Founded in 2012, Boulder-based Gloo is a technology platform provider for institutions championing personal growth, including churches, addiction recovery, mental health counseling, and family programs. Gloo offers its SaaS-based data and analytics platforms to North America’s market of 350,000 faith-based or parachurch organizations that traditionally have not been well-served by technology.
Gloo solutions allow those entities trying to serve their communities to bridge the difficult last mile connection to the specific people who are in need of their services. This is accomplished with the world’s first data solutions platform built to support personal growth and well-being by unlocking a 360-degree view of specific audiences.
For instance, government leaders in Kansas City recognized that lower- and middle-class residents were in a downward spiral in managing their finances and saw an increased dependence on government subsistence. The city used Gloo’s Insights+ tool to gain granular visibility and data-driven insights into the community. With quick and secure access to millions of data points and predictive intelligence, organizers were able to select and invite key residents to attend Financial Peace University, a 10-week David Ramsey program hosted by 100 area churches. The initiative helped families receive education about debt reduction and best practices for managing their finances. Gloo was also able to track the efficacy of the program, including the attendees’ progress using dashboards, statistics, and analytics. The project was a success and resulted in $18 million of debt reduction.
A church in Atlanta implemented Gloo’s Church Analytics application, which integrates into church management systems, to use algorithms to analyze tithing trends and identify new givers and those likely to churn. Gloo pinpointed 100 people in the 1,000-member congregation who appeared to be lapsed givers. As the church’s elder board reached out to these parishioners, they soon discovered their recent lack of involvement wasn’t due to problems with the church but was a result of personal hardship stemming from issues like job loss, chronic illness, or bereavement. This data allowed the church to uncover troublesome situations and offer support, deliver meals, or assist members by connecting them to appropriate resources to facilitate personal growth and help solve their problems.
Gloo’s Church Analytics application was using an old framework written in AngularJS and an architecture that was Web-based instead of cloud native. Gloo’s legacy application posed barriers to the company’s digital transformation goals as it was limiting agility and extensibility, and impacting reliability and developer efficiency.
Gloo’s COO, Bill Hippenmeyer, had developed a strong working relationship with SADA, the 2018 and 2019 Google Cloud Global Partner of the Year, during his previous role as a Global Director and Sales Engineer at Google. Having worked with SADA on several G Suite implementations and application development projects, he reached out for assistance with the Church Analytics application. “I thought, why not inject some SADA thinking here? I knew SADA was a very strong cloud-native developer, so I asked them what refactoring the application needed to look like and how to decouple this monolithic application into discrete containerized parts,” said Hippenmeyer.
Gloo also needed to move and refactor the underlying data pipeline and the ETL process to create the necessary data to support a new, more robust version of its Church Analytics application.
“SADA’s ability to go from zero to 60 in terms of understanding the problem we were trying to solve, to look at the architecture we were going from, and to propose an architecture that we should go to, were the main reasons why we chose to work with SADA.”Bill Hippenmeyer, COO, Gloo
To overcome the barriers posed by the legacy application and to support the future data analytics capabilities that Gloo desired, SADA transitioned the Church Analytics platform from Web 1.0 to a cloud-native architecture that is conducive to container-based mesh with Kubernetes or an Istio backend data mesh. SADA’s engagement with Gloo included:
- Rewriting frontend functionality in ReactJS
- Creating a middleware layer with Node and TypeScript
- Using GraphQL to aggregate data on the backend
- Matching UX design to the existing version in the market
SADA’s experts also provided hands-on consultation to help the Gloo team maximize the newly implemented technology. “I like to always have some percentage of my development resources coming from a third party that’s going to come in and challenge our ideas – someone who says, ‘Hey, here’s our best practice’ or ‘Here’s a method you may not be using.’ By engaging with SADA, we got more than refactoring. We got cloud-native consulting, a solid architectural perspective, and were introduced to different tools, techniques and ideas that challenged us to reevaluate some of the things we were doing so we can grow,” said Hippenmeyer.
Aaron Dix, Gloo’s Director of Data Engineering, served as the technology liaison with SADA throughout the six-month application development and professional services engagement.
“SADA provided amazing project management skills, and they always asked the right questions. They flew out to Colorado to sit at a table with us over the course of multiple days to go over what we needed to do to get the project completed. The SADA team’s flexibility and willingness to adjust and make minor changes enabled us to stay on track and move forward.”Aaron Dix, Director of Data Engineering, Gloo
With SADA’s help, Gloo was able to release Church Analytics 2.0 in March 2020. Already, the company has seamlessly converted the entire population of users onto the new stack. This upgraded system with enhanced functionality has been well-received and the number of customers has impressively grown from 1,000 churches to 18,000 churches in just the past six months.
With the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, Gloo has actively channeled its offerings to churches that are conducting online services due to social distancing measures. Gloo helps correlate online visitors and differentiate them from members while allowing churches to connect and digitally engage with visitors in a meaningful way. The company anticipates 100,000 organizations will be using some subset of Gloo technology by the end of 2020.
SADA’s custom application development and professional services enabled Gloo to:
- Future-proof the Church Analytics application and utilize the latest advances in the cloud
- Significantly improve the end-user experience and grow its user base
- Increase performance, speed, and agility by moving to a microservices architecture
- Boost developer efficiency
- Support more advanced data analytics capabilities
- Ensure an attractive UI and maintain a look and feel that’s consistent with the company’s other applications
- Maximize its cloud investment with expert consultation
“It has been a great partnership, and we worked really well together. We thank SADA big time and couldn’t have done it without them.”Aaron Dix, Director of Data Engineering, Gloo