Ticketmaster tackles tech debt with streaming data platform

Online box office takes data science enterprise-wide without rewriting all its code.

Ticketmaster tackles tech debt with streaming data platform
Thinkstock

When Chris Smith joined Ticketmaster as vice president of data science, the 40-year-old event ticketing business was facing unique challenges in its data-science program.

“We had tech debt that was older than most of the companies I’d worked at,” he says.

Ticketmaster had achieved early data-science successes through custom data integrations with its various IT systems — and there were plenty of those. After 40 years of acquisitions and internal software development, the company had around 300 IT systems, each on its own island of data.

With its move into new markets such as ticket resale and the provision of management and reporting tools for venues, Ticketmaster needed a way to integrate these data silos and make its data available to the entire organization, without rewriting all of its software.

“We needed a lingua franca that we could teach each of the different systems, that would be just a small amount of work in order to get data out of that system and available to everyone,” says Smith. And that change had to be made with minimal disruption to the existing systems. “One of the dangers of taking an old system and applying it to a new problem is that it’s a bad design fit,” he says. “It actually makes the system more unstable, less performant and also more difficult to evolve over time.”

To continue reading this article register now

7 secrets of successful remote IT teams