Published on 31-May-2011
"After seeing IBM Cognos BI in action, we knew it was a great way for us to move forward with our plans, it offered us the full range of business intelligence capabilities we needed to help our end users gain faster, deeper insights that just were not possible with our existing technologies." - Michael Adams, EVP in Field Technology for Primerica
Business Intelligence, Smarter Analytics, Business-to-Business
Primerica wanted representatives to have the ability to access a high level view of their total business quickly & efficiently, without the limitations of static reports. Primerica was convinced that this dynamic ability to gain deeper insights by interacting and drilling down into sales data would help them increase productivity, boost revenue & challenge their downline representatives to improve their performance. Another business justification was the significant cost savings that could be realized by providing representatives with paperless access to their commission statements.
Primerica wanted to provide its representatives with the ability to drill down into sales data in order to increase productivity and boost revenue. However, Primerica’s online representative portal offered only static data and required representatives to run multiple, time-consuming queries and filters for different subjects.
Using the IBM Cognos BI platform, the company enhanced their “Primerica Online” portal with new capabilities unlike any other in the insurance industry. Representatives can now dynamically drill-down into sales data, receive online commission statements and identify downline representatives that need help with their performance.
Saves $394,000 annually through paperless commission statements
• Access critical sales information in a fraction of the time it used to take • Dynamically drill down and interact with sales data to reveal valuable insights • Identify which downline representatives are performing well and which need attention • Analyze which products and resources are moving the business forward
The ability to understand sales data in order to improve performance and increase profits is essential for any business. But in the complex sales structure of the life insurance industry, understanding cash flow can be a difficult if not impossible task for representatives that don’t have the time, skills or tools. In this case study, you’ll learn how Primerica solved that problem by using IBM Cognos Business Intelligence (BI) to enhance its “Primerica Online” portal and give representatives an unprecedented capacity for accessing premium and compensation performance. These new capabilities help representatives manage their business, optimizes Primerica’s distribution system and saves the company hundreds of thousands of dollars annually by eliminating legacy paper-based reporting.
A new way for representatives to access and understand data
With a sales force that services 4.3 million life insurance clients and more than 2 million investment clients, Primerica is a massive operation that relies on its Primerica Online portal to distribute information and analyses. Primerica’s approximately 142,000 licensed and not yet licensed sales representatives can subscribe to this service, gaining access to a wealth of information including sales figures, commission data, production reports, compliance requirements, earnings statements, multimedia presentations, personnel history, sales competition standings and motivational messages.
Primerica Online was a great resource for representatives. Primerica thought it could make it even better by adding new capabilities to help representatives interact with data and gain deeper, more valuable insights into their business performance. Until recently, for the purposes of cash flow reporting, the portal consisted of ten year old java applet technology that required representatives to run multiple queries and filters for different subjects. Representatives would have to open a java application, run the query, exit out and then go to the next application to see related numbers. Results were delivered in static PDF documents. It was a traditional way of presenting numbers that was not optimal.
“We wanted to deliver more value to our representatives by developing substantial improvements to Primerica Online and offer new ways of looking at their sales numbers and commission statements,” said David Wade, executive vice president and CIO of Primerica.
In particular, Primerica wanted representatives to have the ability to access a high level view of their total business quickly and efficiently, without multiple queries or the limitations of static reports. Primerica was convinced that this dynamic ability to gain deeper insights by interacting and drilling down into sales data would help them increase productivity, boost revenue and challenge their downline representatives to improve their performance. Another business justification was the significant cost savings that could be realized by providing representatives with paperless access to their commission statements.
Leading-edge business intelligence capabilities
To fulfill its vision, Primerica required superior business intelligence capabilities that could transform Primerica Online into a powerful new resource unlike any other in the insurance industry. Primerica evaluated the IBM Cognos Business Intelligence (BI) platform, which delivers complete, consistent and timely business intelligence for multiple user communities on an easily scalable infrastructure. The project team was impressed with what they saw and selected IBM Cognos BI as the foundational technology for improving the Primerica Online portal.
“After seeing IBM Cognos BI in action, we knew it was a great way for us to move forward with our plans,” said Michael Adams, EVP in Field Technology for Primerica. “It offered us the full range of business intelligence capabilities we needed to help our end users gain faster, deeper insights that just were not possible with our existing technologies.”
