Luxury travel firm Kuoni embarks on journey to master its data

Luxury travel company Kuoni has set off on a journey to take control of its data with the help of open source middleware provider Talend.

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Luxury travel company Kuoni has set off on a journey to take control of its data with the help of open source middleware provider Talend.

The company, which puts together bespoke holidays for those seeking luxury travel, deployed Talend's technology earlier this year after finding discrepancies in its data when it tried to create reports on it for the business.

“[It was only when we] started reporting on the data in 2006 that the problem started coming to light," Ellena Thompson, head of business intelligence at Kuoni, told ComputerworldUK at the Talend Connect conference in London.

“The issue was we had very old source systems [and the problem got worse] as we started adding more and more source systems.”

For instance, a business user and an operations person looking at a booking in the system would see two different dates for when the booking was created.

So, in order to get one version of the truth and to better understand data across the whole business, Kuoni implemented Talend's data management technology, which Mark Stier, Kuoni’s MDM (Master Data Management) specialist, had had experience of in his previous role at supermarket giant Tesco.

Furthermore, due to the "bolt-on" nature of Kuoni's legacy systems, the company wanted a toolset it could tailor to its own specific needs - which it was able to do with Talend.

“We didn't want to just buy a tool and conform to their data model," said Stier.

"We needed a model we create to represent the business. We like the idea of owning what we create [rather than paying for a licence].”

Thompson added: “Because our source systems are configured in-house we needed the ability to customise.”

Business backing

An important part of the data management project has been the involvement of the business. Kuoni has introduced a Data Governance Council, which is made up of business, as well as technical, representatives, who help to define business rules for the data. The data improvement programme was also signed off by the company’s chief financial officer (CFO).

“We wanted to make sure it is business-focused. Business representatives help us set the data quality,” said Trent Pettis, programme manager at Kuoni.

Stier added: “It has also been useful bringing different parts of the business together talking about data, so they are communicating better.”

As proof of this, different business units are starting to use the same terminology when talking about the various data sources, Thompson said.

While there are around 150 people in Kuoni's technical team, only a small part is working on Talend. A challenge has been to find the necessary data integration skills, Stier said, in particular people with experience of working with Talend’s technology.

Kuoni uses Talend's toolset on-premise on its servers, alongside Google for geo-location data and Loqate - which is accessible through the Talend platform - for validating address data put through the company's systems.

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