How Sijthoff Media Has Become Data-Driven: An IT Perspective

Sijthoff Media is executing a data-driven transformation. Part of the strategy is creating a central view of the company and making actionable insights available to employees and partners. Learn more about this strategy and its impact in our customer success story.

Sijthoff Media Looker

We interviewed Sijthoff's IT Director, Daan van Renterghem, about the strategy's drivers and results. 


Who is Sijthoff Media?

"Sijthoff Media offers high-quality content, leading education programs, and data-driven insights. Its independent editorial teams and communities inform and connect 3.5 million professionals and boardroom members monthly in marketing and communications, tech, finance, HR, M&A, and government.

Sijthoff offers events, awards, expos, executive dinners, magazines, training courses, content platforms, and job sites." 

What is your role in Sijthoff Media?

"As the IT Director of Sijthoff Media Group for seven years, my role has changed over time. My initial assignment was to modernize the IT landscape, provide a clear strategy and roadmap, and facilitate the buy-and-build strategy.

Over the years, we've created an IT Department that facilitates the ambitions of various brands. During my time at Sijthoff, we made ten acquisitions and sold two companies, which added to the dynamics. Combining strategy and operations makes my role extra interesting."

Tell us about the data-driven strategy.

"With Crystalloids, we design and implement data-driven work for editorial teams, marketing, sales, and finance. It is important to facilitate the strategic goal of retaining and growing subscribers. After all, we must make the right decisions with complete and reliable insights.

It begins by providing our employees comprehensive access to the information essential for their core tasks.

We have combined the fragmented information in different systems and databases in Google BigQuery now and use the Looker data platform as an interface for users.

Transformations, linking and adequately structuring the data, and using naming conventions have made the data usable.

Employees now utilize self-service analytics to leverage standard dashboards without code knowledge. They can compile, customize and share these dashboards with colleagues, set up alerts and perform drill-downs to record levels.

One notable application is the ability to create audience segments without needing to code and share the audience with our marketing automation platform, Google Ads or other channels. It increases employee satisfaction because they can do more quickly and with higher quality."

How Sijthoff Media Has Become Data-Driven: An IT Perspective

How does this contribute to customer satisfaction?

"The result of the internal preparation is that we can better communicate with the right target group at the right time with the most appropriate information. As a media company, information is the core of our services. We find, engage, and captivate our target groups."

How did you start with Looker? 

"We started with a Proof of Concept to solve a problem we were struggling with. Crystalloids helped us automate the ability to provide our partner advertisers with comprehensive data about the performance of their content. Consider insights such as which content contributions have the highest reach, which job roles are reached and the reading time.

In addition, our advisors can now provide better-informed advice for further improvement of the content and media planning.

One custom report template has been created to ensure brand consistency and efficiency thanks to Looker's embedded function. The partner report is automated for each partner, granting them direct access to Looker to the data through interactive dashboards and automated delivery of PDFs.

"Looker's embedded function ensures consistency and efficiency across brands, automating partner reports and saving us days of manual work each month."
Sijthoff Media
Daan van Renterghem

IT Director

Following the successful pilot, we expanded, refined, and prioritized the backlog and started developing data products in sprints together with Crystalloids."

Why did Sijthoff choose Google Cloud and Looker? 

"We collaborate with Google, including using Google Cloud as a hosting environment.

Over time, we also started working more and more with Looker Studio. It is an excellent solution, but we wanted more functionalities and the ability to look at more data from various sources.

During a GCP review, Google suggested a pilot with Crystalloids to employ BigQuery with Looker to explore the complete offering.

We previously used PowerBI, but it lacked cost-effectiveness and the needed dynamic features. For instance, its drill-down functionalities were less robust than Looker's. We also decided against Tableau due to similar limitations and its high cost."

How do you experience the collaboration with Crystalloids?

"The speed of the delivery and the expertise pleasantly surprised us. The development process has consistently been ahead of the roadmap since the first sprint.

It has been remarkable how efficiently, quickly, and easily everything can be expanded and how quickly and simply we can get started with it ourselves. Therefore, we were allowed to turn the buttons ourselves.

In addition to their excellent development work, the developers actively consulted us, leveraging their experience in the media industry. This has dramatically improved both the quality and overall enjoyment of the collaboration."

How do you get commitment from business users?

"Including users in the plans and objectives from the start is crucial, ensuring that their wants and needs are properly considered in the development process. A data-driven strategy is undoubtedly also about people. 

Employees are trained in using Looker, with ongoing functional support, together with Crystalloids and our super users."

What are your most important wishes for the IT field in the coming year?

"An important goal we are currently implementing is optimizing and automating various processes. This allows for significant time savings and error reduction, with the data platform playing a significant role.

We approach AI and Gen AI from a balanced and nuanced perspective. People often see AI as a solution for the future, and we consider it a tool. It can help us, but currently, it needs to offer more value to launch it as a new product or to use it structurally as part of an existing product. We closely monitor developments, experiment regularly, and will adopt AI further when it benefits our organization."

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