Creating a single source of truth for customer data


How AMBOSS uses Segment — a customer story

This article originally appeared on the Segment website.

AMBOSS is a breakthrough medical learning platform with a mission to empower all doctors to provide the best possible care. It serves those pursuing medicine, as well as those already in the field, as an extensive medical knowledge resource.

AMBOSS was founded in 2012 by a small group of doctors who were frustrated by the lack of quality resources within the medical education system. They set out to create a digital medical resource that could single-handedly support students in the classroom, as well as later on as a clinical companion.

After sustained growth over a number of years, AMBOSS now boasts more than 400 highly trained physicians, scientists, software engineers, marketers, and many more specialties.

Together, they leverage technology to provide accurate and accessible medical knowledge to more than a million healthcare professionals in 180 countries around the world.

With the company scaling rapidly, AMBOSS needed to simplify and centralize its event data pipeline and improve data quality to optimize its marketing attribution. This was essential to allow for better customer segmentation and more clearly defined marketing KPIs.

But to do this, they needed to be as cost effective as possible and not take engineering resources away from product development.

AMBOSS turned to Segment to create a centralized, single source of truth for event and user behavior data.

In doing so, they were able to:

  • Eliminate complexity and simplify its data pipeline, transitioning from batch data to event-based data
  • Optimize its custom attribution model and develop real-time dashboards to inform marketing strategy
  • Centralize GDPR compliance across multiple channels and markets and increase agility to react to fluctuating regulatory requirements

Tackling data complexity and developing a gateway for downstream tooling

After several years of 100% year-on-year growth, the AMBOSS team urgently needed to implement a more sophisticated approach to customer data.

With a growing number of people in the business, and more than one billion customer touchpoints, the company quickly needed to integrate its customer data into a single platform. They needed more accurate data, better segmentation, and more clearly defined KPIs to support its next stage of growth.

AMBOSS’ customer data was largely based on a direct copy of the production database and the concept of event-based data pipelines was a long way off. Data was dispersed across a large number of places, resulting in massive complexity and making it impossible to understand dependencies and triggers for events across channels.

It also made it difficult to identify the root causes of any issues across the marketing tech stack and resolve them quickly.

Elmar Weber, CTO at AMBOSS, recognized the need to simplify the data pipeline and switch to an event-based approach to support key business priorities.

Having successfully deployed Segment in two previous roles, Elmar was aware of the wide range of benefits that Segment could deliver in terms of creating a single source of truth for all event data and improving data quality, whilst ensuring compliance across a complex and dynamic regulatory environment.

Elmar knew that other vendors on the market simply didn’t offer the same capabilities and functionality as Segment and there was little appetite to use internal engineering resources to tackle this challenge.

AMBOSS needed its engineering teams focused on product development to maintain its market leading position and drive future growth.

Creating a single source of truth to drive a new attribution model for channel performance

AMBOSS brought in Segment to integrate multiple data sources into a single customer data platform (CDP) and manage its data across all sources.

The company uses BigQuery as its data warehouse and a number of different analytics tools, including Google Analytics and Indicative.

With Segment CDP in place, AMBOSS is now able to capture data from every type of interaction and touchpoint, for instance page views, user clicks and purchases, into a single repository in a standardized way.

This has enabled a more detailed and nuanced marketing attribution, in turn empowering the marketing team members to assess performance across channels, understand historical trends and plan ahead.

In the past, it was difficult to understand the impact of different channels due to channel-specific “siloed” views, and it was also difficult to compare performance across campaigns on a consistent basis. By combining several sources, Segment has helped build out a single, reliable source of truth.

Segment provides marketing managers with visibility on campaign and team performance through real-time dashboards and enables them to make insight-driven decisions based on trusted data.

An additional benefit of Segment is that it allows AMBOSS to respond more quickly to changes in compliance requirements.

Because all customer data is now routed through Segment, AMBOSS is able to manage policies centrally around data security and privacy — for instance, in relation to GDPR. Segment is now viewed internally as a critical solution for data compliance.

Segment is deployed across all of AMBOSS’ engineering and data teams. Engineers are responsible for ensuring all events are entered into Segment and data teams then process the data and use it for attribution and decision-making.

More recently, AMBOSS has also started to use Segment Protocols as a communication tool between engineers, product managers and data analysts. It allows teams to share and collaborate on documentation around events and facilitates dialogue between key stakeholders.

Building trust in data and optimizing decision-making to support future growth

By deploying Segment, AMBOSS has created a single source of truth for customer data, around which the whole organization can benchmark, collaborate and plan.

It has enabled teams to make confident decisions more quickly and immediately assess the impact of marketing activities across channels in real-time. And it’s eased the burden of regulatory compliance through centralized management of all data policies.

Over time, this new level of insight in attribution is expected to lead to improvements in marketing acquisition KPIs and faster product and customer experience iteration.

What’s next?

AMBOSS is looking to expand its use of Segment Protocols to further optimize the quality of its data. The team is also exploring how to simplify the management of its outbound marketing activities.

There is an appetite to optimize campaigns across multiple destinations using Segment as the single source of truth for customer segmentation.

Success Metrics

  • Increased self service across the product and analytics organizations, allowing user behavior analysis by all product managers and user researchers.
  • Reduced time to insights from days to minutes.
  • Freed up massive amounts of time for product analysts to focus on advanced topics.