HUK-COBURG – on the path to growth with Business Intelligence from IBM Cognos

Published on 04-Mar-2011

"The new solution based on IBM Cognos 8 and IBM Cognos TM1 has allowed us to create a future-proof BI architecture to provide far broader and more solid foundations for our corporate controlling. The TM1 database has significantly accelerated access to data, while the user-friendly IBM Cognos 8 BI provides flexible and clearly understandable reports and analyses." - Thomas Bertl, BI Project Manager, HUK-COBURG



Deployment country:

BA - Business Analytics, BA - Business Intelligence, BA - Performance Management, Big Data & Analytics, Big Data & Analytics: Transform processes, Business Integration, Business Performance Transformation, Small & Medium Business


Based in the German town of Coburg, the insurance company HUK-COBURG is using IBM Cognos 8 BI and IBM Cognos TM1 to gain deeper and more substantiated insights into its departments’ activities and to optimise its corporate controlling. Decision-making information is now stored centrally and is available throughout the company for use in reports and analyses.

Business need:
Installed in 2001, the group’s non-scalable BI architecture lacked the necessary performance, stability and flexibility to keep pace with growing requirements. Functionally restricted standard reporting was inseparable from ad hoc analyses, new tasks could not be implemented and the complicated operation proved too difficult for many users. The group therefore needed an intuitive solution that allowed fast and flexible Web access to reports and analyses.

HUK-COBURG decided in favour of IBM Cognos 8 BI together with the TM1 multidimensional database. TM1 allows rapid access to data stored centrally in the main memory, while IBM Cognos 8 BI offers a wide range of display options and analysis functions. Without significant training, departmental users can now create highly refined reports and analyses online.

The group now has a far more transparent view of the activities of its individual departments. The resulting decision-making knowledge is helping to increase efficiency and identify and exploit new potential. The solution is therefore supporting the group’s cost leadership strategy and helping it to further consolidate its position in the insurance market.

Case Study

Click here for a German version

Based in the German town of Coburg, the insurance company HUK-COBURG is using IBM Cognos 8 BI and IBM Cognos TM1 to gain deeper and more substantiated insights into its departments’ activities and to optimise its corporate controlling. Decision-making information is now stored centrally and is available throughout the company for use in reports and analyses.

As a leading consumer insurance company, to pursue its strategy of cost leadership, HUK-COBURG is continuously seeking to improve its efficiency. However, its BI architecture was increasingly proving a barrier: it lacked the necessary performance, stability and flexibility to keep pace with the group’s growing requirements, with new functions proving difficult, or even impossible, to implement. HUK-COBURG’s managers decided to introduce a group-wide BI solution based on IBM Cognos 8 and the multi-dimensional IBM Cognos TM1 database. Central data storage guarantees rapid query speeds, while Web access allows users to create flexible reports and ad hoc analyses. The result is a whole new level of transparency and far more targeted control.

The company
The HUK-COBURG insurance group consists of five loss/damage and accident insurance companies, two life insurers, two health insurers, one building society and a service company, making it one of Germany’s leading insurers. The group’s 8,500 employees serve more than nine million customers, generating a turnover of 4.9 billion euros (2009). Established in 1933, this traditional company with 38 branches, as well as its head office in Coburg, operates exclusively in the consumer market. The results of its cost leadership strategy are apparent in the group’s continuous growth. In Germany, one car in six is now insured by HUK-COBURG. To guarantee low premiums for its customers, the company has been using Business Intelligence (BI) for many years to increase its efficiency.

The challenge of sustainable growth
Since the start of the millennium, HUK-COBURG had been operating a data warehouse along with a proprietary analysis system. However, the solution proved unable to keep pace with growing requirements. As the group expanded, this lack of scalability began to affect its performance and stability. Features added subsequently aggravated these problems, while users complained about the system’s complicated operation. “In many cases it was impossible for us to implement new functions, in particular since the programming company had disappeared from the market. In addition, we couldn’t separate ad hoc analyses from standard reporting,” explains BI Project Manager Thomas Bertl.

Therefore, in 2008, HUK-COBURG’s managers decided to look for a future-proof BI system. The aim was to expand and facilitate controlling and management in three main areas. In sales, the objective was improved quality control, with flexible analysis functions to identify regional developments and new business potential, as well as more targeted planning of personnel and the distribution network. In the call centre too the emphasis was on more efficient allocation of labour and development of service quality. Finally, in the claims management area, the aim was to optimise the insurance network of garages in terms of customer satisfaction and quality.

Ready for the future with IBM Cognos 8 and IBM Cognos TM1
The first step involved drafting a specific list of criteria which was then sent to ten BI providers. In the next step, four providers created reports based on test data. The result delivered by IBM Cognos impressed the decision makers most, and the feasibility of the proposed solution based on IBM Cognos 8 BI and the TM1 multi-dimensional database was then demonstrated in a proof of concept. “In addition to the solution’s scalability, reliability and user friendliness, the key deciding factors were the flexible analysis and display options, as well as the individually configurable authorisation concept,” says Bertl. Good performance was also important, with analysis queries answered in seconds despite vast volumes of data – thanks to storage in the TM1 main memory. From a strategic point of view, the decision to choose IBM as a partner was based on the fact that its consultants and technologies are able to offer solutions for currently unforeseeable future needs. Therefore, in the middle of 2009, work began on switching the sales information system to the new solution as a prototype. Implementation then took place successively in the other departments until the end of 2010.

Speed combined with convenience
The implementation of the IBM Cognos solution represents a significant step forward for HUK-COBURG in terms of more efficient control. “Our departments no longer receive only previously generated PDFs or Excel spreadsheets, they can now call up reports autonomously online and run their own analyses,” explains Bertl. The foundations are the transactional data loaded from the associated systems to the data warehouse. Application development provides data marts (partial views of the data warehouse) for each department and models the requested data dimensions. The resulting multidimensional analysis cubes can then be called up by users and analysed according to a wide range of criteria. Just five days after its implementation, IBM Cognos Report Studio was being used to create numerous highly refined reports. While the intuitive Query and Analysis Studio allows users to create ad hoc analyses in response to specific queries. “The solution combines TM1’s high speed in relation to data storage with the wide range of display options and user-friendliness of the Cognos front end,” sums up Bertl.

Greater transparency, more decision-making knowledge, increased turnover
HUK-COBURG’s sales controlling now has a far more accurate view of sales activities, allowing it to identify any inefficiencies and unexploited potential far faster. The solution has also brought the call centre more detailed and up-to-date information to improve its management. In terms of cost leadership, the solution is supporting claims management in particular, with a far more transparent view of results for increased control. As a strategic project, in general the solution is helping HUK-COBURG to consolidate its market share. “Both management and end users are very happy with the new system. This group-wide, scalable solution is bringing us far greater transparency and more solid foundations for decision making. And the ability to easily integrate new requirements means that we are ideally equipped for the future,” sums up Bertl. The improved performance and stability of the new solution is not only saving time and resources, it is also providing the group with completely new insights, which were simply not possible before due to the vast volumes of data. Allowing HUK-COBURG to continue on its path to growth with renewed strength.

About IBM Business Analytics
IBM Business Analytics 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 Business Analytics 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 Business Analytics solutions.

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Cognos TM1, Cognos Business Intelligence

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