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Disguise uses data management firm Boomi to gain visibility of estate

Integration has given entertainment company Disguise visibility of its entire digital estate while also connecting its various pools of siloed data

Entertainment industry software and hardware provider Disguise has been working with data management firm Boomi to connect the various data silos across its digital estate in an effort to bring consistency to the growing organisation.

Established in 2012, London-based Disguise specialises in building the software and hardware that powers live music shows for acts such as U2 and Katy Perry, but its technology is also used in the film industry as well as for special events such as the Queen’s Jubilee.

It currently has 131 staff globally, with plans to increase this number by 30% over the course of 2020. The company has rapidly experienced a massive expansion as it only had 27 employees just two years ago.

With the volume of data increasing alongside its operations, the company brought in Ivan Roche, who is now head of global business intelligence and technology at Disguise.

“I was brought in two years ago to look at the data and see how we could maximise, improve, and make it more consistent,” he told Computer Weekly, adding that the company not only needed to manage a large cloud portfolio, but the physical infrastructure in its London headquarters too.

This included using Salesforce in its sales and marketing systems, NetSuite for its financial systems, and Jira for its developers.

“We were amassing a lot of data and travelling fast, but if you don’t travel fast in a certain direction you’re not necessarily going to get anywhere, so part of what I needed to do was to bring together the data we have across that estate,” said Roche.

At the start of 2019, Roche undertook a six-week procurement process to find a way of properly managing all the data. According to him, Disguise needed master data management, the ability to write and implement processes quickly with minimal code, and guarantees that the new processes would not break its systems in an update.

“At the time, Boomi was the only organisation that would offer that, so it would test all of the processes at a level to ensure they wouldn’t break before doing an upgrade to the system, and I would say we started reaping benefits within about two months,” he said.

Using a mixture of out-of-the-box connectors and bespoke application programming interfaces (APIs) created by Boomi, Disguise was able to integrate with Salesforce, NetSuite and Jira, as well as the manufacturers of its hardware, so that all of the data could be managed at a “master” level.

Roche added that because of the visibility and consistency of data this gave Disguise, the company was also able to begin optimising its processes, as well as consider expanding its systems further.

“While the architecture means we are currently improving what we’ve already got, the connectors we currently have in place mean we can also get bigger,” said Roche.

“Maybe there are certain systems we’re currently using that aren’t keeping pace with us, but as long as we’ve got that data structure in the data warehouse and we have the rules around it with Boomi, it means we can take one of the systems we currently have, unplug it, put in a new system, and get that up and running as if it was there from day one.”

Business harmonisation

Bringing consistency to the data, Disguise also found additional benefits in the harmony it brought its business units and staff, who discovered that data consistency provided a “common language” that helped to expedite conversations.

“When we have a conversation as human beings between sales and finance, for example, when we use terms such as ‘shipped date’, everyone understands what it means, there is no interpretation based on your biases as a sales person or finance person, so decisions get made at an accelerated pace meaning we can move forward with greater velocity,” said Roche.

According to Mike Kiersey, principle technologist at Boomi, introducing common data standards and language can really help organisations to “harmonise the interactivity between the different business units [because] we all understand what it relates to what it actually means”.

He added that for any company wanting to leverage its data, the first step should be to clean the data so that a consistent view can be taken of where it is and how it is used in applications.

“Once you have that for each of the different lines of business, you can make the right business decisions based on the data,” he said.

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