In the highly regulated financial services industry in which AMI operates, data security is of the utmost importance. AMI clients want an easy-to-deploy solution which reduces their overhead and simplifies their IT infrastructure. The AMI Encompass Software System was COBOL-developed and when AMI wanted to provide its customers with a browser-based version of it for ease-of-use, it turned to Micro Focus Xcentricity Business Information Server (BIS). BIS offers application developers a unique opportunity to build state-of-the-art browser-based Web Applications comprising RM/COBOL programs. A presentation layer was presented through a Web-browser, making it a much more user-friendly solution for AMI customers.
Mark Lee, VP of Operations for AMI, discusses the next challenge AMI wanted to tackle: “Our credit union clients have a variety of data reporting requirements. A lot of those are met by built-in reports which they can run themselves, using SQL access to our data. However, if a new reporting requirement needed to be implemented by us, this would be designed as a development requirement in our next release. With a release schedule of two or three releases each year, a new reporting requirement could take 4-6 months to be built and delivered. An unacceptable timeframe for most of our clients. We looked at a possible code rewrite to an ODBC-compliant format, but with millions of lines of code and 30 years of business intelligence captured in them, we really didn’t want to do this. We were also happy with the performance and transaction processing speed, so looked for an alternative approach to safely open up our data for our clients to do their own querying and reporting.”
Market research highlighted Micro Focus Relativity as a solution to this issue. Relativity brings the benefits of relational database (RDBMS) technology to COBOL applications that use traditional data files for application data. Relativity presents COBOL data files as a relational data source enabling other software tools to easily access application data. It is compatible with RM/COBOL, Net Express, Server Express and the Visual COBOL product line.
Implementing Relativity enables AMI customers to conduct sophisticated data analytics and business intelligence on their data, using an ODBC interface which provides a relational view of the data. The data access is on a read-only basis, so that no “bad data” may enter the system by accident, and AMI stays in full control of the data. The intuitive Relativity interface allows AMI to provide added-value services to its clients, such as capturing new credit union member’s signatures and identification cards so that these can be used as future proof of identification.
Lee comments: “Data analytics and business intelligence are key tools for our credit union clients and this is where Relativity comes into its own. One of our clients targets its branch offices on securing five different financial products per member. Easy access to their data gives them product and member statistics on each branch with a detailed and personalized report measuring them against this target. The analytics are then carefully used to custom-design promotional programs which will help each specific branch office.”
All credit unions segment their member base by age, and calculate the optimum age bracket, i.e. at what age members use the most credit union products. This data then allows them to very specifically determine a target audience for particular products.
Lee concludes: “Leveraging Xcentricity and Relativity has really helped us stay competitive within our market place. There hasn’t been a single request which we haven’t been able to accommodate and more and more of our clients are completely depending on the reporting power they now have at their fingertips.
Our development staff no longer has to focus on report modification requests and can instead introduce new enhancements to the platform and deliver end-user training on new features. Micro Focus has been with us every step of the way with great support to help us when we needed it.”