The resulting platform - which is built on open source big data technologies from the vendor Hortonworks - was launched with a short announcement on the company intranet in January 2017.

Kohlmaier anticipated that around 50 people across the organisation would request access to the data lake in total. However, after the first day he had 200 people registered and logged in to the platform.

This caused some confusion within the organisation, who started to ask how it had so many employees interested in a data lake in the first place. After just one week they had picked up 500 users, at which point they they had "a whole new set of challenges," as Kohlmaier put it.

Now they had to prepare for a whole new user base that expected a point-and-click analytics platform. So over the next year they worked on making the platform more accessible to this user base, incorporating technology from self-serve analytics specialists SAS and tweaking the platform to make it more user friendly. Then in October 2017 the Data Lake 2.0 was launched.

Data hunters

To help support these new users Munich Re also created a dedicated data intake team to help identify which data sources to bring to the data lake and to what quality level.

It also developed a team of what they call 'data hunters', tasked with "searching for interesting data sources for your use case both inside and outside the company," as Kohlmaier explained.

"So if you have a good idea and know what you want to do but are missing a piece of data those data hunters go out and help you find and acquire that data, clean it, prepare it and bring it to the data lake so you can use it," he added.

Finally all of this work has naturally led to a comprehensive training programme at Munich Re.

"You will definitely need a dedicated education programme for both data engineering and data science," Kohlmaier advised. The company is aiming to upskill around 2,000 people this year with data engineering, data modelling and analytics skills.

"I have personally no idea what will happen next year when we have 10,000 people using this, but I am pretty sure it will be interesting," he concluded.