BHG Finland: A data platform for future innovations
Finnish market leader in the Do-It-Yourself e-commerce sector re-thinks their handling of data
No more financial data quality issues in business analytics
BHG is one of the largest consumer e-commerce companies in the Nordics, specializing in the home improvement and Do-It-Yourself sectors. In Finland, BHG’s largest e-commerce stores, taloon.com, netrauta.fi and talotarvike.com cover over 280,000 items from over 1,000 brands. This selection attracts more than two million unique visitors each month.
BHG Finland is built on a collection of several companies that have merged and been acquired over time, all with their own IT tools and systems. One of BHG Finland’s central IT solutions is its business Intelligence (BI) system, which is, among other things, used for financial steering and reporting on all levels of the organization. However, point-to-point integrations were becoming a burden.
“The end-users of the BI system range from product and category managers to the company CEO,” explains Pekka Rantanen, Cloud Services and Integrations Lead for BHG Finland. “This, in turn, meant that IT might not have known about problems in timeliness or quality of the data before the users noticed that the financial numbers were not up to date when they needed them.“ The inaccuracies also hurt the overall trust in the reporting system as end-users began to have doubts about the reliability of the data.
Searching for the right Google Cloud Platform partner
In early 2023, it became clear that BHG Finland needed a robust data platform solution to support its future business. BHG made a solid commitment to the Google Cloud Platform some years ago. “This is why we didn’t even consider other cloud platform vendors,” admits Rantanen. “Also, we knew that Google’s platform would offer all the functionalities and the scalability we needed. We just needed the right partner, as we realized our expertise and time would not suffice to create a robust enough data platform solution,” he continues.
BHG organized an agile round of requests for proposals and received three valid offers from data platform players experienced in Google’s environment – one from Codento. “We saw that much effort had been put into Codento’s quotation, and their thinking matched nicely to what we had been planning.” Rantanen says and continues: “We also very much liked how Codento’s experts presented their case. Also, from the beginning, we got to talk to the people that actually were going to implement our solution.” As even the price was right, Codento was an easy choice for BHG Finland.
“The project went almost too smoothly.”
Rantanen is delighted with the way the project itself was carried out. “I have nothing but compliments to give, as the project went almost too smoothly,” he praises. “Of course, there are always minor hick-ups, but Codento’s professionalism and helpfulness have been delightful.”
Proactivity, scalability, and a vision for the future
The new data platform has been in use on BHG Finland’s financial data reporting for some weeks now. Rantanen compares the situation with the earlier spaghetti of point-to-point integrations and identifies several improvements: “Whereas earlier, everything was only relying on the one BI contact person, we now have a handful of IT people that can manage and fix the issues with the data platform. That means our shoulders are wider on this business-critical system.”
“We may not foresee what our growing business might need over months and years,” Rantanen continues. Thus, to be prepared for what comes, BHG Finland wanted a future-proof solution that adheres to Google’s best practices.
Google’s platform also includes mechanisms for system self-recovery. And in case they don’t work, it notifies the admins. “This allows us welcomed proactiveness on fixing things before the end-users have noticed anything.” Rantanen points out. “All in all, this new way of handling our data will gradually enable us to move the data transformation and computing to the cloud, enabling the BI system to concentrate on reporting, which it was designed for.”
In the mid and long term, Rantanen identifies several advantages of the data platform for BHG Finland’s business. “We have now implemented the data platform for financial reporting. While financial data is mostly used internally in BHG Group, other data types like product and supplier data, for example, could have much more versatile use cases.” In the future, with the new data platform, BHG will be able to automate the consolidation and distribution of data to, e.g., their logistics partners to be used in their warehouse management systems.
“Rock-solid foundation for data collection, storing, conversions, and sharing.”
Overall, Rantanen views the data platform as the basis for BHG Finland’s future business: “We now have a rock-solid foundation for our data collection, storing, conversions, and sharing. Our data foundation is smartly designed and implemented, centralized, and monitored to accompany our future needs.”
Rantanen also mentions that all the needed functionality was ready in the Google Cloud Platform: “Our data journey is only in its early phases. We do not know where the boundaries for this development are, but I am sure we will not reach the limits of the platform anytime soon.”
In summary: Codento architected and implemented a data platform for BHG Finland
- Designed the system to be modular, easily extensible, and able to scale
- Automated the build and deployment pipelines, allowing BHG to develop and deploy its data pipelines in a controlled and continuous manner
- Utilized cutting-edge technologies and frameworks and designed the platform to be highly scalable, secure, and compliant with industry regulations, following Google Cloud’s best practices
- Event-based data ingestion
- Robust ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) pipelines for data ingestion (Workflows & Cloud Functions)
- A data warehouse with analytics (Cloud Storage & BigQuery)
- A user-friendly dashboard for easy access to key performance indicators and monitoring with alerts (Logs Explorer)
- Platform was deployed entirely using infrastructure-as-code (Terraform)
- Deployed separate DevOps pipelines for infrastructure, including BigQuery, operations and access control, and business logic, to Cloud Functions and Workflows – all using modern declarative IaC tools and Cloud Build for pipeline control
- Deployments triggered automatically by changes in source code, mirrored from GitHub to Google Cloud Source Repositories
- Configured the Cloud Build triggers to detect the pieces that have changed and redeploy only what is required
- Enabled seamless integration with BHG’s existing systems to facilitate a smooth transition and limit operational downtime
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