Published on 06-Jun-2011
"Our banking customers have very varying reporting and analysis requirements. With IBM Cognos we can implement these quite specifically – with individually tailored applications, that ensure a maximum of transparency, simplicity, reliability, and security." - Markus Bayha, Product Manager for Business Intelligence Applications at Fiducia IT AG
Fiducia IT AG
Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Optimizing IT
Fiducia IT AG, headquartered in Karlsruhe, is the largest service provider for information technology for the German credit union group FinanzGruppe Volksbanken Raiffeisenbanken and also for private banks, and is among the top ten IT providers in Germany. About 700 credit unions and more than 60 private banks use IT solutions provided by Fiducia and trust in the high security standards of its computing centre in Karlsruhe. In addition, public authorities and companies like the Südwestrundfunk benefit from the technical expertise and the infrastructure of Fiducia.
To serve a client-base that includes more than 700 banks across Germany, Fiducia IT AG needed to provide management information and analytical applications for bank executives and specialist departments.
With IBM Cognos Business Intelligence, Fiducia IT AG is able to provide decision-making information to its customers on a consistent platform. The relevant corporate data is automatically loaded into the Cognos solution and analysed to provide reports, cause analyses and target-performance comparisons.
Banks get the information they need to manage their businesses, plan sales and marketing activities, offer targeted products and develop successful finance concepts. Executives get a quick overview of the most important key performance indicators through personalised dashboards, and can review business development based on target-performance comparisons and react flexibly to market development and market risks.
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Fiducia IT AG, headquartered in Karlsruhe, is the largest service provider for information technology for the German credit union group FinanzGruppe Volksbanken Raiffeisenbanken and also for private banks, and is among the top ten IT providers in Germany.
About 700 credit unions and more than 60 private banks use IT solutions provided by Fiducia and trust in the high security standards of its computing centre in Karlsruhe. In addition, public authorities and companies like the Südwestrundfunk (a public broadcasting company in the southwest of Germany), or the ADAC e.V. (an automobile association), benefit from the technical expertise and the infrastructure of Fiducia.
Currently Fiducia manages about 66 million accounts, processes more than 18 billion transactions per year, and supports about 98,000 banking desks.
Fiducia operates two high security data centres and offers its clients a leading banking system called ‘agree’, which is used by about 770 institutions. Fiducia IT AG and its subsidiaries employ about 3,000 people, and achieved sales of €703 million in the fiscal year 2010.
Banks in competition
With the ‘agree’ core banking system, Fiducia supports functional processes such as product management and account management for its customers. To stay competitive and sell services more effectively, improve customer loyalty and gain new customers, Fiducia’s banking customers also needed IT solutions to cover and integrate additional areas such as reporting, analysis and planning. Fiducia wanted to find a solution that would replace laborious manual reporting and analysis tasks with standardised processes, while still offering maximum security.
To meet the demands of its customers, Fiducia set up a Business Intelligence Competence Center (BICC) to concentrate on innovations in customer service, product management, application development and systems technology. The goal was to enhance the ‘agree’ core banking system with business intelligence functionality.
“The BICC ensures that standards are defined and then followed in realisation projects. This helps us increase user acceptance and user efficiency, and minimise our project and operating costs.”
Fiducia decided to integrate IBM Cognos Business Intelligence into the ‘agree’ banking system, and the company was keen to use Cognos solutions to form the basis of the new business intelligence functionality.
“Our developers discovered quickly that IBM Cognos technology is extremely easy to use and customise,” remembers Markus Bayha, Product Manager for Business Intelligence applications at Fiducia IT AG.
The IBM Cognos Business Intelligence features are fully integrated into the ‘agree’ banking application, so banking users can access them easily. The banks’ corporate data is stored in a central data warehouse and can be used for reporting and analysis.
The integrated IBM Cognos solution not only provides the scalability required to offer services to a large number of different banks, but also ensures maximum security and usability. Moreover, the solution is seamlessly integrated with Fiducia’s IBM DB2 data warehouse software.
As an innovative IT service provider, Fiducia has continuously improved its business intelligence offering since the initial launch. In 2007, for example, IBM Cognos Planning was integrated into the solution portfolio to support the banks’ sales planning processes. And in 2008, Fiducia upgraded to the latest version of the IBM Cognos Business Intelligence suite.
The most recent project at Fiducia aimed at the requirements of the top executive level. Interviews with bank’s chief executives and controllers conducted at the beginning of 2009 showed that there was a lack of flexible and easy-to-use reporting tools designed for use in the boardroom.
“The executive managers of banks are already confronted with a flood of information, and in many cases they have set up reporting systems to handle this. However, an intuitively usable information platform is still missing. They do not have a consolidated view of the performance figures that are most relevant for senior management, and they do not have a sufficient ability to analyse the root causes of problems.”
In mid 2009, a project team at Fiducia under leadership of Markus Bayha worked with IBM consultants to develop a prototype: a management dashboard based on the well-proven IBM Cognos Business Intelligence platform. After the development stage, the team began the technical implementation in partnership with ten banks from across Fiducia’s customer-base. