Wolters Kluwer Transport Services: customer-facing analytics with BigQuery on Google Cloud Platform

Offering a range of six innovative SaaS solutions, Wolters Kluwer Transport Services has established itself as one of the leading experts in transportation management software solutions and services. With a strong European focus, the company covers services from platforms for shippers for freight exchange and transport management, bringing carriers and their partners together to find new efficiencies in transportation management. Its market-leading Transwide transportation management system, or TMS, enables amongst others carrier companies to track and optimise freight movements by calculating performance according to a range of KPIs. Wolters Kluwer Transport Services looked to future-proof Transwide with fast, customer-facing analytics with Google BigQuery and real-time data processing on Google Cloud Platform.

“Our old data warehouse model was too slow handling queries to make our planned upgrade possible and our infrastructure team were already loaded with other projects. We made a cost comparison with other external hosting solutions and found Google Cloud Platform the best fit to purpose. Time to market was the key factor and Google had an integrated set of services ready that our Data team could implement with a minimum of extra work." - Ivo Jansen, IT Director, Wolters Kluwer Transport Services

Faster queries without remodelling

New customer expectations created by big data and cloud processing are stimulating competition between information management services in almost every industry. The transport sector is no exception, as companies search for new ways to improve efficiency in deliveries and freight.

Wolters Kluwer Transport Services looked to expand its Transwide TMS into a scalable, future-proof, customer-facing offering incorporating near real-time analytics. Transwide calculates KPIs for customers based on a year of order data, but a slow data warehouse model meant some queries took over a minute to process, making real-time analytics impossible. With initial cost estimates of over €250,000 for data remodelling alone, the company decided to take a fresh approach.

By creating a new data platform on Google Cloud Platform, Wolters Kluwer Transport Services connected the analytic power of BigQuery with data visualisation through Tableau on Google Compute Engine.

As a NoOps solution with a simple setup process, BigQuery reduced pressure on the company’s five-person tech team and allowed them to stay agile during the rollout. Including integration with the company’s single sign-on, implementation was completed in less than six months thanks to expert help from Google partner Datatonic and support from the nearshore partner EPAM. Soon multiple automation tasks on Google Compute Engine VMs were consolidated with Kubernetes. Now Wolters Kluwer Transport Services is free to develop real-time services with Google Cloud Pub/Sub.

"BigQuery was the decisive factor when we made our choice. It’s a unique service among cloud providers. Look into big data systems such as Hadoop or Spark Stack and there's a lot of complexity. BigQuery has all of that complexity while offering a familiar SQL interface. Most people in our team have a BI background and are familiar and skilled with SQL. BigQuery offers big data processing capabilities through a clean programmable api. On top of that, it had a very good connector with Tableau." - Aart Verbeke, Lead Architect, Data Analytics, Wolters Kluwer Transport Services

Developing new solutions through the GCP environment

Now one year of detailed data is visualised on Transwide in less than ten seconds instead of one minute. Minimal maintenance means the Wolters Kluwer Transport Services tech team is free to work on software development and data capabilities rather than ops, honing real-time analytics on Google Cloud Pub/Sub and exploring additional services such as Stackdriver. Soon the team plans to implement Google Cloud Platform solutions for its other five services, while expanding the revamped Transwide across its customer base.

"Google Cloud Platform offers a very rich set of capabilities and we pay for them on a demand basis. That was a real eye opener for us. In a conventional environment we would need to install, set up, deploy and host every individual building block. Here we simply connect to a surface and use it as required." - Aart Verbeke, Lead Architect, Data Analytics, Wolters Kluwer Transport Services