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PDX Inc. Deploys Snowflake and Looker To Deliver Analytics-based SaaS Solution to Pharmacies

To improve business intelligence and analytics, client PDX, Inc. upgrades legacy system to Snowflake and Looker

snowflake looker PDXSynerzip’s client, PDX, Inc., upgraded from their on-premise data warehouse to business intelligence and analytics in the cloud.  They investigated the pros and cons of various technologies, such as Hadoop, Snowflake, Spark, Storm, Tableau, Looker, etc.  They landed on Snowflake Computing and Looker to deliver an analytics-based SaaS solution to serve its 10,000 pharmacy customers. The service enables pharmacies to gain deep insight into their operations, finances, and patient-centric clinical decisions.

PDX, of Fort Worth, Texas, offers products and services so individual and chain pharmacies across the US can process prescriptions; make operational, financial and patient-centric clinical decisions; and operate wellness programs. More than 10,000 pharmacies use one or more of PDX’s suite of on-premises and SaaS software and services, requiring PDX to process over 25 million new or changed records per day.

To grow its service offerings, PDX wanted to improve business intelligence to gather data on all its pharmacies and provide that analysis back to them in a SaaS offering so the pharmacies could better market to and serve their customers.

But PDX faced several challenges with its SaaS endeavor:

  • Its legacy, on-premises data warehouse couldn’t analyze data across multiple pharmacies or an entire pharmacy chain. It couldn’t scale to accommodate additional customers, and it had no ad hoc query capability.
  • Processing larger volumes of data would have required additional, expensive hardware. For, example, PDX’s existing environment took a week to process 3 billion records — an endeavor that should have taken a fraction of the time.

PDX set up a six-week, proof-of-concept comparison to find a new data warehouse and data analytics platform. In addition to Snowflake and Looker, the competitors included PDX’s legacy data warehouse provider, and Hortonworks Hadoop deployed on the Microsoft Azure cloud service.

PDX legacy DB business intelligence Hadoop Snowflake table The Hadoop team had a two-week head start but Snowflake caught up within a few days and was importing and analyzing data within a week. During that time, the Hadoop and legacy teams spent at least three weeks standing up those environments. Snowflake was the clear winner across all categories.

For the presentation layer, PDX compared Looker to other popular data-visualization tools. Thanks to Snowflake’s native integration with Looker, its efficient use of SQL, and its avoidance of unnecessary joins, Looker achieved the desired query performance with a warehouse half the footprint of the competition’s. PDX also appreciated that Looker has an in-database application layer so PDX can grow Snowflake and Looker simultaneously.

With Snowflake and Looker, a single interface allows for logging into accounts, creating new databases and warehouses and managing permissions. As SaaS offerings, the combination easily accommodates growth, and PDX has minimal administrative chores. Data is always encrypted, at rest and in-transit.

“We feel very confident that whatever we run into we’ll be able to scale Snowflake to meet the performance requirements of our pharmacy customers,” PDX’s chief information officer, Todd Crosslin said.

With Snowflake and Looker, PDX can easily identify a pharmacy’s highest performing technicians with the lowest error rates to help improve utilization rates. PDX can pass that information onto a pharmacy as an unsolicited, good-will gesture to generate initial and ongoing interest in PDX’s new SaaS offering.

“I emailed the customer, and I can’t even say how ecstatic she was,” Crosslin said.

With a single query, PDX also found numerous prescriptions that insurance companies inadequately reimbursed. Armed with this information, the affected pharmacies could obtain outstanding monies owed.

Snowflake CEO Bob Muglia added, “Analytics-based SaaS offerings continue to emerge from vendors rich with data to provide crucial insight to their customers. Snowflake is emerging as the logical data warehouse choice of data-driven SaaS companies to best serve their customers.”

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