Make Better Decisions, Faster, by Enabling Self-Service Data

Phillip Lee

Principal Product Owner, Growth and Martech at SoFi

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5 -minute Read,

Posted on January 21, 2021

When good data gets into the hands of great people, companies can realize amazing business outcomes.

The road to better decision-making begins with enabling self-service access to data. When various team members have data in front of them, they can have informed conversations about the reality that the data represents. When good data gets into the hands of great people, companies can realize amazing business outcomes.

SoFi has always been driven by the idea of providing good information to good people. Where many companies are driven by profit, SoFi has been mission-driven from the start: initially setting out to help students with their student loans. Since then, the mission has expanded to include a full suite of financial products to help people achieve financial independence, which means improving financial literacy and providing people with the tools to make smart financial decisions. Everything we do focuses on our members, who are much more than customers. They are an integral part of our organization and know that we are here to take care of them.

Just before I came to SoFi in late 2019, our product line grew dramatically. We went from only offering lending products—student, personal, and home loans—to introducing many new products: SoFi Money, a deposit account; SoFi Invest, for all-in-one investing; Protect, for insurance; Relay, for budgeting and credit-score monitoring; and the SoFi credit card

The more #data is accessible to everyone, the better #business decisions they can make across teams. Click To Tweet

We have some non-technical team members who had never heard of SQL until my training session with them. Being able to generate a report and segment by user attributes or other factors with just a few clicks has changed their world, and accelerated their processes. Not only has Amplitude made data self-serve, it has increased the velocity of our data feedback loops, which in turn leads to better, faster decision-making, whether it be about the product, marketing, or operations. 

Establish a Good Framework from the Start

Part of my work is keeping the data clean, and we also use Amplitude for data governance. Data management is an ongoing project at SoFi, which is good, because it means we’re growing. Amplitude is another tool in our toolbox to help us maintain clear, trustworthy data. Being able to visually see new events load in real time makes it easy to manage and make necessary adjustments without burdening our engineering team. 

We faced a particular challenge with the explosion of data from new products. My suggestion for anyone about to experience similar growth is to establish your taxonomy from the start. Get everyone speaking the same language about your data, even for something as simple as naming events. 

If you’re an e-commerce company, your funnel might be pretty straightforward. But if you’re anything like SoFi, with nine primary funnels and an additional 60 secondary funnels, it’s much more complicated. Setting those foundations right—your instrumentation, your taxonomy, your process for data governance—early on will set you up for success down the line. For us, Amplitude played a critical part in building that foundation.

Translating Data Into ROI

Many companies say they’re data-driven, but the speed to insights also matters, and Amplitude enables us to make decisions faster across teams. I think a great example of that is from our marketing team. If a campaign isn’t performing well, it’s better to know that sooner rather than later, so you can turn off that campaign and reallocate that spend. Wait two weeks to learn that the campaign is performing poorly, and you’ve wasted money that could’ve been better spent elsewhere. That is the tangible ROI impact of having real-time feedback that allows non-technical teams to be agile and responsive, recalibrating and optimizing as necessary. 

The speed of data matters. Having real-time feedback allows non-technical teams to be agile and responsive. Click To Tweet

The same benefits we’ve seen from faster feedback loops in our campaigns apply to product experimentation or feature launches. If we’re testing two different landing pages, we can easily see the results in Amplitude, and answer much deeper questions than we could with competing tools. Many tools are limited in that they can only track the next action, like whether a person clicked through, but they don’t track actions further down the funnel. 

With Amplitude, we can see not just whether the person clicked through, but whether they continued from that first step to actually receive a funded loan. Knowing the latter is of tremendous value to us. Having that level of granularity and insight into our experimentation leads to better experimentation practices that ultimately drive a bigger impact to the business.

Bringing Everyone up to Speed

Building a data-informed culture is an ongoing project, and SoFi relies on Amplitude as a trusted partner on this journey. As far as we’ve come, we’ve barely scratched the surface when it comes to maximizing Amplitude’s impact. 

Our most-used Amplitude features are event reporting and funnel reports. I’ve dug deep into Amplitude’s other features and capabilities, though, and there’s so much more we will be doing with tools like Pathfinder, Personas, or Impact Analysis. Once our users become a little more advanced, I want us all to take these next steps together.

There’s a lot more value to be unlocked with Amplitude, for individual teams and for SoFi as a whole. The cross-team collaborative aspect of Amplitude helps us all better understand the holistic journey of SoFi’s members, and make decisions from the same set of information. With this in our pocket, we can in turn create more value for our members, and give them the services they need to manage their money wisely.

Phillip Lee

Phillip Lee is a Principal Product Owner at SoFi leading the Martech and Growth Technologies team. He previously led Digital Product Growth globally for Western Union.

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