Engineers at payment processing company, Dwolla scale data infrastructure with Tableau and AWS


Reduced customer reporting time by weeks
Scalable infrastructure with Tableau and AWS
Identify fraud hot spots with Tableau mapping

Dwolla is a fast-growing company providing online payment solutions for businesses of all sizes and powering billions of dollars in commerce annually. Their mission is to move money quickly while keeping costs low. With Tableau and Amazon Web Services (AWS), Dwolla created a flexible, scalable infrastructure for its growing business. With Tableau, Dwolla streamlined analytics, reducing reporting time by weeks and saving valuable engineering resources. Today, users across the company can analyze customer demographics and detect fraud with Tableau maps—helping protect members and keeping costs low.

It was really easy to be able to connect Tableau with AWS. There are already built-in connectors for the different databases that we have. For example, we have data in SQL server, MySQL, Postgres, Redshift. So we're able to connect to all that out of the box with Tableau.

A future-proof data infrastructure with AWS and Tableau

Dwolla is a small company with big ambitions. When adopting technology, they need speed, scalability, and compatibility to rapidly accelerate growth.

With growing business demands came growing data and as a result, Dwolla engineers needed to scale the company’s data infrastructure. Dwolla leveraged Amazon Web Services (AWS) to store, process, and access data at scale. Less than a year later, Dwolla adopted Tableau to uncover insights within this big data.

A big factor in Dwolla’s decision to adopt Tableau and AWS was cost of ownership. Fred Galoso, Software Developer at Dwolla explains, “Total cost of ownership was one of the main reasons we moved to AWS, and in conjunction, Tableau. With AWS, we're able to store data and also process that data at scale for a fraction of the cost of some other commercial providers that are out there. Tableau is a natural fit and saves us a lot of time, effort and engineering resources to be able to create those insights.”

Fred shares how the combination of Tableau and AWS allows for speed, scalability, and flexibility as Dwolla grows. And with Tableau, the Dwolla team can natively connect to a variety of data sources including Amazon Redshift, Amazon Elastic MapReduce (EMR), Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, and PostgreSQL.

“AWS provides us the speed in terms of our infrastructure and from an organizational standpoint, the flexibility to change. With Tableau we also get that speed. It's really performant but also really flexible and really easy to adapt to anything that we need to change.”

“I think the combination of the two is really exciting, AWS and Tableau. Essentially, I am going to be able to answer the questions I was today, even when Dwolla is ten times bigger, a thousand times bigger, however many times bigger it is [in the future].”

Tableau has essentially allowed us to go from weeks to author a dashboard into hours and days.

Reducing analysis by weeks, saving engineering and IT resources

Before Tableau, analysis was increasingly time intensive for the IT and engineering teams.

Fred recalls, “Creating new reports or dashboards, if we wanted any sort of flexibility, required a lot of developer or engineering resources.”

With Tableau, Dwolla has streamlined this process. Fred concludes, “Tableau has essentially allowed us to go from days to even weeks to author a dashboard into hours and to days.

Instead of static spreadsheets, the team uses interactive Tableau dashboards to uncover insights at a glance—saving valuable engineering resources and encouraging innovation.

“We’re able to essentially plot everything and look at clusters and colors and trend lines over time. Being able to see those trends in Tableau from a glance is a lot easier than looking at a spreadsheet.”

Today, Dwolla employees can tap into a multitude of data sources. In less than a year, Tableau has spread across Dwolla teams, with employees creating hundreds of Tableau workbooks. Instead of creating reports in silos, Dwolla teams now collaborate on analyses.

“With Tableau I often run into cases where I thought I had an idea of how I wanted to visualize something and then I'll just be sitting side-by-side with say someone from marketing and we’re working together to try different combinations” says Fred.

“Really, what we're hearing from our colleagues is, “we want more Tableau.””

I think the combination of the two is really exciting, AWS and Tableau. Essentially, I am going to be able to answer the questions I was today, even when Dwolla is ten times bigger, a thousand times bigger, however many times bigger it is [in the future].

Uncovering customer demographics and preventing fraud with Tableau mapping

Since Dwolla’s founding, the company has evolved to meet the needs of its customers. With Tableau, the Dwolla team can conduct market research and understand “who’s using Dwolla, why they are using it, and what Dwolla products they are using to be successful.”

“We're looking at any sort of data that we need to power our payments network. So that could be customer demographics, looking at our products and managing our products, or things like fraud and compliance,” shares Fred. “It's a big part of making sure we're protecting our members and keeping the cost of moving money in the Dwolla network as low as possible.”

For example, a fraud analyst may look at registration data to analyze new accounts. With Tableau, they can plot hot spots for high-intensity financial crime areas to quickly identify trends instead of manually analyzing this data in spreadsheet—enabling proactive fraud prevention.

“They're able to understand and be at the forefront of those trends,” says Fred. “From a visual standpoint, they're able to just pan and zoom and see all the different types and zones that there are in a map without having to just pull down a data sheet.”

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