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iFIT modernizes its data stack to scale and manage hypergrowth

About iFIT

iFIT is an interactive fitness platform that connects its members to fitness trainers through livestreaming and on-demand workouts on digital interfaces.

Industries: Wellness, Technology
Location: United States
Products: Looker

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iFIT and Looker team up to move forward in a unified direction, modernizing analytics that scales with the company.

Results

  • Established a single source of truth with clean, consistent, and trusted data
  • Securely shared data internally and externally with partner organizations, providing clear data lineage and transparency
  • Leveraged product insights to help engineering team prioritize efforts to make the biggest impact on product development
  • Increased customer engagement and reduced churn based on analysis of workouts, membership, renewals, and retention

iFIT is an interactive fitness platform that connects its members to fitness trainers through livestreaming and on-demand workouts on digital interfaces. Members can log in to iFIT from any supported machine, at home or at the gym—such as a treadmill, elliptical, rower, cable equipment machine, or fitness mirror—and access their iFIT account. The platform inspires members to maximize their workout intensity and enjoyment by offering a variety of beautiful and unique immersive video experiences from around the world. Aside from their digital platform, iFIT is a worldwide product used by millions across many brands, including NordicTrack, Proform, Freemotion, and many others.

“One thing that's really exciting about data is the engagement. We have a great opportunity to not only help people’s physical health but also their mental health. And the different ways we can interact with them through that data to drive engagement, to motivate them more, to get them to that next progressive milestone are really interesting. Gathering that data and being able to act on that data has such a direct impact.”

Chase Brammer, CTO, iFIT

With the growing trend of at-home workouts, the iFIT fitness platform experienced triple-digit, “hockey-stick” growth—even before the global COVID-19 pandemic. However, this growth also meant their data was becoming increasingly diverse and complex as they scaled their offering globally.

iFIT has a passion for data and understands the value it brings to their customers. Leveraging that data to drive actions and insights back to the customer experience is one of the key factors driving the company’s expanding user base and phenomenal growth.

Chase Brammer, CTO of iFIT, points out the benefits of this approach: “One thing that's really exciting about data is the engagement. We have a really great opportunity to not only help people's physical health but also their mental health. And the different ways we can interact with them through that data to drive engagement, to motivate them more, to get them to that next progressive milestone are really, really interesting. Gathering that data and being able to act on that data has such a direct impact on our customers.”

Recognizing the value of data and the opportunities it can unlock led iFIT to seek a modern data technology solution that would integrate all their data into a platform that was adaptable, well structured, and process driven.

Data challenges abound

To support their explosive growth and help iFIT continue to innovate at scale, Brammer was on a mission to modernize their data stack. The company wanted to take advantage of the boom in virtual fitness and saw an opportunity to leverage data to engage with customers at a deeper level. Investors were also interested in the company’s growing user base, and iFIT needed a way to quickly and accurately answer their questions.

iFIT had data in multiple silos spread across the organization—making it difficult to get a complete, timely, and accurate picture of the business. Their data engineers and analysts had “the Swiss Army knife” of SQL query snippets and scripts that they would run to analyze data. However, this often resulted in conflicting results and people weren’t always confident taking action based on these insights.

Another challenge was aligning on key metrics definition. For example, “Workout Completed” meant different things to different people and resulted in three or four different definitions. Because of these conflicting definitions, reports weren’t always pulling the same fields to analyze the same metrics—leading to inconsistent analysis. Besides, individually managing SQL snippets and questioning metric definitions, analysts had to spend valuable time manually compiling data from multiple systems—such as MongoDB, AWS Redshift, Zendesk, Google Ads, Facebook, and Salesforce.

“We chose Looker because Looker and Snowflake complement each other really well. Being able to access data from Snowflake and get live insights has been really valuable. Before, we had a lot of trouble with people being in data silos and getting stale data because their version of their BI tool had a different data silo or different data mart than another. Now we can run all that live against Snowflake with Looker.”

Chase Brammer, CTO, iFIT

Rolling out the new solution

iFIT knew they needed to figure out their data strategy so they could move forward in a unified direction on a modern analytics platform that would scale with the company.

To kick off the project, Brammer brought in experts from Analytics8, a Looker systems integration partner, to augment their current internal team and to help design and implement their new data strategy. Key criteria for designing their new analytics platform included ease of maintenance and the flexibility to support future needs as their business and technology stack would inevitably evolve. Analytics8 led Brammer and team through a data and analytics assessment, which consisted of a six-week deep dive into their current processes, through all layers of the organization and a high-level review of their existing technology stack. They conducted interviews with business users to identify key metrics and profiled multiple source systems to outline the best system of record to support their analysis. They identified process bottlenecks and explored how to build upon and improve existing processes and workflows.

