Businesses generate a treasure trove of data, and buried in that data is information that can be used to improve performance, boost efficiency, and deliver better customer experiences. But extracting value from those vast troves of data means first mastering the tools that can make sense of it. This requires businesses to have the right skills and technologies in place.
According to the Demystifying Data 2021 report, commissioned by, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and prepared by Deloitte Access Economics, 62% of organisations in Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) reported having a basic or beginner level of data maturity, and only one-third of businesses expect to move up the ladder in the next five years. However, the data opportunity for organisations in ANZ is significant. Using data and analytics, businesses can improve productivity, enhance customer experiences, and increase sales.
To bridge the data maturity gap and help local customers accelerate their data journey AWS now offers AWS Data Lab in Australia and New Zealand.
AWS Data Lab is a program that brings businesses and AWS data experts together to solve complex data challenges in tangible ways, using AWS services. Currently, AWS Data Lab is hosted online and offers customers two engagements—Build Lab and Design Lab. The Build Lab is a two-to five-day intensive build exercise with a technical customer team. The Design Lab is a half-day to two-day engagement for customers who need a real-world architecture recommendation based on AWS’s expertise, but they are not yet ready to build.
AWS Data Lab is supported by a team of local data engineers with deep technical skills and experience in analytics, databases, and machine learning (ML) platforms. According to Vicky Falconer, AWS Data Lab Manager in Australia, the idea is to create a team that focuses entirely on helping customers to build real solutions to address real needs by thinking big, starting small, and scaling fast.
“Customers want to know how to effectively use data analytics, but they often struggle with how to get started,” said Falconer. “We always start with a business problem, and then we work backwards from there. We take a big problem, and we scope it to something we can address in a few days. This is an effective way to validate whether a great idea will solve a problem.”
Customers say the AWS Data Lab helps them accelerate their architectural and operational decisions, remain hyper-focused on a single project over a series of days, and learn new skills firsthand from AWS experts. The outcome of an AWS Data Lab session is a working prototype, which can then be further developed and scaled by the customer to implement it in their business.
“Customers learn best by building and getting hands-on experience,” said Falconer. “We are there to guide them, but our intent is to take customers on a journey. We want them to walk out of the lab with a solution and the skills to take it to the next level.”
Data-driven energy transformation
One customer who participated in an AWS Data Lab pilot is the ANZ-based company Intellihub, a smart meter and data intelligence business that provides data services to retailers and network operators across the electricity, gas, and water sectors. According to Intellihub’s Chief Information Officer, Vivek Beri, the company turned to AWS Data Lab to find ways to collect, process, and analyse massive volumes of data it collects from smart meters.
Beri said the volume of data that Intellihub processes has grown dramatically in recent years—driven by Intellihub’s increasing market share and changes to the way energy data is settled in the market.
In 2021, The Australian Energy Market Operator introduced the Five-Minute Settlement rule, an industry transformation designed to align price signals with real-time usage. This rule is expected to lead to more efficient bidding, operational decisions, and industry investment. It also resulted in nearly a sixfold increase in the volume of metering data collected.
“The collection, crunching, and delivery of data needs to happen within certain timeframes every day,” said Beri. “Strict rules set by the regulator, and market expectations and SLAs must be met, and even small delays can have a big impact,” said Beri.
Intellihub’s initial project with AWS Data Lab investigated how it could build a secure, cost-effective, and scalable solution to deal with these growing data requirements and compliance, without requiring the company to continually invest in more infrastructure. The result is a cloud-based data processing platform hosted on AWS called Oncor.
Oncor is a platform that securely manages millions of sets of data flowing each day across the energy market. It collects and processes data such as energy usage from meter data management systems, and securely transports it so it can be settled in the market. Intellihub has since conducted three additional AWS Data Lab sessions to continue enhancing and refining the platform.
“AWS Data Lab sessions typically run for two-to-five days, and the teams are very involved on both sides,” said Beri. “We end up with something that is functioning—it might be only a small prototype, but it is a working thing. And then it’s a matter of scaling it as our data needs grow.”
Beri said that the Oncor platform demonstrates Intellihub’s ability to scale to match its increasing market share and provide a secure and reliable smart metering and data service to its customers.
Personalising the entertainment experience
Another AWS Data Lab participant is Australian-born TEG, a global leader in live entertainment, ticketing, and technology. The company brings thousands of live events to fans, sells more than 30 million tickets at some of the world’s most iconic venues, and connects hundreds of entertainment and brand partners to new audiences each year. TEG operates in 40 countries, having recently expanded beyond ANZ to Southeast Asia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
According to Tane Oakes, Enterprise Architect at TEG, adopting a data-driven approach to decision making has been a major factor in the company’s growth. In 2021, TEG launched Ovation, which combines TEG’s vast research, analytics, marketing, and digital capabilities, to create a unique business that can harness and activate the full potential of its vast data assets to drive results – not only for TEG’s business units including Ticketek, but its partners which include major sporting organisations, promoters, venues, and more.
Previously, TEG collected and shared data after an event. By using analytics technology like Amazon Kinesis, TEG now collects, processes, and analyses data in real-time. This means they can derive insights in seconds and provide partners with insights to better engage with customers both before an event—with ticket purchases occurring up to eight months prior to the event—and after. For example, real-time data on ticket purchases can be used to provide customers with information about other similar events.
“Leveraging TEG Ovation, we are constantly adapting to consumer behavior as their needs and preferences change,” said Oaks. “We can reach out to customers with relevant offers and event information a number of times before and after an event, to ensure they have an optimal in-venue experience.”
In order for TEG to continue to lead the industry in data, analytics and marketing, the company developed a five-year technology roadmap. Now in the first year of the roadmap, TEG is removing individual silos of data to create a more coordinated approach to improve the company’s customer engagement strategy. This involves investing in marketing automation tools to personalise customer engagement.
TEG recently participated in an AWS Data Lab session to build a data platform and event recommendation engine using technology like Amazon Personalize, which uses the same ML technology used by Amazon.com for real-time personalised recommendations. TEG’s data science, engineering, and marketing teams worked alongside AWS to design, build, and launch the solution in less than four weeks. The platform serves personalised event recommendations to Ticketek’s 16 million customer base, and analyses 32 million data points across thousands of events in a matter of hours.
The engine is now providing personalised recommendations for every customer in Ticketek’s weekly newsletter. According to Chris Johnston, General Manager Marketing and Customer Engagement for TEG Ovation, Ticketek has seen an immediate uplift in traffic and conversions from the newsletter as a result of the new recommendation engine, which will continue to rise as the engine evolves and learns in the coming months.
“Whilst our industry felt the impact of COVID more than most, we used the time to focus on accelerating our ongoing capabilities in relation to data, analytics, and marketing personalisation. The AWS Data Lab was the perfect catalyst to help further accelerate our ambitions, with the lab generating a working recommendation engine in days rather than months. It was immediately deployed and has us perfectly positioned to drive business growth as our industry emerges from lockdown,” said Johnston.
AWS Data Lab has helped hundreds of customers globally, including Nasdaq and Dow Jones, to create innovative technologies from healthcare and education industries, to media and entertainment customers, and non-profit organisations.
The new AWS Data Lab for ANZ will join a network of labs across the world including Seattle, New York, Herndon, London, Bangalore, São Paolo.
Falconer said the engagements with Intellihub and TEG are great examples of the results that can be achieved in the AWS Data Lab in a short amount of time.
“Every customer is different, so this isn’t a cookie-cutter approach where we have one solution that we use over and over again,” said Falconer. “Diving deep into customers’ problems makes the program unique.”