Why ESL Education took to the cloud for its data analytics needs

We recently had the chance to speak with Clément Duay, Assistant Product Director and Business Analyst for ESL Education S.A., a leading international education provider based in Montreux, Switzerland.


ESL Education in brief

Since 1996,  ESL Education has offered study programmes in over 40 countries to help student-travellers get the most out of their journeys abroad through a variety of services—from language courses to higher education programs. With close to 50 offices worldwide and 250 agents, the ESL Education team works to tailor the perfect program to its students and serves as the liason between the partner schools and clients.  


The Challenge: The limits of a ‘homemade’ system

When Clément Duay first arrived at ESL Education, his main focus was to get a handle on  the organization’s IT structure, and find and implement a business intelligence platform for the internal business analyst clients. Clément needed a solution that integrated with the tools various teams had built in-house and its heavy Mac environment

Enter BIME in October 2014. Clément choose BIME to help connect the company’s various data sources such as its CRM, accounting system, CSM, and other tools that were developed in-house. Due to its modern architecture, BIME allowed Clément to avoid the connectivity problems often faced with traditional on-premise solutions and bypass the need to construct a data warehouse.

From a user perspective, the need to mix data from different sources on the fly was critical for people to get answers to their questions as quickly as possible. 

We chose BIME because it gave us the freedom to mix data from multiple sources, the ease of use of a great user experience, and the ability to visualize complex data sets without needing advanced data or technical skills.
— Clément Duay - ESL Education


The Solution : IT and Management on the same page

While some of the aspects of traditional on-premise business intelligent solutions sounded attractive, both the IT and Management teams opted for BIME because of its modern architecture and SaaS approach. BIME was the perfect blend of the right technology and the ease of use needed for the business user to tap into their business’ data.


The Results : Analytic capabilities that prove themselves

“The analytical tools that had been developed internally were static,” Clément said. “For example, to add an extra column for a percentage increase to an existing reporting table required a request for internal development. In addition, navigation was complex or required exporting the data into Excel to get the job done. And without the ability to perform advanced analysis, business users felt discouraged and were detered from using our analytical tools.”

Today, the analysis undertaken by the team includes CRM reporting, customer profiling, and financial reporting of their courses. With the BIME Scheduler, underlying databases generate CSV files that are updated daily, so teams can access and consume this data easily and more regularly. The Finance department are getting more results thanks to pre-aggregation and BIME’s ability to extract data. And for the Marketing team, the community manager is analyzing user engagement on social networks by connecting BIME to Twitter and Facebook and measuring advertising campaign effectiveness by connecting all their Adwords accounts.

Slowly but surely, the use of BIME has spread from one department to another. More and more teams are becoming consumers and analysts of data. “When more teams started using BIME, they quickly saw its potential and how they could tap into data for their job,” Clément said. “We got more and more requests around analytics needs. We don’t complain, because we see that as a good thing!”, adds Clément.

hat’s been especially impactful is the depth of analysis users can now perform. “Previously, we stopped the analysis after the query,” Clément said. “Now, we can dive deeper in our analysis by drilling down into the details. We can move beyond just an overview and get into the nuts and bolts of each data set. The ability to do such analysis is very motivating.”

ESL Education has experienced very significant growth over the few years, so having a clear grasp and visibility into business operations by the numbers has become increasingly important. “After expanding to 45 offices in 15 countries, time invested in operational matters during that period of growth is progressively being allocated to analysis now the company is solidly structured”, Clément said. The focus has shifted to more sophisticated and sector-specific analysis, like which cities are most popular with French or Swiss clients or what are the trends office by office—insights that enable the ESL Education team to be able to better serve local markets.


The Cloud : Why?

A no-commitment trial period with access to 100% of BIME’s functionality allowed for a straightforward proof of concept. Without the installation time normally needed by more traditional business intelligence solutions, it took only a few hours, rather than months, for Clément to perform his first analyses.

The cloud pricing model, payment flexibility, and online support were also decisive factors, as we didn’t quite know what we were getting into.
Today, cloud offerings like Dropbox and Google Docs, are playing an increasingly important role in the business IT portfolio. We chose to take the cloud direction at ESL Education
— Clément Duay - ESL Education

Bonus: Favorite features

“Among our favorite features, I like the variety of data sources to which we can connect and that new ones are added regularly,” Clément said. “The variety of graphics is also a plus point, particularly the maps one as it is a really visual and effective representation to understand our performance in the field”.

Clément also appreciates the simplified administrator rights. Even with 15 country managers, BIME allows for a single data presentation while allowing access to more granularity based on the managers’ levels and location. “I save time when publishing information,” Clément said. “Something that took 15-25 minutes previously now takes 20-30 seconds using BIME.”


Next Steps !

“This first year of use was a proof period for us,” Clément said “We had to demonstrate the necessity of having BIME in the company. This allowed us to assess scalability with each update and the practical returns. 2016 will be the year where we undertake the biggest deployment to our teams, making them more autonomous in their data analysis,” Clément concludes.

Thank you to Clément Duay and to the ESL Education teams for this testimonial. 

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