26 July 2023
We’d like to introduce you to our customer, Flint Group, one of the leading suppliers to the Packaging and Printing industries. With nearly 5,300 employees operating from 130 centres in North, Central and South America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, India, and the Pacific Rim, they’ve got a lot of moving parts and a lot of data.
Flint Group has recently moved over to Qlik Cloud. Paul Tolsma, Flint Group’s Global Business Intelligence Architect, generously shared their success story so you can learn from their experience.
This case study is also explored in our eBook, Un/Solved: Making Sense of your Cloud Migration Strategy. Check it out now for actionable insights and best practices for designing your migration roadmap that help you unlock the power of the Cloud.
Flint Group’s data journey with Qlik began five years ago. They had two on-premise servers; one for Production, and one for Development.
So, why did they decide to begin their Cloud journey this year?
When using the on-premise servers, they needed to ask customers to download a VPN before they could connect with their Qlik environment– “not really professional, right?” said Paul. Now, “we can better share data with our customers. [That’s the biggest] change for us moving into the Cloud environment.”
While Flint Group chose to keep their two on-premise legacy servers, the maintenance burden has reduced significantly. There are no longer issues arising from the dual server approach. “We had some issues with one server, we needed to reinstall the server, and then all the connectors were gone,” said Paul. This won’t be a problem going forward, now that they are working from a seamless Cloud environment.
“We had requests from the business, and we were rapidly growing our user base, which is important as well.” Qlik Cloud + Vizlib is an easily scalable solution that easily supports changing business requirements.
If you move to the Cloud, you will constantly get updates from the newest releases… that was a big advantage for us because we could get all the new gimmicks and all the new features without.. doing [anything].
“Keep in mind we still have those servers… but we don’t need to update them to enjoy new functions,” said Paul. Cloud technology saves time and “[reduces] the administrative burden.”
“It was actually not that difficult.”
So, the business case for moving to the Cloud was clear. The first step was, of course, planning. “We just needed to think a few days on, OK, how are we going to architecture the whole landscape.” They decided to structure the migration based on application size, first moving over the bigger and more complex operations and working down through smaller applications, until the migration was complete.
From there, Flint Group found the move easy. “It took time because things are always a bit different and you always have unexpected little things,” said Paul.
It’s important to ensure that you factor in the possibility of unforeseen issues when building your migration timeline, and take into account the time it will take for your team to familiarise themselves with the new environment.
They used the Qlik DataTransfer tool to move the QlikView Data files (QVDs) from the on-prem server to the SaaS environment.
Once we had our data in the Cloud, we almost could reuse our front ends that we had on-prem. Import them, do a few updates in the code, and it’s everything ran. So for us, moving to the Cloud was not that big of a deal.”
The execution of their migration took approximately one week. The process was primarily carried out by their B.I. team, with some users being involved in testing. They did choose to have “support from an external consulting company in France to help us set up Qlik DataTransfer.
Was there anything they would do differently, if they’d known at the start of the migration what they know now? There’s one small thing, more the result of a change of business than the migration itself. Flint Group originally had different applications unique to each division, with their own rules. They have recently switched to a cross-divisional approach.
They could have saved some duplicated effort by taking this into account pre-migration, as “our back end needs to be redesigned a bit… your data is cut into pieces, then pushed into SaaS, and then stitched together again… [if we’d] known everything upfront, of course, [we] would have done things differently.”
While things are always changing and it’s impossible to predict everything, this demonstrates the importance of considering your Cloud migration in the context of your broader B.I. strategy.
We asked for any particular advice Paul would share with another company contemplating a Cloud migration. “I would move in the easiest way. Just to do the move first and then go to improve things. It’s not possible to do everything at once, and we’re happy that we did it in that specific way.”
While the migration alone is a huge achievement, Flint Group are continuing to look for ways to get more from their data.
Qlik Cloud has a lot of functionalities that we’re simply not using yet. Let’s say, AutoML is one of those features. In the future, we might want to try this kind of thing. Automation is very hot as well. We are investigating the Writeback functionality.
Flint Group is the perfect example of a modern, data-driven company, taking their B.I. to the next level with a Cloud migration. After a seamless transition, they are enjoying the benefits of a more customer-friendly, scalable, easily maintainable environment, while continuing to look for ways to optimise their processes and get more from their data.
Vizlib’s feature-rich data visualisation products will help you get started on your data storytelling journey.
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