Tech innovation at Tenzo

As Tenzo has grown as a company so has our tech capabilities. The platform that we originally designed 5 years ago bears almost no resemblance to what we have today. We’ve come on in leaps and bounds as we’ve expanded our developer team and grown to cater to more customers and integrations. Because of that, we’ve decided to launch the Tenzo Tech Blog so you can keep up to date with all our technical innovation.

Over the past 12 months, there’s been a lot of focus on lots of new and exciting initiatives. Firstly, we knew it was essential to remove as much technical debt as possible. This meant reviewing the very building blocks of Tenzo. To make sure we stood the test of time and were as resilient as possible, we re-wrote 80% of the Tenzo codebase to allow our developers more freedom to innovate rather than spending their time fixing bugs.

We then thought about how we could improve the platform for the three areas of growth we were seeing: enterprise business, new markets (dark kitchens & APAC), and SMBs. We wanted to make sure that we were able to grow and scale alongside our customers in those three categories.

So what have we done so far?

Enterprise initiatives

It’s no secret that introducing new technologies to enterprise businesses can be a difficult task. As such, we wanted to make it as easy as possible for large scale businesses to implement Tenzo. And as one of our values is to be a trusted partner, it was important to us that security teams at these companies could put their trust in us. We wanted to make it known that our security protocols exceed those in large corporations. To do both of these things, we focused on enabling single sign-on as well as doubling down on a sharded database.

Sharding

This is something we’ve been working on for a while but really came to a head during lockdown. In simple terms, this involves creating a database ‘shard’ where specific data lives. Databases are really just rows and columns of information (think your regular Excel spreadsheet). These databases need to be queried so that we can find the correct information needed (think control+f in a spreadsheet).

As we gather more and more data, there are more columns and rows for us to query which requires more power. Our databases live on virtual computers so we decide how much power to give them, but supplying that power is both expensive and not the most efficient use of those machines. Hence sharding.

Sharded databases Photo by Brett Sayles from Pexels

Sharding our database allows Tenzo to be infinitely scalable which means that we can handle any sized business and as much data as anyone would require.

These database shards also allow customers to keep their data in a separate shard. This becomes useful if you wish to ETL (extract, transform, load) your own data, add in your own data source or use an array of third party tools. Using Tenzo in the first place negates the need for this kind of manipulation for the vast majority of our customers, however, should they wish to do so, enterprise businesses with full data teams can use their shard to go even deeper into their data.

Single sign-on

Single sign-on is a way to use log on credentials for another platform as a kind of master password. Most users encounter this when they are able to sign in using their Google account credentials to non-Google sites. This means remembering less passwords and makes logging in to Tenzo a breeze by removing that extra step of remembering yet another password.

Tenzo single sign-on

Single sign-on also improves our onboarding time when we need to add a large amount of users (in the case of enterprise clients) at the same time.

We support single sign-on through Google, Azure, Apple and Okta.

Terraform

Terraform is an example of infrastructure as code. What this essentially means is that we have a way to replicate our infrastructure using coded files as opposed to having to rely on a user interface.

This has enabled us to define our entire platform in a way that is simply and easily understandable for anyone on the team. It also means that if we wanted to create a whole new version of Tenzo (for testing purposes for example), it’s easily done. This also allows us to add customer shards within the code.    

New markets

There are 2 areas where we’ve seen rapid expansion in the restaurant industry and that has been in the virtual kitchen space (dark, ghost or cloud kitchens) as well as in the Asia-Pacific region where restaurants don’t seem to have been affected as harshly by the pandemic as elsewhere.

In order to cater to more diverse businesses like dark or ghost kitchens as well as extend our reach to the APAC region we knew we would need to increase the number of integrations we had. That meant finding processes that would allow us to set up new integrations at much faster rates and with minimal errors.

Airflow 2.0

The first thing to do was find a way to access more data at a faster rate and more reliably. We came up with the concept of a ‘data manager’ to do this. It would allow us not only to access more data, but also enable re-running and re-importing data when needed. Airflow 2.0 is based on DAGs (basically if;then structures) which automates many of the tasks that have to be run on our servers. Airflow 2.0 makes it far easier to inspect the status of imports and find issues if something goes wrong.

Airflow 2.0

This is also an example of where Tenzo is at the cutting edge of technology. We’re lucky that we can pivot to new and better processes as they appear on the scene because we’ve always operated in the most efficient ways, letting us move at a very fast pace.

Read all about our Airflow 2.0 implementation in our dedicated tech blog.  

ETL tools

Beyond building our own integrations, we also want to give businesses the opportunity to build integrations that may not be in our pipeline but that would be useful for them. We have started providing the tools to extract, transform and load any data source so that customers can use Tenzo in the exact way they want. As for partners, some have already started pushing data into Tenzo using either our API or by sending data to an SFTP.

SMBs

SMBs are the very heart of Tenzo; we set out with a mission to give these businesses visibility over their data so they could make the most informed business decisions possible. As such, we wanted to make sure we continued to improve user experience for these core clients.

Most of us who use technology meant for consumers are used to having the autonomy to make changes to settings and views as we see fit and as we’ve grown bigger and bigger it has become clear that smaller customers want the same out of Tenzo. To enable this, we’ve been working on 2 initiatives: self-serve and card creation.

Self-serve

We want to make it as easy as possible for customers to sign up to and manage their Tenzo accounts. This means needing to automate the process as much as possible. The idea is that a customer should be able to create a Tenzo account and then connect all of their various data sources including POS, labour scheduler and inventory system in a simple and easy way.

Tenzo data manager

We’ve also increased our self-serve tools across the platform making it incredibly simple to add new users, set up permissions (eg what cards are visible at each level of the business) and load budgets. These give customers the freedom to set up their accounts in the way that best fit their needs. In the long term, we want customers with relatively uncomplicated setups to be able to do everything themselves without having to speak to a customer success rep at Tenzo.

Creating custom report cards

The cards feature is easily a favourite for Tenzo customers. The ability to see the exact KPIs that matter most to their business as soon as they open the app has been a real selling point for many businesses. While we can create bespoke cards for customers, it does involve them getting in touch with support. Our new card builder will eliminate that need.

Tenzo card creator

Customers will be able to choose what metrics they would like to compare in a simple interface, building specific cards for specific functions of their business. We completely understand that a finance director may need to see different metrics than a GM working on the floor and we want to be able to service both of their needs. And of course, these cards can also be sent as emails on whatever schedule is preferred.  

Tenzo dashboard creator

Conclusion

We’ve been pretty busy this past year and wanted to share all of our new developments with you. For more in-depth deep dives into each of these topics, head over to our tech blog where we’ll be releasing articles on how we approached each of these topics.

If you would like to find out more about how Tenzo could be used in your business, please feel free to request a demo.

Cover photo by Evgeny Tchebotarev from Pexels

Posted in Technology