How to Accelerate The Work of 8,000 Employees? The Digital Transformation of EssenceMediacom

EssenceMediacom is a new type of agency that creates breakthroughs for the world’s biggest brands. From boosting brand recognition for Coca-Cola to driving sales for Dell, they help companies utilize media better and reinvent how they interact with consumers. 

Working on such huge-scale projects, EssenceMediacom relies fundamentally on data work, and our job was to help them optimize this crucial domain within the agency.

We started working together a little earlier with the support we needed for cloud solutions. During this time, we could experience how effectively Alterdata deals with complex problems. It was certainly one of the main factors influencing their selection to the shortlist of potential suppliers.

-Jarek Dejneka, Managing Partner at EssenceMediacom

Striving for a Planning Excellence

Like many tech-centric businesses, Excel was initially the company’s primary tool for data work. However, as the business expanded, along with its employee and data count, it required a faster and more scalable solution. 

The project aimed to move processes based on Excel files and macros, R algorithms, and PowerPoint visualizations into a single-purpose, easy-to-use web ap​​p, using scalable Google services like BigQuery and Compute Engine. 

The goal was to create a system capable of concurrent operation for multiple users simultaneously, replacing the need for each user to run slow Excel files locally. 

The app was supposed to allow end users to enter basic data, create scenarios, and run simulations based on in-house developed planning algorithms powered by a scalable, cloud-based environment. 

EssenceMediacom expected the new solution to significantly speed up the media planning process and allow the team to focus on planning excellence by eliminating repetitive, manual activities associated with multiple disconnected technologies.

And the endeavor was worth the effort, as the tool was utilized daily by 8,000 employees from 100 countries!

Discovering, planning, and executing

Our journey began with a series of discovery meetings and workshops, where we aimed to fully understand the planning process and identify the tools and algorithms used.

We segmented the work into 3 distinct parts: frontend development, backend calculations, and backend optimization.

For the front end, we embraced an iterative approach. We held meetings to define our requirements for the forthcoming screens and reconvened every week or two to review the developed screens, provide feedback, and plan the next steps.

For the backend, we convened meetings to discuss offline tool calculations and formulas, after which we created a solution that employees tested and approved. 

These approaches allowed us to progress through versions quite smoothly:

  • Approximately 1.5-2 months from the start, we introduced the first mockup version, focusing on the dashboard part.
  • The following month ushered in the second version, which emphasized calculations.
  • An additional month later, we released an optimized version.
  • Throughout these stages, we consistently refined and polished existing components.
  • Finally, we moved to the maintenance part of the project, ensuring everything ran smoothly, and any arising issues were swiftly addressed.

In the project on our side, three backend developers (one of whom eventually transitioned into a project management role) and one frontend developer were involved.

The solution architecture was designed using modern cloud technologies such as Compute Engine, Google Cloud Storage, Cloud SQL, BigQuery, Pubsub, and Cloud Function, as well as programming technologies like Python and Angular. 

I believe that introducing the stronger presence of a project manager was a good move for the project’s overall success. Although all team members have their areas of expertise, the PM’s presence clarified the relation among the threads, giving us one point of contact for agreeing on the next steps and solving challenges. Most of the team was accessible and open to ad-hoc meetings and phone calls. Apart from the structured budgeting calls, we had a need-based communication that was nonetheless very fluent. We also appreciate the budgeting meetings that give us a better perspective of the workflow and budget status.

-Jarek Dejneka, Managing Partner at EssenceMediacom

From an Excel solution to the cloud and data-driven app

Upon releasing the calculation version, EssenceMediacom showcased it to its internal stakeholders, and it received positive feedback.

Previously, using Excel tools, they had to wait anywhere from several minutes to an hour for calculation results. This delay constantly interrupted their workflow, causing them to switch tasks while waiting and consequently scattering their focus.

The new apps addressed this issue by delivering results almost instantly. The analysts noted improvements in speed, clarity of result presentation, and the elimination of inefficient manual work with files.

According to the company’s Research Director, Dawid Wiśniewski, the solution saves the company approximately 1,000 hours each year, which is roughly equivalent to the workload of one full-time employee.

Moreover, the enhanced tools also appealed to new analysts who hadn’t worked with Excel before. They appreciated its design and ease of navigation, confirming that it satisfied their business requirements.

Following the uplifting feedback and subsequent advancements, EssenceMediacom introduced the tool to external stakeholders as well.

Planning process accelerated by 10x
Seamless Transition from Excel to web apps
Easier and faster data processing
1000 hours of work saved annually
Widespread Adoption of over 8,000 users
  • I very much appreciate the company’s efficiency and flexibility, as well as the fact that working with them, we felt taken care of and knew that they were taking responsibility for the final product they would deliver. Alterdata is a company definitely worth recommending, and we are constantly increasing the number of joint projects.”

-Jarek Dejneka, Managing Partner at EssenceMediacom

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