The Genesis of the ACTIVENet Hub

CTO Stacey Fernandes shares her career journey and how ACTIVENet Data Hub came to be.
min read
Product Blog
Stacey Fernandes, Chief Technical Officer

People have passions, it is what we like to call an ACTIVE.  

In many cases, an ACTIVE is a sport, hobby, art or music. Anyone who knows me, knows that my ACTIVE is data. Simply put, I am fascinated at how data can fuel a company’s growth. It is an asset that compounds more data results with more information, which results in a better products and in turn results in more data.  

Back in the old days, I started my career in technology as a database engineer. I learned MS Access and Sybase, and I was hooked. During the late 90s and early 2000s, technology was all about the software and there was a very distinct separation between us beeper-wearing-server-data-folk and software engineers. Build the software and sell it. Simple.  

As the dot-com boom continued and web applications matured, data-driven functionality and the idea of non-tangible assets came to the forefront.  

I was offered a position at a startup called Monster where I was tasked to build a data warehouse. All the resumes from job seekers and job data from employers revolutionized how the world found employment. Frankly, I was downright giddy about the idea of being able to connect the perfect job to the perfect candidate and I spent the majority of my time at Monster finding new ways to use the data to accomplish the company’s mission.  

Needless to say, the data age has resulted in an explosion of data across the world and the it has become an art being able to take all that data and turn it into consumable, useful information that can transform as fast as the systems that generate it. This became a challenge that geeks like me were on a mission to solve. The number of “easy to use” data wrangling and visualization software services to manage data were multiplying faster than E. Coli (every 20 minutes in case you were wondering) and it was dizzying. I found no single product that was the end all solution as so many claimed to be at the time. The innovation, however, was certainly encouraging.  

Coming to ACTIVE was a natural progression for me. Like Monster, there were both B2B and B2C solutions with another valiant mission —helping  people find their best passion, their best ACTIVE.  

I thought if I can build solutions to find someone the right job at Monster, I can certainly build solutions to help people find the right race, class, hobby, school or league, etc. My team and I jumped in with both feet.

Thousands of databases of transactions, activities and events sourcing into single streaming, cloud-based data factory became the ACTIVE Data Platform. This platform provided, and continues to provide, the company with the near real-time, accurate data needed to produce information necessary to make the best business decisions, a stellar search engine, track growth, understand digital analytics, build privacy solutions, and create predictive modeling and sales forecasts. With the ACTIVE Data Platform the possibilities are endless.  

I soon realized that while we were able to solve the problem for ACTIVE with a team of technologists, we had yet to provide simple, easy, accurate, near-real-time secure access to data for our customers.  

The unique thing about ACTIVE’s customer base is that they are extremely dedicated to their work. They strive for the greater good, to make lives better with a strong sense of community—it is quite inspiring. YMCAs want to know who to market to and when —they want to know why members leave and how best to engage little minds in their after school programs. Local public sectors want to understand who is at a facility and identify where there is need for services in their community. Camp directors need to understand what classes and sessions are most effective. Race directors want to keep their athletes engaged with the coolest of events. Virtually all ACTIVE’s clients engage in charitable giving in some manner and need to know on which doors to knock. Additionally, most of ACTIVE’s customers want to integrate their data with other technology solutions in their ecosystem.  

The Sobering Reality

The needs of ACTIVE’s customers are diverse and reports just aren’t enough.  

APIs were partially meeting the needs as long as ACTIVE’s customers had techs on hand to call those APIs and manage storing the payloads. Database backups were slow, not secure and required technical expertise and a deep understanding of ACTIVE’s systems business logic and infrastructure. Also, ACTIVE’s customers’ visualization expertise ranges from MS Excel to Power BI and Tableau.

My new mission was clear.  I had give to ACTIVE’s customers what I was able to provide for ACTIVE. Near real time, accurate data, fully hosted and secure on a platform that allowed authorized users to access their data to drive growth for their organization anyway they needed to. Their data, their way, on their terms.  

The Answer : ACTIVENet Hub  

The ACTIVE Data platform now has offspring! By adopting a microservices approach, ACTIVE is able offer a data service that requires nothing more than your favorite visualization client, or analysis tool, and a connection string. ACTIVE does the rest.  

The idea of taking a traditional business and transforming it to a big data industry is incredible.  Think about how data has transformed banking, agriculture, real estate, telco and health care. There are so many more. If ACTIVE’s enterprise data team can transform communities into a big data entities using the ACTIVENet Hub, my work may be finished—or maybe not.  

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Stacey Fernandes
ACTIVE Network's Chief Data Officer
October 15, 2020
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