Agravis and Exasol

THE SEED HAS SPROUTED – EXASOL HELPS AGRAVIS WORK IN AN AGILE WAY AND MAKE DATA-BASED DECISIONS

AGRAVIS Raiffeisen AG is a modern agricultural trading company dealing in agricultural produce, animal feed, plant cultivation and agricultural technology. It also operates in the energy sector and Raiffeisen markets, including construction materials, and in project development. The AGRAVIS Group generates sales of EUR 6.6 billion with over 6,500 employees and is one of the leading companies in the industry with more than 400 locations, mainly in Germany. Its international activities are taken care of by subsidiaries and affiliated companies in more than 20 countries and its export activities involves more than 100 countries worldwide. The company’s headquarters are in Hannover and Münster.


Challenges

AGRAVIS needed to become more data-driven and required speed, scalability, query options, compatibility and reduced maintenance costs.

Solutions

Exasol’s analytics database provided the architecture the business needed to become more agile.

Benefits

Acceleration in query response time by factor of 14

“Thanks to the new platform, we are now working in a much more agile way. We can respond more quickly and with a more granular approach. It used to take us a lot more time to supply the required information to the departments. Working on adjustments is now much easier.”

Maximilian Holl Manager Data Analytics at AGRAVIS
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CRM system

Background

A high level of competitive pressure, structural change, tight margins and a steady stream of new requirements, such as the fertiliser regulation, pose major challenges for the company. It is becoming increasingly important for AGRAVIS to be able to work in an agile way and make data-driven decisions. In order to bring data together from a wide range of sources and make this the basis for future decisions, the company is opting for a modern data warehouse to form the core of the Exasol Loading...In-Memory Analytics database.

  • Industry Agribusiness
  • Application BI Acceleration
  • Database Exasol
  • BI Tool SAP BusinessObjects
Case study background details

The journey

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The challenge

Higher performance, more flexibility

The original non-analytical database management system was no longer adequate to meet the requirements for speed, scalability, query options, compatibility and reduced maintenance costs. Performance problems kept cropping up. In addition, the old system left a lot to be desired in terms of the necessary functions and efficiency, which meant that the maintenance costs were always too high. By switching to an analytical database, the data analytics team wanted to take the entire data architecture to a new level. “We were limited in our (technical) agility by the architecture that our previous solution provided. We practically had to do everything that our departments needed twice over,” says Maximilian Holl, Manager Data Analytics at AGRAVIS. “We could barely work with virtual views, which made development cycles longer. Even small adjustments were relatively time-consuming.”

Maximilian Holl’s team defined a catalogue of requirements and went in search of a suitable analytical database. “Our aim was to find a system that required the least possible administrative effort, offered us a high performance and rapid implementation for requests or adjustments. We no longer wanted to deal with maintaining a system; we wanted to focus much more on what brings real added value to the company,” says Maximilian Holl.

Three systems were short-listed. The Data Analytics team closely scrutinised various databases, including the, Exasol database, in a four-week proof of concept procedure. “Throughout these four weeks we were able to do extensive tests, culminating in a trial migration of almost all of our data warehouse,” says Johannes Bienemann, Expert Data Analytics at AGRAVIS, summing up the PoC before adding: “All queries ran significantly faster than was possible before and, on average, we noted an acceleration by a factor of 14. We were also very impressed that the database requires practically no maintenance at all.” The company decided on Exasol and the actual migration was soon completed. Over the months to follow, Maximilian Holl’s team worked on creating a new, substantially streamlined data structure.

The solution

Exasol database: central Group data warehouse and data platform

All the data is now collected in the central Group data warehouse, which is where all historic and current data is stored. The data from three ERP systems, a CRM system and online shops flow into this storage facility. The Data Analytics team provides centralised and standardised data supply and the individual departments can retrieve the data they need. SAP BusinessObjects is currently used as the front end. Professional users therefore do not work directly on the database, but compile their reports using this tool.

The benefits for AGRAVIS

“Thanks to the new platform, we are now working in a much more agile way,” says Maximilian Holl with enthusiasm. “We can respond more quickly and with a more granular approach. It used to take us a lot more time to supply the required information to the departments. Working on adjustments is now much easier. Before, even drawing up and filling in more columns in a large spreadsheet would take several hours. Now we are even able to carry out the adjustments requested by the departments on the same day in some cases.”

Johannes Bienemann adds: “We have deviated from a classic ETL approach (Extract, Transform, Load) and we no longer follow a general principle of supplying data physically in data marts. Now we work on the basis of the ELT approach (Extract, Load, Transform) instead. We therefore store raw data in the database in a meta-data-driven way and then work on the data using (virtual) views wherever it makes sense to do so. The benefit of this is that it saves storage space and the data is consistently available for different applications.“ This has made it possible to shorten loading cycles enormously. The departments receive their data in near realtime as required and can therefore always produce up-to-date reports.

“Overall, we in the Data Analytics team are satisfied with Exasol,” says Maximilian Holl, summing up his assessment. “However, it is not just the Exasol database itself that won us over, but also the support team‘s response times and the provider‘s customer service. We therefore have the best foundations in place for focusing on our own customers‘ needs.”

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