The authors would like to thank Ratchanon Suwanwichai, Senior Cloud Engineer, OCI and Sutas Kamolpalawat (Tas), IT Manager, Forth Smart, for their contributions.
Forth Smart Service Public Company Limited is a conglomerate located in Thailand. Forth Smart offers a wide range of services for several communities in the country with business partners that include 7-Eleven, Tesco Lotus, Family Mart, and PTT-Jiffy. Forth Smart is primarily a service provider for pre-paid mobile payments, online payments, and advertising services via intelligent kiosks under the trademark “Boonterm”. Forth Smart has more than 130,000 vending kiosks located in local bodegas, schools, even in fishing villages and local community centers. With these kiosks, people can bring cash to top off prepaid mobile phones or fund E-wallet apps like Apple Pay or Google Pay. The company processes millions of transactions daily.
Recently, Forth Smart has expanded on its “Boonterm Kiosk” services by introducing its “Boonterm Counter Service” product. This product ensures the highest satisfaction for customers, particularly those who expect to see greater variety and convenience of bill payments. With the effective development of the Boonterm Counter Service, Forth Smart is ready to demonstrate its leadership of counter service provider to highly satisfy all consumer demands.
Challenges and goals for cloud migration
Prior to adopting OCI, Forth Smart had visibility to sales and financial reports but used tedious manual processes for retrieval and analysis. As a result, executives were not able to make immediate decisions crucial to the business. One reason for these challenges: Forth Smart did not have the tools necessary to ingest data from its production system to its data warehouse, a process that required manual data extraction. In addition, its data warehouse was an old, legacy on-premises system which lacked the ability to scale when needed.
Forth Smart was looking for a cloud provider that offered Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), analytics, and machine learning services. The company had the following goals for its cloud migration:
- Achieve data visibility, visualization, and real-time insights
- Automate database maintenance and management
- Gain access to analytical and machine learning tools, including dashboards and real-time analytics
- Enable LOBs and executives (MD, CFO) to make real-time, immediate business decisions
Suite of Oracle products used
Oracle Cloud Infrastructure: Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) is a comprehensive platform of public cloud services that enables customers to build and run a wide range of applications in a scalable, secure, highly available, and high-performance environment. OCI has all the services you need to migrate, build, and run all of your IT, from existing enterprise workloads to new cloud native applications and data platforms.
Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse: Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse is a fully automated cloud database service optimized for analytic workloads, including data marts, data warehouses, and data lakes. It is preconfigured with columnar format partitioning, and large joins to simplify and accelerate database provisioning, extracting, loading, and transforming data; running sophisticated reports; generating predictions; and creating machine learning models.
Oracle Analytics: The Oracle Analytics platform is a cloud-native service that provides the capabilities required to address the entire analytics process from data ingestion and modeling, through data preparation and enrichment, to visualization and collaboration without compromising security and governance. Embedded machine learning and natural language processing technologies help increase productivity to build an analytics-driven culture in organizations.
Oracle Machine Learning: Machine Learning in Oracle Database supports data exploration, preparation, and machine learning models at scale using SQL, R, Python, REST, AutoML, and no-code interfaces.
Oracle GoldenGate: OCI GoldenGate is a managed service providing a real-time data mesh platform, which uses replication to keep data highly available, and enabling real-time analysis. Customers can design, execute, and monitor their data replication and stream data processing solutions without the need to allocate or manage compute environments.
Technical implementation on OCI
The architecture used by Forth Smart is shown in the diagram below:
As shown above, the company uses a hybrid cloud deployment compromising on-premises datacenters and OCI:
Top Up is a custom application runs on the Boonterm kiosks (see figure 1). These kiosks allow people to top-up minutes for their mobile phone plans and access other financial services, such as bank withdrawals. compliance reasons, Forth Smart keeps customer data in on-premises using Oracle Database.
Autonomous Data Warehouse (ADW) in the public cloud is used to store and query data that’s replicated from Top Up application using Oracle GoldenGate Cloud Service. In addition, Forth Smart uses machine learning algorithms inside ADW to do market segmentation and ad targeting.
Oracle Analytics Cloud (OAC) is used for executive dashboards, including projections of daily revenue/profit for each Boon Term location and transactions per day across various locations. The company utilizes built-in machine learning capabilities of OAC such as Auto Insight.
Golden Gate Cloud Service (GGCS) is used to replicate data from Oracle Database deployed on-premises to Autonomous Data Warehouse in OCI.
Object Storage is used for backups of data stored in the Autonomous Data Warehouse.
Forth Smart’s migration from its existing on-premises system to OCI resulted in increased performance, costs savings, improved engineering support, advanced analytical capabilities, and automated database administration. OCI provides the necessary automation to retrieve data in real-time, Oracle Autonomous Datawarehouse reduces manual database administration, and Oracle Analytics Cloud enables analysts to easily create reports and visualizations.
In terms of performance, Forth Smart leveraged Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse running on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure to reduce average query time from three hours to 2 minutes. Additionally, Forth Smart improved its customer advertisement conversion rates by 3X. In terms of costs, Forth Smart reduced costs for IT and database administration since Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse did not require database administrator. Additionally, Forth Smart was able to reduce their capital expenditure cost by moving a significant amount of workloads to the cloud.
Another one of the major benefits Forth Smart realized with OCI was advanced analytical capabilities with Oracle Analytics. Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse and Oracle Analytics give Forth Smart the ability to have real-time, analytics insights into its network of 120,000+ kiosks. With Oracle’s machine learning, Forth Smart can now segment its customers and send targeted ads instead of advertising to everyone in the whole database, which was ineffective and costly. Oracle Analytics also enables business analysts to apply machine learning algorithms to understand customer segments and predict how an offer will fare – resulting in doubling the ad conversion rate. Lastly, Forth Smart can now give its business LOBs to gain access to real-time data and analytics, enabling them to make real-time business decisions, which was previously a challenge with Excel spreadsheets.
Forth Smart has more marketing use cases that will leverage its existing data management capabilities and new integration tools. The company plans to move its existing workloads from Ashburn to Singapore to reduce network latency. Use these resources to learn more about Forth Smart and OCI:
Forth Smart connects rural economies using Oracle Cloud
Forth Smart runs 120,000 bank kiosks in Thailand. They use machine learning in Autonomous Data Warehouse to improve advertising targeting.