Home Case Studies Databand - The Weather Company Improving ML engineering with data observability
The Weather Company + IBM Databand
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The team and project

Qaish Kanchwala is a Machine Learning (ML) Engineering Manager at The Weather Company®. He manages a team of eight engineers, including DevOps, ML and data engineers. They’re responsible for building and training the ML models used in production for The Weather Company. Most of his responsibilities involve designing solutions for the engineering team and making sure the work gets done on time.

The Weather Company has moved toward being a data-first organization. For Kanchwala’s team, this means working with data on ML use cases for customer advertising, personalization and health conditions predictions. Since the future state of advertising no longer relies on cookies or other identifiers, his team uses data to predict user segments. These user segments are then used for various advertising campaigns.

Without an operational view such as Databand’s, it would be extremely hard to understand the overall health of our ML pipelines. The integration of availability tracking and aggregated metrics from Airflow has been super useful. I appreciate looking at Databand and seeing the Airflow data within one dashboard. Qaish Kanchwala Machine Learning (ML) Engineering Manager The Weather Company
The problem

The accuracy of these user segments can have an impact on revenue generation, so it’s critical that Kanchwala and his team are using the most accurate data, optimized for these campaigns. For example, less accuracy in the models could result in an advertising campaign that under-indexes to the segment the customer aims to reach or that does not reach the intended audience segment.

Since they use data pipelines such as Apache Airflow and Sagemaker to make these model predictions, the pipelines need to be reliable, and the data needs to be accurate.

“For our perspective, a lot of business decisions are being made on the segments and predictions that we make,” says Kanchwala. “As we built these segments, we strive to ensure that the data going into the prediction pipelines are accurate so that the predictions coming out of those pipelines are accurate. Any loss of accuracy here could impact someone’s business decisions or bottom line.”

Like for most data and ML engineering teams, it was challenging to track model performance over time and input proactive alerting to be notified when changes occur. If his team is unaware of data issues, then a customer could be making decisions using predictions based on outdated or less relevant data.

The solution

These challenges led The Weather Company to implement IBM® Databand® software as its data observability solution. Databand helps the company proactively resolve data issues before they may impact the business.

Before Databand,  Kanchwala’s team lacked a complete monitoring tool to track data drift over time. The limited number of alerts and reports they did have required a lot of manual intervention.

“We have looked into using other tools, but at the end of the day they didn’t fit into our data engineering process for lineage,” says  Kanchwala. “Other tools might be great for application or memory monitoring but not for data pipelines.”

The team uses Databand’s “always-on” data monitoring capabilities to track data drift overtime for their ML features and model outputs. From a data engineering perspective, Databand shows data pipeline lineage and the impact analysis during run-time.

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The results

Since using Databand, the data and ML engineering team improved their data lineage and SLA tracking.

“Without an operational view such as Databand’s, it would be extremely hard to understand the overall health of our ML pipelines,” says  Kanchwala. “The integration of availability tracking and aggregated metrics from Airflow has been super useful. I appreciate looking at Databand and seeing the Airflow data within one dashboard.”

Overall, The Weather Company has improved its data engineering KPIs with:

  • Continuous visibility and transparency: Databand’s operational view instantly shows the health of its Apache Airflow and Sagemaker pipelines.
  • Improved SLA alerting and metrics tracking: The Weather Company has implemented Databand as a “quality gate” before pushing changes to production. This forces data and ML engineers to perform a mandatory quality check in development before pushing ahead into production.
  • Data quality monitoring: Since Databand integrates with any Apache Airflow environments, data engineers can see exactly which step causes a data incident and resolve it quicker.
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This is an SVG format of the weather company logo, to be used on The Environmental Intelligence suite webpage.
About The Weather Company

The Weather Company is the world’s leading weather provider1, helping people and businesses make more informed decisions and take action in the face of weather. The Weather Company’s high-volume weather data, insights, advertising and media solutions across the open web help people, businesses and brands around the world prepare for and harness the power of weather in a scalable, privacy-forward way.

According to Comscore, The Weather Channel was the largest provider of weather forecasts worldwide (web and app) in 2022 based on the average of the total monthly unique visitors. Comscore Media Metrix®, Worldwide Rollup Media Trend, News/Information – Weather category incl. The [M] Weather Channel, The, Jan-Dec. 2022 avg

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Produced in the United States of America, December 2023.

IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, and Databand are trademarks or registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation, in the United States and/or other countries. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on ibm.com/legal/copyright-trademark.

Autobrand®, Cloud and Rainbow™ device, Icebreaker Studios®, Social®and device, The Lift™, The Weather Company®, The Weather Company®and device, The Weather Underground®, TWC®,  Weather Bonk®, Weather Exchange®, Weather FX and device™, Weather Means Business®, Weather Quickie®, Weather Underground®, Weather.com®, WeatherFX®, WU®, WU® and device, Wunderground™, Wunderground.com®, Wundermap®, and Wunderradio® are trademarks or registered trademarks of TWC Product and Technology, LLC, an IBM Company.

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