WeWork scales secure data collaboration across 4,000+ employees with Fivetran

Shared workspace provider uses Fivetran to reliably and securely enable data-driven business agility while meeting the compliance needs of a publicly-traded company.

Key results:

  • Meet rigorous regulatory compliance demands of a publicly-traded company 
  • Ensure data governance across disparate sources and silos
  • Empower business agility through the use of data
  • Create a culture of data literacy and innovation
  • Fivetran saves WeWork hundreds of engineering hours per month

Data Stack:

  • Pipeline: Fivetran
  • Connectors: Postgres, MySQL, Salesforce, Pardot, Mandrill, Zendesk, Bing Ads, Appsflyer, Intercom, Google Sheets, Confluent, Airtable, Stripe, Aurora and more
  • Destination: Snowflake 
  • Cloud Service Provider: AWS, GCP

Building the future of work

WeWork was founded in 2010 with the vision to create environments where people and companies come together and do their best work. The global flexible office space provider now manages more than 50 million square feet of office space and went public in 2021, cementing a vision for the future of work and the global workplace.

But critical to WeWork’s core value proposition isn’t just Class A real estate – it’s also how the business leverages data to make smarter decisions.

As Senior Manager of Data Engineering at WeWork, Lucianne Millan is responsible for ensuring team members across the organization, from Marketing and Sales to Finance and Human Resources, have reliable, rapid access to the data they need. WeWork’s data is now an asset that the business uses as a competitive advantage, enabling employees to navigate the challenges associated with accelerated growth, a fast-moving real-estate market and the rigorous regulation that comes with going public.

“Working with terabytes of data, making sense of it and putting in the correct context is one of the most important things we can do,” Lucianne says. “This allows employees from across the organization to create valuable insights into how we work, engage with partners and deliver services across our customer base. Every decision we make is driven by data.”

Establishing a culture of data governance

While WeWork’s data team has always had governance in mind, the business now faces a stricter compliance landscape as a publicly traded company. Rather than just pull in data and provide access, WeWork has to track data movement and user access over time — proving to auditors and regulators that it is keeping customer information safe from internal and external threats.

Fivetran makes it easier for Lucianne and her team to maintain data governance and compliance, ingesting data from hundreds of cloud-based and on-premise sources into Snowflake. Fivetran provides a formalized framework to pull in this data with a historical record of what and when data has been ingested, including any changes to the database and who has access. It’s also easy to show that the dataset is complete — which is important when tracking reservations, inventory and other metrics.

“First and foremost, our data pipeline has to work,” Lucianne says. “Fivetran allows us to automate and formalize the process and give us an end-to-end audit trail. We also need to prove we have good data governance throughout our data lifecycle. Fivetran provides all of this and more, giving us the peace of mind that we’re making data-driven decisions for the business and we can ensure our customers, regulators and the public that we are doing right by them.”

Asking all the right questions

Stakeholders from across the company now have reliable, secure and trackable access to critical business information that helps them optimize the way they work and interact with customers.

For example, Fivetran pulls data from Postgres databases at each WeWork location and consolidates it in Snowflake. Standardizing this information in a central location in the cloud gives stakeholders real-time insight into occupancy, turnover, outstanding renewals, member growth and profit margins per location, per region and holistically across the company. This visibility allows WeWork community managers, the senior leadership team and even investors to see what’s working and what’s not, so they can draw specific conclusions about contributing factors and prioritize resources to replicate success across locations.

Fivetran also ingests data from Salesforce and WeWork’s proprietary billing solution into Snowflake. Using dbt, the Data Engineering team connects and merges records, such as disparate accounts from different business units and subsidiaries into parent companies. This provides deeper visibility into WeWork’s relationship with these larger organizations, which then informs the sales and marketing teams who are targeting those accounts. They can easily ask questions such as: Is the relationship with this customer growing or shrinking? Are there other business units that we should approach? Can we leverage existing happy customers within an organization to use as a reference? WeWork can use these insights to grow business in the most efficient, optimal manner.

Driving security at scale

Delivered as a service, Fivetran eliminates the need for WeWork engineers to build, manage and secure the data connectors themselves — a process that Yong Lu, Staff Data Engineer, says would take several months initially and require hundreds of engineering hours per month. Multiplied by hundreds of connectors, it’s easy to see the time and corresponding cost savings that Fivetran provides at scale.

Then there are the security and compliance benefits: Fivetran’s VPN tunneling capabilities, for example, allow Yong to meet strict access-control requirements.

“Security is only as strong as your weakest point,” Yong says. “There’s so much sensitive data passing through our pipeline that needs to be protected with the highest security standards — such as SOC 2 Type II and ISO 27001 certifications.”

The ability to automatically ingest data from hundreds of sources with enterprise scale and security through Fivetran allows WeWork to instill a data-driven culture across everything it does without putting the publicly-traded company at risk. Lucianne’s team even built a Data Ambassador program that trains community managers and other employees how to use data effectively. WeWork employees are given the tools and knowledge to dive into the data themselves in whatever way they see fit, with the proper access and security controls to ensure they can only access data they have a right to.

The future of work is happening right now, and WeWork is leading this movement. If you’re interested in joining Lucianne’s rapidly growing data team, reach out on LinkedIn or browse WeWork’s open technology positions here.

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