Published on 28-Sep-2009
"The main benefits of IBM Cognos for us are based on two aspects: gains in terms of knowledge and time." - Klaus Frohoff, Sales Controlling, Volksfürsorge
Business Intelligence, Smarter Planet
Volksfürsorge has now faster access to information.
When Volksfürsorge was consolidating its BI tools, it needed to ensure that in addition to the solutions provided, support was available from a single source and the offering met all the organization’s requirements. This included the direct querying of relational data, the availability of up-to-date reports and individualized sending and access options based on a modern Web application that also allowed the future expansion of the system to respond to changing needs.
• IBM® Cognos® 8 BI • IBM DB2® • IBM InfoSphere Datastage®
• Standard factual basis for sales controlling • Reduced maintenance effort thanks to a standard BI platform • Faster access to information • Decision support to optimise the business
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When it comes to insurance, people have been placing their trust in Volksfürsorge since 1913. To maintain this long tradition, the company needs reliable information— and optimal control over its business processes—to respond rapidly to new developments. Volksfürsorge now uses cutting edge business intelligence (BI) tools to meet these requirements: an IBM infrastructure and IBM Cognos technology ensure rapid access to business information and provide solid foundations for decisions. With a portfolio of more than nine million policies, Volksfürsorge is one of the biggest players in the German insurance market. Since 1993, the majority of the company has been owned by the AMB Generali group, and at the start of 2009 it is set to become a new sales company as
part of an internal merger project. AMB Generali Informatik Services, with 1,200 employees and offices in Hamburg and Aachen, is responsible for providing IT support to Volksfürsorge and other AMB Generali companies.
Even before the implementation of IBM Cognos, Volksfürsorge used BI to analyse and optimise its business processes. To create a consistent landscape, the company took the strategic decision to use IBM Cognos 8 BI as a standard front-end tool throughout AMB Generali. “The group has come into being as the result of the merger of different insurance companies, all using different tools. For cost and maintenance reasons, we wanted to consolidate our BI tools. We decided in favour of IBM Cognos solutions due to the fact that in addition to the solutions, support was available from a single source and the offering met all our requirements,” explains Georg Simon (Sales competence centre) at AMB Generali Informatik Services. “These requirements included direct querying of relational data, availability of up to-date reports and individualized sending and access options based on a modern Web application.”
Klaus Frohoff from Volksfürsorge’s sales controlling explains, “We began by describing our requirements at department level, before discussing with our IT service provider the most appropriate technical methods and tools to implement them. In addition, IT and the departments worked together to create architecture that would allow the future expansion of the system to respond to changing needs.”
About 5,500 people at Volksfürsorge use IBM Cognos 8 BI.Most of them are so-called recipients—primarily field sales staff, who call up PDF versions of standard reports every day using the Internet or Intranet. At the next organisational level of the sales structure, around 1,000 users employ IBM Cognos reports to access detailed information. They can consider additional time periods, call up a wider selection of reports and drill down to assist in their management and controlling tasks.
Finally, employees from regional head offices and administrative centres use the BI solution to carry out “free analyses” using IBM Cognos 8 Analysis. “The free-analysis function is integrated in our sales information system, along with basic supply and standard control components,” explains Klaus Frohoff. “It is used to create defined reports to provide users with the information they need. These include specific sales analyses as well as ad-hoc and special reports. These users are generally looking for very specific technical information at irregular intervals.” To make access to information even easier, a single sign on solution has been implemented using the IBM Cognos 8 Software Development Kit. Users simply need to log in once to access all the information they need. “We were one of the first major users of IBM Cognos 8 BI. In many ways, this represented a challenge, which we overcame thanks to intensive and competent support from IBM Cognos Professional Services,” says Georg Simon, summing up the implementation.
Whatever level of the hierarchy uses the BI solution, Volksfürsorge’s main aim in implementing BI is to optimise its sales. How successfully are which policies being sold in which regions? Which advisers are particularly productive in which categories? Where are special incentives most useful? The business information provided by IBM Cognos provides answers to these questions and many more. These facts help managers to make decisions for sales management meetings, marketing strategies or to formulate objectives.
Managers receive a consolidated version of IBM Cognos reports as well. The structure of the reports is the same across all hierarchy views. “This standardised data and presentation was important to enable us to create solid factual foundations,” states Klaus Frohoff. “This ensures that we are all talking about the same figures—from sales field staff to management.”
Volksfürsorge’s radical reorganisation of its sales controlling also played a role. In the past, claims business was the main control measurement, but this is now being overtaken by policy business. “We are therefore focusing more on remuneration for field staff. IBM Cognos has also made it easier to compare key figures throughout the entire group,” explains Klaus Frohoff. Speed is another top priority, as Volksfürsorge uses up to-date reports to control its business. Behind the scenes, another strong IBM product feeds the user-friendly IBM Cognos solution with consistent and reliable business information. The database used throughout the entire AMB group is IBM InfoSphere Data Warehouse, based on IBM DB2. The company also uses IBM as its data management tool. IBM InfoSphere Datastage extracts data from different source systems and integrates it in the front end through the data warehouse—a complex and important process, since reliable and comprehensive data is essential to produce dependable results.
“IBM InfoSphere Datastage provides us with a modern ETL tool, and the added benefit of a graphic interface,” states Georg Simon. “This dominant use of IBM solutions gives us better support in comparison with using a range of solutions from different suppliers.” Future plans include further expansion of the database, with the addition of new information and content, including portfolio and cost data for profitability calculations. This also includes the integration of SAP—no technical hurdle, thanks to the solution’s scalability. All this demonstrates that business intelligence is giving Volksfürsorge a clear competitive edge in a fiercely contested market, and helping this traditional company to secure its future after 95 years of existence. Volksfürsorge is faster than ever at the age of 95.
“The main benefits of IBM Cognos for us are based on two aspects: gains in terms of knowledge and time,” concludes Klaus Frohoff. “The days of time-consuming printing and sending of lists are a thing of the past.We now have faster access to information, and this allows us to respond rapidly to sales developments and obtain a competitive edge. The modern architecture provides us with very user-friendly access to our data from any location.”
About IBM Cognos BI and Performance Management
IBM Cognos business intelligence (BI) and performance management solutions deliver world-leading enterprise planning, consolidation and BI software, support and services to help companies plan, understand and manage financial and operational performance. IBM Cognos solutions bring together technology, analytical applications, best practices, and a broad network of partners to give customers an open, adaptive and complete performance solution. Over 23,000 customers in more than 135 countries around the world choose IBM Cognos solutions.
Products and services used
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