Philips Healthcare has turned to improved data mapping to migrate information across the organisation in response to a major SAP deployment.

The Philips Healthcare division has 116,000 employees in more than 60 countries. When the organisation started a SAP PI middleware platform rollout, the process of moving existing data systems had to be invisible to the organisation's users.

In the division more than 60,000 business messages are generated every day in different parts of the organisation. For instance, said Philips, when a new MRI system is sold and an order created, it sets off a chain of messages that impacts many departments.

This could include the sales team specifying the order, the manufacturing team tasked to build the system, the buying team required to source the components, the finance team to issue and invoice the customer, the project management team to ensure the MRI system is delivered and installed at the customer’s site, and so on. As a result, ensuring that data is accurately mapped between all departments at Philips is a big priority.

Philips Healthcare had initially been using a Tibco-based enterprise application infrastructure (EAI) system as the backbone for its business. After more than 10 years though, new middleware requirements and unsupported Tibco software forced Philips Healthcare to take action.

Philips upgraded to a newer Tibco platform, together with a new canonical model to enforce a single XML-based structure for its data. But with the new Tibco platform Philips found challenges in its existing way of developing data-mapping that needed to be resolved.

After upgrading to the XML environment Philips found the process of mapping, writing a mapping specification in Excel and then coding it, was not good enough. It often found that mapping specifications and mapping coding were not in sync.

Hans Sloots, EAI consultant at Philips Healthcare, said: “We needed a new solution that could not only better define our maps, but which could remain flexible enough to transfer them to new middleware platforms as and when they are introduced.”

Philips turned to the Contivo data transformation and integration tool from Liaison Technologies. Liaison applies "artificial intelligence" to the mapping process, which means it can automatically suggest the best mapping option available. This cuts down on the time required to complete error-free mapping manually.

Philips Healthcare now uses Contivo licences across a series of data centres located all over the world. With over 150 mapping templates currently in production, says Sloots, it now has a reliable framework to ensure every message reaches the right department at the right time, and in a format that can be easily interpreted and applied. Any new maps or adjustments to existing maps can also now be quickly delivered.

Master data management (MDM) is essential to cracking the big data challenge, according to Tibco's EMEA CTO Mark Darbyshire.

Master data management helps offer a single, complete view of all master data and provides information essential to business operations by helping to contribute to essential strategies and processes, said Darbyshire at a London conference this week.