Snowflake Ventures invests in Omni | Learn more

Ascend case study

Migrating in less than six weeks to speed up dashboard performance by 2x and adoption by 30%

Case Study - Ascend

Ascend set out to simplify and modernize the financial infrastructure for insurance — an industry where providers faced outdated and complex payment and accounting processes. In just three years, over 3,000 firms have adopted Ascend and seen an average 25% increase in profitability and 60% decrease in operational expenses as a result.

With Ascend’s growth, the team needed to rethink parts of their data stack to ensure everyone could easily access the data they needed to make the best decisions. For Head of Data Shyam Sivakumar, this meant finding a replacement for Looker to increase performance and user adoption. “Looker originally made it much easier to model data than previous tools, but over time, the tool became overly complex and performance degraded. It was also missing features we needed with no sight of them on the roadmap.”

Shyam set out to find a new BI tool that would make it easier for all employees to use data, specifically by seeking a more intuitive UI and faster dashboard performance. “Like other data team leads, I want to get more people using data in their day-to-day work, and that was the impetus for migrating off of Looker,” says Shyam.

After evaluating several BI tools, Ascend switched to Omni to:

  • Improve performance with Omni returning reports >2x faster than the previous solution
  • Increase user adoption by 30% - growing from 70% to 100% of the company using data in less than six weeks
  • Establish a long-term partnership matching Ascend's requirements to a customer-first product team and rapid product development cycles

Key elements of Ascend’s data stack

The evaluation: The need for speed

Omni had the performance and functionality that Ascend was looking for, but it was ultimately Omni’s pace of product development that led Shyam to choose it over other tools. Having seen Omni’s product in an earlier iteration, Shyam was surprised by the number of improvements and new functionality that had been added in such a short time.

"The speed and agility of the Omni team and their willingness to seek out and incorporate user feedback really stood out to us." Shyam Sivakumar, Head of Data

In evaluating BI tools, Shyam wasn’t looking for a short-term partner. He wanted the opportunity for feedback to be listened to and incorporated into the product roadmap. “The Omni team is so receptive to feedback. There have been times when I shared a suggestion or request and it was quickly translated into the relevant product requirements; sometimes these have been built into the product in as little as a week or two,” recalls Shyam.

While cost was not a deciding factor when choosing a BI tool, Shyam was motivated to switch from Looker to Omni as quickly as possible. Looker was considerably more expensive and did not deliver the company-wide value he wanted from a BI solution.

The migration: Achieving 100% adoption in less than six weeks

Shyam kicked off the migration fast with a plan to tackle the P0s first. “We started by building the highest priority dashboards and reports, including the company-wide metrics that we report regularly to leadership and send out to external partners.”

In parallel, Ascend’s Omni customer success manager, Jack Sweeney, hosted a series of training sessions for the broader team, so everyone would feel confident to transition to Omni before Looker access was cut off. “Jack gave a structured walkthrough on the core philosophies and concepts of Omni, and it gave me time to focus on building assets for the team to use once they had been onboarded.”

With the P0 dashboards and reports in place, Shyam began talking to leaders from other functions to identify some of the important but less urgent pieces of content. “This was a collaborative process. I worked with stakeholders from each team to understand how they were using Looker and what they would need to have in Omni to be successful.”

Ascend was ultimately able to fully transition off of their previous BI tool in less than six weeks. “We were able to cut off access to the Looker very quickly and then address any new reports that needed building as they came in directly in Omni. That might not work for a larger organization, but we’re a small and nimble team. Speed is important to us, and it worked well for us.”

Results: More data usage, less friction

Today, everyone at Ascend uses Omni. Shyam shares a few of many use cases: “Our Go-To-Market team has specific views that track funnel and sales performance. Folks on the Operations team use it to identify and track the resolution of customer issues. And leadership has a dashboard they can view to quickly get a sense of how the business is doing.”

Ascend’s customers and partners benefit from Omni too. “We create standard reports and Omni will email PDF versions automatically, at whatever cadence we choose. For example, our agency partners want to know how much money they’re making every month, and we used to have to manually send each report. Now, those reports are automated with Omni with filters to ensure each partner only receives their data.”

Across teams and use cases, two things about Omni have stood out: performance and flexibility.

"Some reports and dashboards, especially the one used by GTM, used to take 20 to 30 seconds to load with Looker. With Omni, it loads in less than half the time." Shyam Sivakumar, Head of Data

The team also loves being able to explore data however they’re most comfortable. For example, Shyam reports that Calculations are by far the most popular feature. “It’s really helpful for end users who want to easily do custom calculations in a format they’re familiar with, and it’s great for me because I can easily expose the ones that are relevant to the whole team for re-use,” says Shyam. “I love having the ability to edit the SQL directly and then just promote it to the shared model so the entire organization can use it. What used to take 15 minutes is just five clicks for me now, Omni saves me a lot of time.”

In addition to improved adoption and performance, increased speed, and a lower price tag, Shyam is looking forward to what’s to come — and continuing to share feedback on which updates would most benefit the team.

"When you introduce a tool with better performance and visualizations, and a more intuitive user experience, I find you usually see a step change in adoption across the organization, and that's been our experience with Omni." Shyam Sivakumar, Head of Data