The Economist Intelligence Unit had a wealth of valuable content which their existing customers loved, but it was hard to attract new customers with their existing legacy software’s performance, look and feel. They needed to build a new flagship digital product which put customer experience at its heart and combined the wealth of data, analysis and insights at their fingertips into one integrated solution. To achieve this they engaged 67 Bricks to co-develop EIU Viewpoint.
Step one – testing the waters
To kickstart the project we built a smaller site, Viewswire, which showed the latest articles for each country and had a search feature rebuilt from scratch using Elasticsearch, a highly scalable open-source full-text search engine. The development was led by 67 Bricks working with the EIU Head of Engineering and a team of EIU developers.
This successful build demonstrated within EIU that their technical team, with 67 Bricks’ support, could deliver high-quality software to match their high-quality content. Work could now begin on a new flagship product.
Step two – Co-developing Viewpoint
Following the success of Viewswire we were able to start collaborating on a new flagship product, ‘Viewpoint’. Viewpoint combined several separate but linked products, including Viewswire, into one cohesive user experience and combined both articles (building on the Viewswire architecture) and data series to provide a fully integrated new offering. Once built other products have since been migrated to the underlying platform developed for Viewpoint.
To accelerate development, the team split into two; one building the Analysis website for articles, and one building the Data website. We worked closely with EIU product managers to deliver by the deadline both working sites, with links between them, each showcasing the EIU’s content of news articles, analysis, reports and data charts and tables in a responsive, accessible, quick website.
We isolated the new technology from the old, including integrating authentication via LibLynx, so that the Viewpoint websites kept running even if the legacy software and database were unavailable. A key part of our success was building a replacement website that was small enough to deliver quickly (and hence get user feedback to improve it), and large enough to make customers want to migrate from the old site to the new. We worked with EIU to ensure we had the right features to allow all new customers to be able to use the site, while migrating existing customers over.
This was a true co-development project, with teams communicating daily on Slack and Trello, with daily joint stand-ups introduced later on. There was reciprocal code review, the team were encouraged to talk openly and there was a real sense of shared trust and understanding of the business goal between the 67 Bricks and EIU developers.
EIU Viewpoint launched successfully with a number of market-leading services to support EIU’s customers, including;
- Country Analysis, enabling users to delve into the pressing issues across countries and industries with a combination of data and explanations from EIU experts
- Financial Risk, combining EIU’s market-leading data and country expertise in a rigorous risk-modelling framework, enabling users to accurately identify sovereign, currency and banking sector risks posed by political and economic developments across 131 markets.
- Operational Risk, enabling customers to identify, compare and mitigate operational risk across 180 markets with expert analysis and data covering current and future risk factors and implications for business strategy.
The product is now well established, but this doesn’t mean that the teams have stopped iterating in line with customer needs. Those developments have ranged from functionality to support users, such as extending the public API to allow customers to easily integrate analysis and data into their workflows, to providing real-time responses to global and political events. For example, at the outbreak of the Russian-Ukraine conflict, EIU and 67 Bricks added a new theme page, with customised content and a search, together with a banner, so that users could easily access this information from the homepage.
EIU Viewpoint has been adopted by all EIU clients and it has a significant impact on their business decision-making. It also enables EIU to provide its new customers with everything they need in their strategic planning and business development.