shared, end-to-end environment for teams to test, train, and deploy models called the AI Platform.

Google today also upgraded AutoML, its service for automating the creation of custom AI models, at the Cloud Next conference taking place this week in San Francisco.

AI Platform launches in beta and is designed to be used by developers, data scientists, and data engineers.

“The AI Platform is the place where if you’re taking this terrifying journey from a germ of an idea of how you can use AI in your enterprise all the way through launch of a safe, reliable deployment, the AI Platform helps you move between each of those stages in a safe way,” Google Cloud chief AI scientist Andrew Moore told reporters ahead of the news. “So you can start with exploratory data analysis, start to build models using a data scientist, decide you want to use a specific model, and then essentially with one click be able to deploy it in our Google Cloud or in other clouds, or on-premises running on top of Kubernetes.”

AI Platform will operate in the Cloud Console and is able to handle both streaming and batch data. Google’s data warehouse BigQuery can be used to import data, and AI Platform users can train models using AutoML or Cloud Machine Learning Engine.

The newly created AI Platform can handle custom models and premade models like the kind found in AI Hub’s marketplace for useful and popular AI systems. Kubeflow Pipelines for automated workflows with Kubernetes containers, which made its debut alongside AI Hub last year, can also be used with the AI Platform.

Collaboration like the kind introduced today in AI Platform has also been an area of focus in recent months for DevOps tools such as ClusterOne and Determined AI.

To help people who aren’t data scientists deploy AI, Google also introduced new Video and Table categories for AutoML, its technology for automating the creation of automated systems.

Premade models were also made generally available today, including Contact Center AI, which launched in beta last year, and Retail to supply sales and retail businesses with predictive insights.

BigQueryML, which allows SQL programmers to create AI models, got k-means clustering and matrix factorization models today as well.

“We have people with many different layers of expertise trying to build machine learning systems together, and we’ve made the decision that we have to support the continuum,” Moore said.

A slew of major cloud and AI news has been introduced so far at Cloud Next, including Cloud Run for portable serverless compute, the ability to use your Android phone as a security key, and the introduction of Anthos, a hybrid cloud management service that incorporate Amazon’s AWS and Microsoft’s Azure.

Policy Intelligence was also announced today, an AI-driven recommendations feature that helps system administrators by recommending actions related to cloud governance best practices.

08 Apr

Cloud Infrastructure: AWS: Artfinder Case Study

How Artfinder Powers Art-Matching Services Using AWS

AWS gives us state-of-the-art applications like Amazon Rekognition that make our business possible. I got a prototype of our service up and running within four hours and into production within a week.

David TilleyshortChief Technology Officer

Artfinder can match its customers with art they will love thanks to recommendation tools built on AWS. The company is an online art marketplace, allowing thousands of artists to sell directly to buyers. It runs its website and recommendation tools using Amazon Web Services (AWS) technologies such as Amazon Machine Learning, Amazon Rekognition, and Amazon Kinesis Firehose.

  • About Artfinder

    Artfinder is an online marketplace where artists can sell directly to customers, no matter what their taste.

  • AWS Services Used

  • Benefits of AWS

Smarter ways to match buyers with art they will love

Buying art can be intimidating. Most customers rely on the opinions of a small group of tastemakers and gallery owners who decide what buyers see, what is considered “good art,” and what prices they can charge. Artfinder exists to change that dynamic. It’s an online marketplace, based in the United Kingdom and the United States, that lets artists sell directly to consumers. Artists win because they get a much broader market for their work, and consumers win because they have almost half a million pieces to choose from, at much lower prices than galleries typically charge.

David Tilleyshort is the chief technology officer at Artfinder. For him and his team, the big challenge is making sure buyers see artwork they want to buy. Given the volume of work for sale, this is no mean feat, so Artfinder has had to find smart ways to match buyers with art they will love. Tilleyshort explains the difficulty his team faces: “Like many sites, Artfinder recommends pieces to customers based on what they have bought previously, what they view, and the artists they follow. Unlike many sites, however, most of the pieces we sell are one-offs, so it’s difficult to say, ‘If you like this, you’ll probably like that.’”

The Agility of the Cloud

Artfinder is all-in on AWS, and it has been since the company was founded in 2011. AWS gives Artfinder the flexibility to start new projects like its latest recommendation engine—which uses image-analysis technology to scan every image in its library and compare it visually to every other piece of artwork, accounting for things like color palette matching, texture, brush strokes, contrasts, and object analysis.

“We were doing this on the fly,” explains Tilleyshort, “but we found that wasn’t performant enough as our traffic grew, so we decided to run the entire analysis offline. We predicted it would take two weeks with our current infrastructure. Instead, we launched a cluster of Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud(Amazon EC2) servers and crunched through it in a day or two.

That wouldn’t be possible without AWS.” This comparison engine also powers @ArtfinderEmma, a Twitter bot who recommends artwork to anyone who tweets her a picture.

Art-ificial Intelligence

Artfinder asks its artists to supply information about each work to help people find it, “but that information isn’t always the best description of the piece,” says Tilleyshort. “We’ve been experimenting with Amazon Rekognition to analyze images to see if there’s anything else we can find out. For example, if there’s a dog in the picture, we can make sure it comes up when people are looking for dogs, even if the artist hasn’t specified that information.” Artfinder also uses Amazon Machine Learning to refine its algorithms about what behavioral criteria carry the most weighting when recommending pieces.

Tilleyshort says AWS has been instrumental in getting features such as this into production: “AWS gives us state-of-the-art applications like Amazon Rekognition that make our business possible.

I got a prototype of our service up and running within four hours and into production within a week. Without AWS, we’d have to invest in hardware and software, and most importantly, the expertise to get services like this off the ground.”

Artfinder uses Amazon Kinesis Firehose as part of another recommendation tool. The tool tracks user behavior on the site to see what products they view, what artists they follow, what they buy, what they like, and what they search for. “We were trying to collect all this information within our normal transactional database, but processing it wasn’t feasible in our normal application,” says Tilleyshort.

“So now we feed all that into our pipeline and then into our Amazon Redshift data warehouse, where we can do more offline analysis with it.”

This tech-savvy approach to the art market is proving popular. Artfinder’s revenue increased by 75 percent in the U.K. in 2016 (190 percent in the U.S. in 2016), and 60 percent of traffic now comes from outside its home market of the U.K. Artfinder uses Amazon CloudFront to deliver bandwidth-heavy images from locations near its users. “Rolling out our service in the U.S. didn’t present us with any real technical challenges,” says Tilleyshort. “Tools like Amazon CloudFront let us keep a good user experience, which wouldn’t be possible in a non-cloud world.”

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