Since iFIT’s data volume and variety was so great, one of the first priorities was to determine which metrics and analysis mattered most to the business—helping them focus on what would have the biggest impact. Once they identified top priorities, they focused the teams around key metrics and designed a solution that would allow for unified analysis and simple addition of new data sources. Analytics8 developed a road map that detailed how they would integrate data from multiple systems into a cloud-based data repository. With the road map completed, the team was able to move very quickly to implementation and execution.

Within two weeks, Analytics8 and iFIT built a low-overhead, easy to-manage, and scalable cloud data warehouse in Snowflake, combining multiple data sources. They leveraged Fivetran to provide fully managed data pipelines for ELT for migrating historical and current data.

iFIT also used dbt, a SQL-based development environment, that integrates with Snowflake, to transition from an extract, transform, and load (ETL) process to an extract, load, and transform (ELT) process—transforming their operational data for use in the analytics model. dbt clearly defines the data, moves it through the different layers of sanitization, documents it, and pipelines it to the data warehouse. This enabled the team to centralize all their scripts, tools, and queries into a code-driven, commit-driven process with code reviews.

“By having everything stored in a central location, dbt helps transform the data and add the business logic of connecting disparate data sources together to create a more meaningful dataset,” says Brammer.

With the silos dismantled and replaced by centralized data repository, Looker, Google Cloud’s modern business intelligence and data application platform, was deployed to provide the semantics layer on top of the stack—ensuring consistent data definitions for key performance indicators (KPIs), self-service analysis, and a unified view of the business.

“Building strong confidence in the data was key to the success of our organizational buy-in. Otherwise they don’t trust and take action on the data. Having great data structure and up-front processes reduced tension between our business and data teams. Here’s the data. Here’s the flow of it. It doesn’t need to be this mystery sandbox.”

Chase Brammer, CTO, iFIT

Centralized data with trustworthy lineage and full documentation

With Snowflake, Looker, and dbt, iFIT can store and centralize their data in a way that allows them to pivot quickly. They have instant access to real-time insights as well as data sharing capabilities—all at the scale they need to continue growing. Their new stack allows them to ingest data rapidly—from everywhere—and curate valuable insights to drive strategy and continued customer engagement.

A significant result of the project that Brammer says cannot be overstated is that they now have data lineage—they know how their data is flowing through the system. The documentation and data lineage is automatically generated and updated with every run. They can bring in new analysts and engineers and easily point them to the documentation. Brammer can now say to new hires, “We have field-level documentation. These are how these different tables relate to each other and where they’re coming from.”

Another benefit of the documentation is that it makes troubleshooting so much easier because they know exactly how the data is flowing. They have transparency in the data down to the table and column level, with tests, freshness alerts, documentation, and lineage. All this drives confidence in the data downstream—across the entire organization, from analysts to business consumer users.

Everyone benefits from the data technology transformation

Brammer points out many other benefits the team at iFIT has realized. Looker enables people to drill down into the data in a meaningful way to curate actionable insights. It provides users with a secure and trusted way to share data within the organization as well as with external partners.

The new technology stack has helped internal users identify areas where they can improve engagement with customers, such as being able to quickly identify customers that may be at risk to churn. They can also better segment their audiences, so they can tailor their product to customer needs and preferences, increasing the “stickiness” of their offering. Looker drives all their primary consumer KPIs (paid users, net churn, and new users) and helps them provide trusted, data-driven answers to investors.

Reporting turnaround time has gone from “literally months to minutes,” enabling the team to spend time on high-value, strategic projects. For example, they are now moving beyond focusing only on consumer data into piping their enterprise data into artificial intelligence tools.

This has also positively impacted product development. iFIT’s feature engineering team now uses data as a key design consideration as they build advanced capabilities into existing products and develop new products.

Data fitness prepares iFIT to jump higher and run faster toward its goals

By implementing Looker, iFIT has a greater understanding of the health of its subscription membership segments. They understand their overall user base and subscription types better (such as individual, family, monthly, and yearly) and know which segments are growing or shrinking. This information enables them to better structure their product offerings and their positioning. It is also critical when recruiting new investors.

iFIT has also gained greater insight into which factors increase the risk of customer churn and how to prevent it. For example, the team discovered that if a user worked out only once in the last three months, they were 50% more likely to churn. Thus, the company can offer an incentive or initiate a campaign to get the user re-engaged before the three-month threshold mark.

Looker has also enabled the team to track customers through the lifetime of their membership so as to better understand their workout patterns and profiles. They can understand which classes customers take most often, the instructors they prefer, and their preferred workout times. This information is invaluable for marketing and expanding their portfolio of offerings.

Armed with a comprehensive view of their customers and pertinent data for investors that is sourced from a centralized, governed, and trusted source of truth, iFIT is poised to take full advantage of the growing virtual fitness market.

Tell us your challenge. We're here to help.

Contact us

About iFIT

iFIT is an interactive fitness platform that connects its members to fitness trainers through livestreaming and on-demand workouts on digital interfaces.

Industries: Wellness, Technology
Location: United States