It was a problem CompuCredit could no longer ignore. "There were many underlying inefficiencies in our old architecture [and] a serious risk of impairing our business growth," says CompuCredit CIO Guido Sacchi.
CompuCredit implemented a solution to the problem in January, co-developed with Software AG Inc. The credit-card issuer now boasts the ability to treat its legacy systems as Web services, so that data pulled from them can be combined into a single view for customer-service reps.
CompuCredit is using an XML standards-based approach to integration that retrieves data from mainframe applications, databases, and other systems through Software AG's software connectors and adapters. The information is converted from its native format into XML data and then moved over an XML-based messaging system (sometimes called an enterprise service bus, as it can connect many parts of the software infrastructure).
Now a customer-service rep can see a cardholder's payment history, the status of the most recent payment, and credit score, all in one view. Because of the improved system, customer-service reps collecting payments can more quickly conduct a transfer of funds from a customer's bank account to CompuCredit. The average length of customer calls has dropped by 30 seconds, to four minutes, and more calls are resulting in payments, which has improved the company's revenue flow, Sacchi says.
Software AG's approach of combining integration and enterprise-service bus technologies with its Tamino XML database could give it a competitive advantage. "Other vendors have part of this portfolio; it's the combined aspect that's new," says Ron Schmelzer, an analyst at ZapThink, an XML-oriented research firm.
The standards-based approach of basing an enterprise-service bus on an XML messaging service is likely to wear well in the future, says Anne Manes, Web-services analyst at the Burton Group.
"Many other enterprise-service buses are based on proprietary protocols," Manes says, so only systems where the proprietary software is installed can be integrated. The proprietary approach also makes it difficult to allow integration with systems outside a company, such as with a business partner, she says.
CompuCredit, meanwhile, has more plans for how it will use Software AG's XML-based technologies. By the end of the summer, Sacchi hopes to have a fraud-detection system in place that can cross-check more than 50 CompuCredit data sources.