Even before selecting IBM Cognos for this project, Primerica had a deep commitment to IBM. The company relies on a full stack of IBM technologies to manage and distribute massive volumes of information including an IBM System Z mainframe, IBM DB2 database software, IBM POWER7 microprocessor and the IBM WebSphere for AIX application server. Additionally, as a seasoned user of IBM Cognos products for enterprise analytics, Primerica has now extended the reach of self-service analytics and reporting to where they can make an even larger impact on the company’s performance while directly supporting the success of its representatives and their clients.
“We are blue through and through,” said David Wade.
With the IBM Cognos BI platform in place, the Primerica team created a two-person “center of excellence” team to build out the new functionality for the portal. The two members of the team represented both the business and IT aspects of the vision for the project. One was a smart, knowledge-based user and other was a highly skilled developer. As subject matter experts for business and IT, they collaborated on the most effective ways to implement the new functionality so representatives could use the portal to dynamically drill down into sales data for strategic insights. In addition, the developer also worked full time building the paperless commission statement application that would save representatives time and the company hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.
Thanks to the hard work of the project team and the IBM Cognos BI platform, Primerica Online now provides the capability to actively drill down into deep volumes of critical business information. Representatives can dynamically interact with this information to gain insights that would have been too time-consuming and labor-intensive – or just impossible - before the portal enhancements. With timely, accurate and reliable information that tracks performance and provides guidance for its sales force, the new capabilities are an invaluable tool for improving productivity, increasing revenue and ensuring compliance.
Unprecedented insight into sales and representative performance
Because commissions are paid through multiple levels of downline representatives, it has traditionally been difficult for representatives to track sales performance through second, third or fourth generations of representatives in their downline. Now, that data can be quickly and easily accessed. Because the information available is both broad (across many lines of business, regions and markets) and deep (providing sales information since 1984), Primerica’s representatives have insight for developing strategies in ways that were not previously possible.
Primerica Online’s dynamic drill-down enhancements empower representatives to see deeply into the performance of their downline representatives. Before Primerica Online, representatives would traditionally view only premium numbers without the benefit of an analysis of the multi-tiered commission aspect. Now they can perform commission inquiries that provide much deeper views into how much they are earning from different segments of their businesses.
For instance, representatives could spot a high earner or low performer that is two or three levels downline, and determine who needs extra attention or motivation based on their earnings and their commission rate from that level of the organization. With this information, managing representatives can focus their attention on those who most need coaching and mentoring, and learn of the successes of their top performers in order to maximize revenue opportunities for themselves as well as Primerica.
“When we talk with the key leaders in our company, they are consistently surprised at the amount of information that they have never had access to that is being delivered through the portal – and how easy it is to use,” said David Wade.
Dramatic cost savings and improved productivity
Primerica Online now provides easy online access to multi-tiered commission statements. This innovation has provided remarkable benefits in terms of cost savings by eliminating the need to print and mail hard copy statements to representatives. The total projected annual savings is approximately $394,000. With more than 220,000 policies issued last year, and more than 2.5 million policies reviewed for 23 scheduled events on a daily basis, earned commission statements for a given representative could represent a stack of paper two to three feet tall.
“By going paperless, we eliminated the expense and complexity of our legacy hard copy system, and provided representatives with faster, more convenient access to commission statements at any time and from any location via Primerica Online,” said Michael Adams.
Because representatives are able to access critical sales information in a fraction of the time it previously took, the improvements to Primerica Online have also accelerated productivity. Online report distribution of representatives’ 12 Month Business Average numbers provides a real-time tool to analyze which products and resources are driving their business forward and what areas need more management attention. Through the ability to track the performance of their entire sales organization and measure cash flow from their different lines of business, representatives are able to develop highly targeted and effective tactics for increasing revenue.
A future trend for the insurance industry
The new “drill down” capabilities into cash flow and commission information have established Primerica Online as a next generation solution for how representatives view their numbers. When you add in the other existing elements of Primerica Online, such as webcasting, sales recognition, education and training resources and compliance capabilities it is truly a ground-breaking system for keeping thousands of people plugged into their businesses.
“The enhancements to Primerica Online represent a future trend for how insurance companies will interact and inform their network of sales representatives,” said Craig Bedell, Global Insurance Industry Executive for IBM Business Analytics. “Compared to traditional methods this is an extraordinary solution. To remain competitive, insurers must be able to easily deliver this deeper level of insight to their representatives.”
Primerica’s executive vice president and CIO David Wade agrees.
“Our best estimate is that Primerica Online is five years ahead of any other similar project in the insurance industry. In terms of the amount of data available, the ability for representatives to interact and drill down into this data using IBM Cognos BI, and the practical benefits it provides on a day to day basis, it is a unique solution.”
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