At the outset, we took a risk - albeit calculated - because Talend had neither the reputation nor references that the company boasts today. We tested the performance of the solution while increasing internal skills, so much so that today we have deployed it in a second platform (the first being equipped with Linux, this one runs in Windows).Nicolas Giard, Managing Director of Conexance MD
Launched in April 2006, Conexance MD is a direct marketing company specializing in database marketing that is positioned in the client knowledge market. It manages the first aggregated database dedicated to distance shopping and electronic commerce: “VAD Alliance”. Its data mining expertise, based on proprietary statistic models, enables catalogues and VAD Alliance website members to track the online and offline transactions of distance buyer profiles that correspond with their offers. The Conexance MD system provides strong productivity gains in the prospection and loyalty phases.
Conexance MD, which has an annual growth of 40%, recently launched the publication of SaaS marketing software and today offers a reporting and development solution, primarily designed for e-commerce (CONEX View) and a solution for managing scenario-automated campaigns (CONEX 1by1) that use data from VAD Alliance.
Analyzing transactions to predict the purchasing behavior of distance shoppers
On a daily basis, Conexance MD experts analyze over 280 million transactions to predict the purchasing behavior of 17 million distance shoppers. Advertisers, who are members of VAD Alliance, update their data on a monthly basis, which represents tens of millions of lines to integrate.
"In terms of data integration, our initial problem was industrializing the import of 150 files sent by advertisers each month – with each file representing between 60,000 and 1 million lines. So we were searching for a flexible and powerful solution to automate this process," reflects Nicolas Giard, Managing Director at Conexance MD. "In reality, we manage two separate databases: one containing personal client data and the other hosting transactional data, stored anonymously. Meanwhile, we created two other groups (press subscriptions and charity), operating on the same principle of pooling and using the same computer manipulations to develop predictive models. Data integration is therefore at the heart of our business.”
Conexance MD contracted Umanis, its technology partner, to first develop a data warehouse to receive and duplicate its partners files, and secondly to select and implement an integration tool that met its needs.
Talend Data Integration to industrialize heterogeneous data integration
An expert in business intelligence and particularly Master Data Management issues, Umanis, a Platinum partner of Talend, chose to implement Talend’s open source data integration solutions. "In addition to the excellent price/performance ratio, we were looking for an open tool that would enable the integration of other tools, such as the NORMAD address standardization solution. Talend offers a wide range of connectivity and ease of learning which were determining factors in choosing the tool. Additionally, Talend Data Integration offers collaborative features that enable us to overcome the distance between the teams, which are distributed across multiple sites in Paris and Lille," explains Luc Doladille, Project Director at Umanis. "We also appreciated the level of support and professional coaching, which were particularly useful given the challenges related to the volume and performance of the project. Ultimately, Talend Integration Suite enabled us to speed up each update of the entire database, decreasing the lead time from one day to six hours.”
Talend has helped Conexance avoid embarking on specific developments that are complicated and difficult to maintain. "We contemplated the relevance of developing an in-house tool, what we definitely would have done if the market only offered expensive, closed proprietary solutions. But thanks to Talend’s open source model, we implemented a particularly economical solution that is powerful and ready to use. Moreover, the Talend teams were able to respond when we needed support," adds Olivier Marc, Technical Manager at Conexance MD. "We now have an operational, easy to use solution that is quick to learn and providing expected levels of productivity. It enables us to offer new services to our customers and enhance our expertise in behavioral analysis and client knowledge.”
Specifically, Conexance MD receives data in different formats on a daily basis. A loading flow from the data warehouse was developed for each client. The data collected is then organized in a specific format, standardized (cleaned and deduplicated) and then integrated into the database. In all, Conexance MD currently manages 300 Talend flows.
"We use the full range of components that are provided standard by Talend, and we have also developed specific components, including FTP components for the secure transfer of data and control (encryption, transfer and verification)," continues Olivier Marc. "The three people using Talend Data Integration daily appreciate its user-friendliness which greatly simplifies writing scripts. We previously had a proprietary ETL and the difference at this level is clear.”
Reliability, performances, scalability
After two years of use, Conexance MD now considers Talend Data Integration a major component of its information system. "At the outset, we took a risk - albeit calculated - because Talend had neither the reputation nor references that the company boasts today. We tested the performance of the solution while increasing internal skills, so much so that today we have deployed it in a second platform (the first being equipped with Linux, this one runs in Windows)," comments Nicolas Giard. "Unlike the solution used in the past, Talend Data Integration uses Java, which guarantees its openness and availability of skills. The migration of jobs to the new Windows platform was completed very easily and quickly, resulting in significant gains in productivity and time. The openness of the solution also guarantees its flexibility, which is essential for us who have to modify processes often to meet the changing demands of our customers.”
Besides the decreased lead time for updating the database, Conexance MD also stresses the significant cost reduction offered by Talend. "Compared to proprietary offers, the Talend solution is at least three times less costly: in addition to the cost of the license being far lower, maintenance is less cumbersome and operation is more intuitive," explains Nicolas Giard.
Having established itself as a heavyweight in client knowledge, Conexance is now in a consolidation phase. Talend servers have been virtualized using VMware and the new architecture offers the same performance at a much lower cost. However, one of the greatest benefits for Conexance is the scalability of the Talend solution. "Everything is possible with Talend Data Integration, so our creativity hasn’t been limited to meet the demands of our customers. A new database to integrate? No technical problems, no extra costs and definitely no questioning of our projects. This is a fundamental factor for a company like Conexance MD that is operating in a highly competitive sector and seeks to increase its progress through innovation," concludes Nicolas Giard.