REVIEWER: Georg Haupt, project manager for WWK Versicherungen.

BACKGROUND: Founded in 1884 in Munich, Germany, WWK Versicherungen is a strong, rapidly growing, independent financial services provider. For decades, WWK has been a market leader in fund-based life insurance while also providing an excellent portfolio of personal, property and casualty insurance policies. WWK manages nearly 1 million life insurance policies with revenues of €24 billion and nearly 500,000 composite risk policies. WWK continually receives top ratings by agencies such as Fitch Ratings, ASSEKURATA, Morgen & Morgen, and Franke & Bornberg.

PLATFORMS: HP UNIX server, Windows XP client workstations.

PROBLEM SOLVED: For 30 years, WWK ran an insurance application called IBIS. Recently it became evident that this system had reached its limits and was no longer meeting our needs. It was imperative for us to migrate to an updated solution with functionality that supported our current and future requirements. For a successful migration, we needed to ensure the quality and accuracy of customer data held within the current sequentially organized system was accurately transferred into a relational database - in spite of out-of-date documentation and undocumented user knowledge. While manual analysis of the data would be too expensive, a complete understanding of all data content and various data structures was required in order to accomplish a seamless migration. Working with the Evoke Axio Product Suite, we were able to identify incorrect data and correct it before it caused failures in the migration. We were also able to verify key structures and more precisely map source data into target systems primarily using Evoke Axio's column profiling and redundancy profiling features. This allowed us to accelerate the data analysis part of our project dramatically, in some cases by a factor of eight times.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: With the ability to provide direct access to all major data sources (RDBMS, mainframe and PC databases), Evoke Axio profiled the data with a combination of automated discovery and interactive analysis, revealing hidden data quality issues, gaps, inconsistencies and incompatibilities in various data sources. This provided us access to key facts about our source data, meta data structure and content. We were also able to automatically validate our real data against pre-defined data rules.

STRENGTHS: With an intuitive user interface and the ability to examine the actual data in its entirety, Evoke Axio automated the analysis of existing source data to discover its true content, structure and quality. A fully open repository of results was also available for reporting and sharing of analysis. All this was accomplished while providing improved overall data quality and saving significant rework time and expense.

WEAKNESSES: Evoke Axio offers robust functionality. If there was a weakness, it was the inability to dynamically join tables within the product. A simple solution was to create views of the data first. Then, Evoke Axio performs the same profiling done on individual tables on the views.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We evaluated various products including Ascential Profile Stage and Avellino Discovery. Evoke Axio provided much more information and a level of analysis not typical of conventional data profiling solutions and techniques. We also chose Evoke Axio because it fully met the project requirements, including ease of use and non-duplication of data - important evaluation criteria not met by other products evaluated. Evoke also offered comprehensive services designed to provide best practices and methodologies to rapidly derive value from this project.

DELIVERABLES: The Evoke Repository made the stored profiled data information available to project teams and third-party products as well as provided excellent ad hoc reporting capabilities.

VENDOR SUPPORT: The product proved to be very stable, yet local vendor support is readily available. Additionally, Evoke representatives provided initial product training and continue to provide support and implementation of best practices needed to achieve our desired data quality results.

DOCUMENTATION: A complete library of documentation is provided. In addition to online help, many manuals are provided. The vendor provided training manuals in German, allowing us to take full advantage of the cost savings and risk-mitigating benefits achieved using Evoke Axio.

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