Mappy understands user behavior with Tableau & Hadoop

Mappy, France's leading mapping and route-searching site, has more than 10 million unique monthly visitors. Before Tableau, the company spent hours—or even days—working to understand user behavior. Today, business users can ask and answer their own questions, making access to millions of data points faster, easier, and more fun.

Mappy is a software publisher that largely focuses on cartography. Mappy designs maps, calculates routes with directions for cars, public transportation, bicycles and on foot, and enables users to search for points of interest, restaurants, hotels and shops via the Internet, from a tablet, cell phone, or a GPS device.

Visualizing data is important to understand what Mappy’s 10 million unique users are doing each month and how the data behaves. Every day at Mappy, around a dozen people need to find answers to questions about the product, features, and more.

For example, Mappy’s analysts needed to look at how users behave, how many times a point of interest (POI) is viewed on a map, the number of times that users click on a point, and even how many times the POI address is shown.

With 4 million POIs available on Mappy, the team’s ability to answer questions was quickly outstripped by new requests.

The previous system used was long, complicated, and tedious. The team knew it needed to rethink how Mappy was collecting, viewing, and understanding data.

“In the past, we were doing BI like in the 1980s. We used a processing chain with the server logs composed of an aggregation stage written in Python. The aggregated data was then stored on Microsoft SQL Server. To visualize the data, we used Excel, which pointed to SQL server cubes that we had to recompile every night. This process added hours, if not days, to data analysis. Finally, PDF exports were created so analysts could have a direct image in order to visualize the data” – Nicolas Korchia, Business Manager.

Each day this represented 150 GB of data produced by the company’s 120 operational servers. Faced with this continually increasing volume of data, Mappy had reached the upper limit of its vertical scalability with its old system. The platform needed a major redevelopment. The Business Intelligence Manager decided to take a radical turn that would enable analysts to obtain and visualize data in a simple and effective way.

Users are a lot freer. With Tableau, it’s much easier, looks better, and is a lot faster!

Data visualization: A cornerstone of Mappy’s activity

Mappy completely overhauled its system—moving from a SQL Server platform to a Hadoop platform coupled with Spark SQL. This redesign made it possible to speed up processing of queries submitted through Mappy.

During the redesign, the issue of data visualization cropped up. They needed to find a solution that would integrate easily with the system.

“Tableau is well known and, as a result, it has very quickly appeared in the top 10 solutions on Benchmarker. We asked Actinvision, a company that specializes in implementing solutions, to help with decision-making. They were quick to recommend we use Tableau.”

Actinvision provided the Business Intelligence Manager at Mappy with the necessary means for testing the solution. After this test period and handover, Tableau became the obvious choice,” says Nicolas.

“Tableau was quick and easy to implement. After the skills transfer, members of the Mappy team were able to become independent very quickly,” adds Olivier Catherin, Chairman and CEO of Actinvision

There are about ten Mappy employees using Tableau today. Some come from the technical department, the analysts, and others are more on the business side—people who are asking questions about the product and its features.

“I provide the tools that will allow them to answer questions by themselves, and this is what Tableau is allowing them to do right now," said Nicolas Korchia, Business Intelligence Manager at Mappy.

Tableau was very quick to install. “It’s an incredibly intuitive tool, so users can be trained to use it very easily and independently. In less than one week, we managed to upload incredibly interesting visualizations,” Nicolas says. “For us, visualizing data is important, so we can understand what our users do and how our data behaves.”

In the video below, Oliver Catherin, President and CEO of Actinvision, talks about partnering with Tableau

With Tableau, this is easier, looks better, and works faster

With Tableau, Mappy has improved the way it visualizes data.

"We’ve saved a lot of time. Since changing system, moving to a Hadoop platform which allowed us to prepare the data and Tableau on Dataviz on top of that, my business team is completely independent.”

Tableau users can find their own way through the masses of data.

“They no longer have to ask me questions because they’re directly connected to the data. Users are a lot freer with Tableau, it’s much easier, looks better and works a lot faster!”

On a daily basis, understanding data becomes much more fun for the users. Naturally, they are looking for new answers and asking new questions, which wasn't possible with the older, complicated system.

“Following performance metrics and the results of automatic tests or worse still, understanding 4 million POIs, well, it’s not much of a laugh. Now with Tableau, it’s become much more fun.”

Users want to create new visualizations, create new dashboards that make it possible to draw many more conclusions about the data and gain a much better understanding of how Mappy is being used.

“The data is interesting now, people are no longer frightened—quite the opposite in fact, people are willingly using this data.”

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