Munich Re achieves strategic big data platform with SAS® and Hortonworks

Reinsurer digitizes its business with Hadoop and big data analytics

Munich Re, the world’s largest reinsurer, is relying on SAS® Analytics and Hortonworks Data Platform (HDP) for its big data initiative. Together with its technology partners, the reinsurer has installed an innovative platform capable of analyzing extraordinarily large quantities of data.

Munich Re’s big data initiative is a central component of its strategy to actively address evolving worldwide risk. Munich Re intends to increase its clients’ resilience against economic, political and cyber risks while setting and shaping trends in the insurance market. The platform enables departments to effectively explore new ideas, develop new business fields and further enhance customer service. The platform launched in February 2016.

A major factor in Munich Re’s choice of technology partners was the close cooperation between SAS and Hortonworks. That relationship encourages complex analytics projects based on Hadoop infrastructure to succeed quickly and effectively.

“As a reinsurer with worldwide operations, we have vast data resources at our disposal,” explained Marc Wewers, Lead IT Architect for Big Data and Analytics at Munich Re. “We now want to leverage them fully to advance our business and realize pioneering business models.”

Analyzing semi-structured and unstructured data – from paper documents to emails and video files – is crucial. Munich Re also wants to integrate external data such as weather information or sensor data from vehicles, machinery and other networked devices. They expect the combination of these sources to lead to new insights that promote innovative products, services and processes.

SAS and Hortonworks: A proven partnership

Given the sheer volume of Munich Re’s data, only the most powerful software would do. SAS big data analytics had already proven its value at Munich Re. For data processing and storage infrastructure, the reinsurer opted for a Hortonworks Hadoop cluster.

Wewers said the proven performance of the strategic partnership between SAS and Hortonworks was decisive for choosing a vendor: “We want to take advantage of SAS Analytics while making the best use of a Hadoop cluster with its open source tools. As a team, SAS and Hortonworks delivered exactly what we needed.”

The platform is based on an open approach that provides Munich Re’s data scientists the highest degree of freedom and creative latitude. A business intelligence lab lets them test new ideas without affecting day-to-day operations. The IT innovation department managed by Axel Stockmann also maintains a technical trend radar to model employees’ data analytics requirements as precisely as possible. Things have been running smoothly in practice: Since commencing operations, more than 200 new analytical questions have been implemented. Around 500 users are already working with the system, which is being expanded in stages.

“A platform like this can only work if the users are happy with it,” said Wolfgang Hauner, Chief Data Officer at Munich Re “The rapidly rising numbers of users and the large number of analytics projects clearly show that our approach is spot on.”

“By integrating and optimizing their respective technologies, SAS and Hortonworks allow organizations like Munich Re to transform their enterprise analytics strategy,” said Scott Van Valkenburgh, Senior Director of Global Alliances at SAS. “Munich Re’s big data platform demonstrates how effectively Hadoop and SAS Analytics work together to help them be more strategic and effective in coordinating resources to support their customers.”

“Hadoop has become the framework of choice for organizations to capitalize on the large amounts of data available to them”, said John Kreisa, Vice President of International Marketing at Hortonworks. “Through our partnership with SAS and respective technologies, Munich Re will be able to collect, analyze and store data to make better business decisions and meet the challenges of an incredibly fast-paced market.”

To learn more, listen to the on-demand webinar: Data Management for Advanced Analytics: How SAS Works With Hortonworks.

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