Using Talend, the Groupe Flo peels its customers’ consumption patterns

At the heart of this new infrastructure, Talend Data Integration makes data flow orchestration reliable and fast.
The goal set by our marketing department to have more data and assurance has been reached. It also benefits from more recent information, since we have saved 36 hours of time!
Marie-Claude Jaurand, Back Office IT Manager for the Groupe Flo

In its 45 years of existence, the Groupe Flo has established itself as a leader in the commercial restaurant industry in France. It offers various, complementary restaurant concepts, under several brands: Hippopotamus, Tablapizza, Bistro Romain, Brasseries FLO, Taverne de Maître Kanter and Concessions FLO. With 5,000 employees, the Groupe Flo earned a total sales figure of €526 million in 2013. Over 25 million customers are welcomed each year in one of the Group’s 309 restaurants.

A BI system to secure the Group’s growth

A curator of authentic culinary and cultural heritage that it continues to extend and adapt over the ages, the Groupe Flo has become a key leader in theme-based restaurants in France by blending together creativity, innovation and tradition. The Group’s main strength is having succeeded in perpetuating a unique state of mind in all of its establishments, in line with the tradition maintained by an innkeeper who people love to seek out for both his unique accommodations and talent. This was made possible by a deep understanding of its customers’ tastes and expectations, achieved through the implementation of various marketing programs (for example, the loyalty program). These programs are based on a Group business intelligence platform, the foundations of which were laid down in the 2000s with the goal of securing the company’s growth.

In 2012, as part of the Group’s BI infrastructure modernization and structuring program, the Information Systems Department had been asked to build a new data warehouse offering more analytical opportunities, including being able to recover all the receipts for the Group’s French restaurants (more than 328 million lines per year: an average of 3000 lines for each of the 300 sites, 365 days per year).

“We built our information system over time, brick by brick,” reflects Marie-Claude Jaurand, Back Office IT Manager for the Groupe Flo. “The data integration operations were performed via exchanges of text files generated from business applications. Data was centrally uploaded via different dedicated tools, depending on the preferences and habits of the developers. Inflexible, the system relied on manual processes making ​​it impossible to process large volumes of data on a daily basis (such as receipts). The goal of this overhaul was to standardize the recovery of this new data flow and to plan for the future by streamlining tools and industrializing our integration process using a single tool. We were looking for a robust solution based on standard technology so that there would be no problem finding the necessary professional skills on the market to operate the solution.”

The old system delivered aggregated data (lunch and evening services), while the marketing department needed more granular information, for example to analyze the sales of a restaurant in a given half hour. It also wanted to access more detailed data: the number of invoices generated, average revenue generated by a single person, a couple or groups, time spent at the table, volume discounts, loyalty, etc. to provide a deeper understanding of the consumption patterns of customers in restaurants.

Talend Data Integration to industrialize information flow management

The Groupe Flo BI unit selected three data integration tools to carry out preliminary tests. “The first solution was rejected due to cost, we found that it was better suited to ISDs much larger than ours,” comments Marie-Claude Jaurand.  “We decided to make two prototypes using the other solutions, including Talend, to compare their performance. The results of this benchmark were dramatic. We planned two presentation days, at the end of the first day the Talend consultant had almost fully completed the project. What’s more, other purely technical concerns – CPU memory management and difficult consolidation of multiple tables from different databases – tipped the balance in favor of Talend. While the second solution showed good performance in ELT mode, Talend proved to be best in ETL mode, while offering superior levels of scalability and flexibility.”

The Groupe Flo chose Talend Data Integration for four main reasons: an open, multi-server, multi-database environment; attractive, subscription-based pricing; an open source model that is much more flexible than proprietary models, particularly in terms of developments; and a system based on standard technology that is particularly fast to deploy.

Synotis was entrusted with the implementation of the solution, a service company dedicated to data management and application integration technology. “Capitalizing on extensive Talend technology expertise, we contributed to the implementation of the solution and the development of new BI reports. The Groupe Flo also entrusted us with optimization and improvement assignments. Our responsiveness and knowledge of the Talend ecosystem has enabled us to deliver our projects on time,” reflects Robert Bounheng, President of Synotis.

More responsive reporting

Each restaurant has a point of sale system not connected to the central computer and based on a server, a Sybase database and local clients (checkout registers). It dialogues with a loyalty management system via web services. Batch processing is provided daily at the closing of the restaurants in the evening, resulting in the delivery of a file for the day. “The data of 162 restaurants (excluding franchises) is processed and transmitted to headquarters in just 10 minutes. It is then consolidated in a centralized database. The next morning, it can be used by our teams. For the entire process, we saved one and a half days’ of time,” enthuses Marie-Claude Jaurand.

Retrieval is completed via one MicroStrategy application. This sales reporting is primarily intended for management control, marketing and general management, or approximately forty people. They are able to perform ad-hoc queries on the databases to complement existing reports. Eventually, the regional managers will also benefit from this consolidated information.

Besides speed and parallel processing, the Groupe Flo emphasizes incident recovery performance (following, for example, internet connection problems). “The system has been operational for 18 months. Flows are secure and easy to supervise, and the solution provides the reliability that we expected,” adds Marie-Claude Jaurand. “The goal set by our marketing department to have more data and assurance has been reached. It also benefits from more recent information, since we have saved 36 hours of time!”

Finally, while the BI unit will gradually recover other data flows using Talend, it has just initiated an activity and time management project that will allow it to consolidate information from the payroll tool and business applications. In terms of marketing, the Groupe Flo also plans to cross the data of its restaurants with external databases, such as event calendars (sports, culture, religious holidays, etc.), or weather data. “Like many companies today, BI projects are at the heart of our growth strategy,” concludes Marie-Claude Jaurand.