How does Companion for integration (C4i) allow us to aggregate our product data and make it available to our clients ?

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#DEDICATED TO It # PIM #DATA #STEP #STIBO # Infrastructure

We’ve been using STEP since 2018, as our product repository.
At the time, on top of centralising our product data, we were facing the challenge of making that data accessible to all our customers, in a way that was efficient and understandable for everyone.
Therefore, we decided to embark on a pilot project to test Companion for Integration (C4i) – which is part of the Companion software suite created by Cantor

Cédric Gavand
IT Project Manager – Legrand

Context and challenges

To centralise our data from STEP in one place, in a simple format, accessible to all

When we set up our PIM tool, our main objective was to centralise our product data management, globally. Nevertheless, 2 key questions quickly arose:

    • How do we use this data?
    • How can we make it accessible to all our business teams, customers and suppliers?

We first started with single exports. This quickly became very costly in terms of both manpower and operational. The data model was not optimal, its performance was poor.

We have therefore started to build a framework able to tackle the majority of our projects. Indeed, the first challenge was to find a data model accessible to all, duplicable whatever the country, and compatible with the majority of uses we have: product sheets, technical specifications, certification, instructions, design/configuration tools, catalogue…

In some cases, we also needed to aggregate our product data with other data sources. Again, this had to be simple, easy to maintain and evolutive.

From there, early 2020, we established a list of specs to find out which technical solutions could solve the issues we had: product data extraction, storage and how to expose data to all our applications, tools and clients.

The solution

Technical expertise of the STEP solution, consulting and Companion for Integration

Cantor have been maintaining our PIM tool since day one, so it felt natural to consult them for this project.
We got a presentation of the Companion software suite, and specifically Companion for Integration, which is compliant with Stibo Systems’ guidelines (SDK) and software updates. We also found interesting that this solution is a simple extension of STEP. It requires no additional component.

Then, we agreed to embark on a pilot project together, to test the C4i solution. This was done safely within a copy of our environment, duplicated internally by Cantor.

Cantor’ STEP expertise was precious when we started to extract data from STEP, in a way that was configurable and flexible, according to our current and future needs. Output data is not standardised, and so comes across as perfectly understandable by a non-STEP expert.

The ease of connection of C4i with various middleware solutions (DB, APIs…) also allowed us to store data in a short timeframe, while ensuring high quality and efficiency.Cantor’s comprehensive knowledge around data management was very helpful during this project, and in particular when choosing how to extract our data, or when selecting other middleware tools.

Simplifying the data and centralising it for our applications, tools and customers was our main challenge. It has been overcome. We will soon integrate C4i into our environment. The objective being to have several projects that leverage our product data via C4i by the end of this year.

Beyond the great collaboration we have with Cantor, the productive approach of all people involved in this pilot project, created a unique relationship between Legrand and Cantor. We became partners, rather than simple client and vendor.
This is part of what made this project a success.

Cédric Gavand
IT Project Manager – Legrand

Companion for integration in the IT environment