Talend Data Integration knows how to handle any data format, via a rich range of connectors, which saves time in the development phase. Moreover, thanks to the Talend user community, this range continues to grow day after day. In the event of the absence of a connector, we have the option of developing it ourselves thanks to the solution’s openness and our Java skills.Jérôme Sabot, Head of IT and Organization at Auxiliaire
A mutual insurance company for building and public works professionals, Auxiliaire was founded in 1863 and offers a full range of occupational insurance for companies in the industry. A leader in construction insurance in the southeast quarter of France, the company today has close to 10,000 members, for which it guarantees and insures all occupational and private risks via an array of simple and personalized products. With 190 employees and 12 offices in 13 French departments, Auxiliaire earned a total revenue of 131.2 million euro in 2009 and a net profit of 8.7 million euro.
Make data transfers reliable, while minimizing risks
Just like all of the companies in the banking/insurance industry, almost all of Auxiliaire’s business processes rely on one or more information systems. Due to the constant surfacing of new regulatory limitations, these systems have to be monitored more strictly – the history of each transaction must be “traceable” at any time. As a specialist in occupational hazards, Auxiliaire is well positioned to be aware of the dangers of any potential operational and IT malfunctioning to which it could be exposed.
“Upon taking office in early 2009, I proposed an IT master plan to bring together our business and the IT department – which was too often relegated to a purely technical role. To gain relevance, it was essential for the department to intervene more upstream and participate in discussions regarding the company’s business processes,” comments Jérôme Sabot, Head of IT and Organization at Auxiliaire. “This led us to reflect on how we could better urbanize our information system and select tools that are capable of helping us achieve this goal.”
In terms of data integration, three main components attracted the attention of the IT department. Firstly, by establishing a more narrow interleaving of various applications (CRM, business intelligence, finance, HR, etc.) and the central contract management application (AS/400), Auxiliaire wanted to reduce discontinuity risks by automating transfers as much as possible, while improving operational monitoring. At the same time, facing the company’s business development inspired by diversification logic, the IT department had to prepare to manage more data exchanges, particularly with partners. Finally, considering the profound changes in the industry, the company strived, as we have seen, to minimize operational and IT risks, while preparing the implementation of new regulations such as the European directive Solvency II.
Talend Data Integration to urbanize the information system
To respond to its BI needs, Auxiliaire had been using the Sunopsis ETL since 2004. Following the acquisition of this technology by Oracle, Sunopsis’ outlook and business policy were put into question, which urged Auxiliaire to find an alternative more suited to its requirements.
“We conducted a comparative study that led to us choosing Talend Data Integration as our primary urbanization tool. We have gradually recovered all of the Sunopsis jobs, while initiating new projects, including CRM,” explains Jérôme Sabot. “While we initially tested Talend Open Studio for Data Integration, we ultimately adopted Talend Data Integration after considering various issues: the sharing of the development environment between several developers (Talend offers a shared repository), flow monitoring and supervision (Talend’s administrative environment seemed very powerful to us) and flow automation (with similar economic conditions, Talend’s product offers flexibility that is far superior to the other offers tested).”
When making its choice, Auxiliaire also considered the scalability of Talend’s solutions, considered superior to the other solutions tested; the quality of Talend’s support services, particularly in helping to integrate the AS/400 application and develop test scenarios; and finally the openness of Talend’s solutions, which facilitates custom developments without requiring specialized skills.
“Today, the recovery of existing BI flows is practically complete. We have also completed the recovery of interapplication exchanges, and Talend Data Integration helps us update the flows. Finally, we also have recovered the data exchange flows with our partners and we are preparing to create many more. We are now entering the implementation phase of the supervision system which will eventually enable us to improve the circulation of information, while better controlling operational risks,” adds Jérôme Sabot.
In all, fifty flows are now operated via Talend Data Integration and eventually that number will reach 200. They mainly relate to BI activities (operational management through reports and dashboards created on predefined queries and accessible via a portal), CRM and management control (analyses and simulations).
Scalability, performance and support
In terms of benefits, Auxiliaire stresses the functional wealth and scalability of Talend’s solution. “Talend Data Integration knows how to handle any data format, via a rich range of connectors, which saves time in the development phase. Moreover, thanks to the Talend user community, this range continues to grow day after day. In the event of the absence of a connector, we have the option of developing it ourselves thanks to the solution’s openness and our Java skills,” says Jérôme Sabot.
Meanwhile, Auxiliaire appreciates the performance of the solution. "Some processing jobs recovered by Talend operate much faster than before. BI data warehouse loading jobs that required 3 hours in the past are now completed in under 30 minutes, enabling us to shorten the processing time and take advantage of the time saved to improve the quality of service,” continues Jérôme Sabot.
Finally, Auxiliaire believes that Talend support services are standing up to the company’s expectations. “Overall, Talend’s support services are a real plus: the company worked with us during the development phase and offered us solutions that we had not even imagined, and in addition to this, we have no difficulty quickly obtaining the information that we are looking for to improve operation. Today, we consider Talend a true partner and its community is an invaluable source of information. Talend Data Integration is now at the heart of our information system urbanization project,” concludes Jérôme Sabot.