In the fast-paced world of logistics, having flexible, easily accessible data and insights keeps supply chains on the move. According to logistics data specialist 7Bridges, the sector is ten to fifteen years behind others in terms of digitization, despite it forming the backbone of many businesses.
7Bridges is working with clients in med-tech, healthcare, retail, and manufacturing to build optimized software that reinvents their supply chains. Its AI-powered management platform helps combat inefficiency, waste, and disruption to goods in transit.
I recently caught up with Simon Thelin, one of its lead data engineers. He filled me in on how he came to bring Starburst Galaxy — or what he calls the ‘glue’ — on board to help his company’s platform give enhanced insights to its logistics customers.
Simon Thelin explains how data is driving supply chains forward
He began by sharing with me that there are many different layers to a supply chain:
“On one level, there are invoices that need to reflect different shipments and their respective rate costs, for example. We help clients consolidate scattered information into one place and highlight what they are spending on each provider, country, and other information — which can then be used to determine how they can improve their outcomes overall.
Then, on the more advanced side, we essentially look at simulation optimization for shipments. If a client needs to send something from the UK to China, for example, we help them understand the best and most cost-efficient route, amongst other parameters.”
Data simulation for global pharmaceutical company, Clinigen
I was keen to find out an example of one of his clients and how the 7Bridges platform is helping them in this way. He told me they’ve been working with the global pharmaceutical company, Clinigen.
“This was a case of them needing to extend their world-class logistics so they can better deliver medicine to providers and, ultimately, patients on time. They wanted to be able to use simulations to explore different scenarios. We were able to help them quickly rule out some ideas that would have taken them weeks or months to investigate, and helped them come up with new ones.
At this stage, I wanted to understand what brought Simon to Trino and, of course, Starburst.
“The whole story is that I was looking into the lakehouse storage layer. We use open source Delta at the moment with various different connectors. I was exploring Presto at the time to bring it all together. That’s when I stumbled upon Trino.
I ran it myself for a couple of months, just to conceptually see if it worked. Then I reached out to your colleagues at Starburst and told them I’d been running it, but didn’t have time to continue doing this.
We are actually very open source heavy with a lot of skill in-house in Kubernetes and the frameworks themselves. With this deep knowledge, we like to host stuff ourselves, which is why we tried to host Trino first.”
“It was a reverse sales process from our side. We reached out to you…”
Simon continued: “When I got to speak to the Starburst team, I asked if they could show me how to speed up our processes. It was a reverse sales process from our side. We reached out to you because we could see that your people are contributing to Trino and maintaining it.
The biggest benefit of Starburst Galaxy, for me personally, is that I save months and months of work so we can get the business value faster and focus more on the things on the data side. We could decide to pick another SaaS platform or not, but we need that flexibility.
There are a lot of features in Galaxy that are good, but they can be overwhelming for non-data people in the business. At the moment, we are trying to push to use Galaxy’s metrics so we can measure the KPIs of people using the platform versus the old one.
This gives us a lot of insights into what users are connecting to and from which data sources.”
Starburst is helping 7Bridges deliver actionable insights for Clinigen
That brought me to ask Simon to tell me more about how Galaxy is helping him and his colleagues gather the insights customers like Clinigen need to drive their operations forward.
“Starburst is the magic glue that holds everything together. We have many different compute points and types of data sources. Essentially, making sure that we can get an environment of a decentralized compute but centralized storage.
If it’s just reporting or enabling data access to other data applications, Starburst and Trino act as a metadata governance layer for all the data in the company. In some cases, Galaxy enables us to use Trino directly for compute, like transformations.
We’re consolidating our data sources from several places to the lakehouse so that anyone in the business can access them. For us, we get the same benefit of a traditional data warehouse, but we can also integrate more teams within our company.
It has made it easier for people who don’t work in data day-to-day. It’s a more inviting architecture to teach and make people a part of.
By making data more available across our business, we can get insights and iterate on ideas and different types of research and development faster.
This ultimately means we can serve more existing and new clients and get a more predictable system as our company grows.”
For more information, watch Simon’s complete 7bridges presentation from Big Data London 2023 below: