Data Talk: The Story of APD, Our Customer and Partner

Pavel Bulowski from Keboola APAC chatted with Tom Edmonds from Asia Pacific Digital (APD) ( in Sydney last month about how APD uses data to provide more efficient information and knowledge to their clients.

PB: Tom, please introduce your company and your team’s mission.

APD is a full service digital marketing business. Our services range from website building and design on one side to consumer acquisition and then retention on the other. My personal mission here is to launch several different data-driven products which should ultimately create new revenue streams across the group.

PB: How was it, getting started from scratch?

We started by selecting the right tool set and after thorough due diligence on several fronts we ended up going with the full stack of GoodData which, at the time, seemed the best fit for our needs and ticked the boxes of scalability and cost efficiency. Because we play mainly in the digital space, obviously we were looking for a cloud solution as well, which narrowed down the selection.

PB: How did the first project implementation go?

Well, it was challenging. We quickly figured out that while GoodData is a great tool for visualisation, the challenging part was the data mashing and integration of new data sources, especially the online ones. The biggest obstacle was the initial time spent on the project implementation, with the first project taking over 500 hours before we had a functional beta ready.

PB: Is this the time Keboola Connection came into the picture?
Yes we were far behind the original project launch plans and we also had our lead architect leave, which added a further challenge to the mix.

Quite frankly, we were skeptical that we could make this work at that point, but we had to try an alternative solution as so much time and money had already been invested. Ultimately we landed with a combination of GoodData for visualisation and Keboola Connection for data management and integration, and this has turned out to be a winning combination.

PB: So how did Keboola fit into the existing solution?

We immediately  saw how much easier it would be to integrate data sources into KBC and so decided to re-do the first project again using KBC as the staging layer for our data sources.

PB: What was the first project about?

It was a project for Cellar Masters Wine, a regional client of ours based in Hong Kong. They had several data sources like Magento, Adwords, Google Analytics, Getstat as well as an email platform. The goal was to connect all of them into one connected intelligence dashboard.

PB: So where would you see the benefits?

It was obviously the speed of the implementation, as we went from 500 hours and not being finished, to under 100. So the value delivery to future clients was going to be much faster. Other than that, we have found that it is now easier to build on to existing projects and to connect and integrate new data sources into the existing data models.

PB: You mentioned data architect leaving your team, did you have to replace him?
No we replaced this role by SQL-savvy analysts, effectively downgrading the skill set required to build projects like we do.

PB: How come?

What we realised was that while our previous architect had extensive experience in the field and a very wide range skill set, to set projects up in the Keboola Connection environment required significantly less experience. It is, in essence, operated by an intuitive user interface and the transformations are done in SQL, which is a very common language.

PB: From when you started working with Keboola, where are you now?

We have quickly come a long way and from one implemented project for a client, we have also implemented internal reporting to use across 30 clients in one of our divisions ourselves. The plan is to roll this out to the whole client base, which is something over 150+ and regionally even more.

PB: When will this be rolled out?

We aim to do this in the next 2-3 months, which is something that would not be possible without Keboola Connection in the previous setup.

PB: Why?

The way the Keboola platform works is that it allows us to add new client’s data sets into previously established data models, immediately providing their specific reports. All this is done in a matter of hours and not days, unlike before when it would have been done in GoodData’s data integrating infrastructure.

PB: What was the goal of the internal client reporting project you mentioned?

There were two parts of this, actually. At first, we were looking at improving productivity internally. With this solution we can completely remove the ‘data hunting and gathering’ part of the team’s job by introducing automation into client facing reports, so our analysts and account managers can focus on the interpretation and value-added insights.

PB: And the other one?

Of course these reports are replacing the standard reporting we always did, but it’s only a matter of time and good account management until we have clients coming back to us asking to integrate into these reports their other sales data, social or CRM data, etc., etc. This would be considered a premium service and is therefore a brand new revenue stream for us.
The beauty of this platform Keboola has, is that it allows us to do this fast, effectively and at scale.

PB: So overall happy days?

Yes, thanks to massive improvements on the implementation times, we are effectively back on track in terms of scaling our operations and we are really happy with the way this partnership is going. Overall, we see Keboola as an integral part of  the success of this project in the next few years due to both their product and team’s approach.

Thank you for the interview, Tom and good luck with your new projects!


About Tom Edmonds

Tom decided to bring more detailed and faster data to its employees, elevating its practise of data-driven operational management. While migrating their reporting and project management systems, the agency needed to hold on to its old know-how, as well as the data itself being exported from their older systems. In the world of agency business, the level of speed and amount of detail available to employees is a crucial determining factor between profit and loss. Keeping this in mind, all employees constantly require information about things like KPIs, consultants, billed time, budgets, etc. While the new CRM implementation was taking longer than expected, management had only partial information about their business.