Europe’s largest regional airline—named Best Short-Haul Airline at the 2016 Business Travel Awards—is undergoing a period of rapid change, from adding new routes to improving operational efficiency by changing systems and processes. The latter is covered by “Back to Basic”, one of a number of transformation programmes designed to help Flybe focus on core business, gain new efficiencies, improve services and delivery.
Until now, Data Integration had been performed using a variety of tools, systems and customisations. This lack of consistency – a point-to-point approach between multiple back-office systems – led to issues in managing a process that was neither fast nor guaranteed to be accurate. “Flybe has embarked on a major transformation journey in the last few years, with the business following a clear upward trend,” says Mark Smith, the airline’s Head of Development, Digital & BI. “The business recognised it had to change in a number of areas, with back-office systems including finance and HR a priority. This is about better managing our direct operating costs.” Initially, the airline sourced an ERP system before deciding on a ‘best of breed’ route. “We selected five systems, which then needed integrating, but we had no common middleware,” Smith continues. With core requirements to satisfy the demands of the “Back to Basics” programme and deliver the required enterprise-wide integration, Smith says Flybe also wanted improved reporting, with a “mini Business Intelligence solution”. Flybe engaged in an RFP process and, Smith says, “A number of vendors responded. With some, we liked their solution but they didn’t have systems integrator skills. Others, we liked their SI capability but not the tool.” Following a review, Flybe selected Talend technology for its strategic Data Integration solution.
Mark Smith describes Talend as “the perfect fit” – a solution able to transfer data from one system into multiple systems, potentially at different levels of granularity, whilst ensuring data consistency throughout. However, Flybe wasn’t satisfied with the systems integrator involved: “We really liked Talend but decided the SI wasn’t a strong fit for us. We spoke to Talend, who recommended Datalytyx.” With time scales short, Datalytyx had to respond fast.
Transforming the back office
Talend is now being implemented to bring five strategic back-office systems together with a number of other data sources, enabling the exchange of data and helping deliver additional insight to support decision-making. A consultant from Talend Data Services worked alongside the Datalytyx architect to help design and implement the system. “Our whole IT strategy is based on outsourcing wherever possible, using SaaS solutions and a best of breed approach,” Smith continues. “From a company-wide perspective, any integration should go through the Talend platform, with Datalytyx as our partner of choice.” While it’s early days, he says work is proceeding extremely well: “We’ve implemented the first two packages, and the Talend platform has been implemented in a production environment by the Datalytyx team. At this point in time, Datalytyx is ninety percent of the way through developing and testing the initial six interfaces, with 60 interfaces in total across the ‘Back to Basics’ programme.”
A strong working relationship
“Datalytyx is delivering what we want, including taking the lead in Disaster Recovery and High Availability, putting all the necessary business processes in place for our Talend platform. They’ve also been redeveloping interfaces we’d already created in-house. Datalytyx is also very adaptable and flexible in terms of what we need. For internal reasons, we experienced some delays, but Datalytyx has been very understanding, moving resources around accordingly. Looking to the future, we’re already talking about a longer-term relationship with Datalytyx, extending our relationship from Data Integration to include access to business information, and drawing on Datalytyx expertise in Big Data.”