Data Technology, Cloud
Clay Solutions, a SALTO Group Company, is a software company specialized in building cloud-based access control solutions. Its innovative solutions include cloud technology and mobile applications for maximum security and optimal manageability.
Every day, Clay Solutions provides over 1.5 million secured yet keyless lock openings to offices, schools, commercial buildings, (holiday) homes, and other units worldwide. Clay is the daughter company of SALTO Systems, a market leader in smart electronic access control solutions across a wide range of industries. With over 28 subsidiaries worldwide, it enjoys a global presence, supported by an extensive international sales, installation, and support network.
One of Clay Solutions’ goals is to meet its customers’ continuously changing needs through its cloud-based access control solution, SALTO Keys as a Service (SALTO KS). However, Clay needed to find a way to convert the enormous amount of data it produced into actionable insights and well-founded predictions to live up to this.
About SALTO KS
SALTO KS is an entirely cloud-based access control platform with 2.6 million users in over 8,000 buildings and more than 1,500,000 lock openings per day. Its hardware components, manufactured by the parent company SALTO Systems, are all wireless, which means installation does not require cables or wiring. By combining this hardware with an annual subscription to the SALTO KS platform, innovative features guarantee business users maximum stability, security, and availability. For instance, a co-working space can automate access management, analyze data, and gain valuable insights regarding member behavior, such as when most members arrive or leave or when it’s rush hour. Up until now, SALTO KS was very focused on small and medium-sized companies. However, by adding new products and innovative features, the company wants to increase the number of large customers it serves.
Using data for continuous innovation
Clay Solutions recognized that it needed to use the data produced by its platform to reduce costs, improve customer satisfaction and remain a market leader. More specifically, the company decided to use the data for:
1. Predictive maintenance
2. To understand which features are popular, which are not, and why
3. To inform SALTO KS’ installers of malfunctions proactively
“Extracting information will allow us to predict our customers’ needs more accurately, develop a predictive support platform, and evaluate the direction in which to take our product in the future, especially when our focus lies on enterprise companies.” – Michele Spighi, Clay Solutions.
Taking a Deep Dive Into Data Together
Knowing the direction in which they needed help, Clay Solutions issued a Request for Proposal with Xebia, and that’s how the partnership started. A more concrete question (‘New site installation anomaly detection’) was formulated from the initial request to do more with data. Xebia analyzed data and tested definitions before presenting the outcome to stakeholders.“After they approved of our definition of an anomaly, we built a job that ran every night to determine which locks experienced an outage or other issue the day before. This generated a report which we stored in their database,” Robert Rodger, Data Scientist at Xebia Data and AI, explains. "We built a data platform (including Databricks and Azure components), which we connected to Clay’s existing real-time event stream and customer database. We explored the data and proposed a definition of an anomaly. Once approved by Clay, we built a nightly job to process the event data and determine which locks had suffered an issue the day before, generate a report, and store it back to their database.”
Collecting And Storing Data Correctly
Clay’s set-up consisted of a database for information storage and report generation and a separate event message stream, which wasn’t accessible for ad hoc analytical queries
The database only saved information for seven days, which made long-term correlations impossible to generate and required Clay to know which questions it was interested in before storing it. Simply put, if the team needed any insight, the options would be limited, and a request would take days to process. Robert explains how they solved this challenge: “We saved all events (more than seven days) to the data platform, allowing for cost-efficient querying of historical data. We enabled Clay Solutions to use existing reports for future insights by dynamically changing the time window and the statistics.” Being able to retrieve the information needed from the systems and access and use data enables Clay Solutions to improve customer satisfaction and innovate services.
Alexander Bij, Big Data Specialist at Xebia Data and AI, adds:
“By integrating the data pipeline (information from the locks or keys) and data-platform with Clay’s existing monitoring and alerting toolset, employees have already been able to resolve issues quickly.”
Xebia and Clay Solutions use Scrum to ensure a speedy and high-quality process. “We are pleased to have partnered with Xebia. How they managed the project and structured the Scrum process was impressive. We certainly learned a lot from them,” Michele adds.
“Our goal was to enable Clay Solutions to use the enormous amount of data that was produced but not processed.” – Robert Rodger, Data Scientist at Xebia Data and AI.
Today, the generic and very scalable data platform built by Xebia ingests and registers new events from SALTO KS every fifteen minutes, accumulates them locally, and makes them available for short and long-term future reference. With this new platform, Xebia has reduced the time from queries to answers from days to seconds. Replacing the previous uptime model (‘always on’) with a usage model (every fifteen minutes) enables Clay Solutions to save costs while still meeting the needs of its users. Additionally, replacing a third-party solution with a custom-made platform also lowers costs.
The new platform helps Clay Solutions offer better customer service by providing insights, generating alerts, and enabling data-driven decision-making and innovation. The data platform, implemented by Xebia, empowers Clay Solutions to analyze the status of their sites. Based on this analysis, Clay Solutions is able to identify (potential) interruptions and proactively prevent them from happening. This way of working has dramatically increased customer satisfaction.
Clay Solutions has tested the platform extensively and is now ready to detect anomalies, create reports, monitor (mal)function, troubleshoot, and inform installers. They are also determining which roles they need in the team, like Product Owner and Data Scientist. The next step is to hire these experts and start collecting requests to improve and innovate Clay Solution’s services.