The Secret Sauce of LeasePlan’s Award-Winning Logical Data Fabric
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Last month, IDC announced that LeasePlan, a car-as-a-service company, was the winner of IDC’s European Data Strategy and Innovation awards, in the category of Data Management Excellence, for LeasePlan’s logical data fabric. This is a testament to the maturity of logical data fabric; just a few years ago, not many might have heard about this emerging architecture, but today it is an important part of the data management conversation.

According to IDC, enterprises were nominated for recognition in the Data Management Excellence category when they could demonstrate significant advances in effectively and efficiently managing data at scale, to gain tangible business advantages. The winning project, LeasePlan’s logical data fabric, was conceptualized a couple of years ago by LeasePlan as part of its broader next-gen data strategy, which envisioned making data available anytime, anywhere, regardless of the form (structured, semi-structured, or unstructured), to serve the unique needs of drivers and fleet managers.

The LeasePlan Story

With business operations spread across 32 countries, and a fleet of over 1.8 million vehicles, LeasePlan had data spread across a variety of siloed and heterogeneous data sources, making it challenging to create new business models and comply with EU regulations. While aspiring to become a fully digital car-as-a-service company, LeasePlan needed not only to bring this data together but also to utilize it to accelerate innovations in its products and services, a herculean task by any standard. So, while data integration was a priority, LeasePlan placed equal emphasis on delivering this integrated data to the right stakeholders. Therefore, the company needed to include capabilities for metadata management, data quality, and data governance, to enable trusted access to data across the enterprise. LeasePlan realized that the company needed to build long-term resilience into its data infrastructure, so that it would be adaptable to changing business needs, and this made technology agnosticism extremely important in the new infrastructure.

The Role of the Denodo Platform

The Denodo Platform checked all of LeasePlan’s requirement boxes. It is a technology-agnostic platform for building out a logical data fabric architecture, enabling LeasePlan to connect to a wide variety of new data sources and data-consuming applications. LeasePlan can easily switch technologies, if necessary, without impacting business operations. The Denodo Platform provides an abstraction layer that establishes a single, secure point of entry to LeasePlan’s entire data ecosystem. By providing a centralized framework for data governance, self-service, data caching, and role-based access control (RBAC), the platform enables streamlined access to data, protecting LeasePlan’s customers and ensuring the highest level of data safety, essentially forming the core of the company’s logical data fabric.

The Secret Sauce

Without the involvement of the right stakeholders and the right approaches, this secret sauce might not have been such a success. However, from the very beginning, this project had sponsorship from the C-suite, making it feasible to channel and resources. Avoiding rushing into a hodgepodge transformation, LeasePlan started with building a blueprint of its data ecosystem, which included not only the data assets owned by the company but also the external data sources that were essential for creating new business models. This blueprint made it possible to visualize data assets and their role in specific initiatives and also to identify missing data assets. With this blueprint in mind, LeasePlan created a 2-year program based on agile principles, involving iterative development. An executive steering committee was established to report on the progress of the program monthly. The project was successfully completed in 2022, with the logical data fabric replacing LeasePlan’s legacy data warehouses, and ultimately it became a resounding success when it won the IDC award.

In conclusion, identifying the right problems and needs, involving the right stakeholders, selecting the right set of enabling technologies, and thoughtfully planning the proper implementation of the solution, made the secret sauce of LeasePlan’s logical data fabric such a winner.

Sutender Mehta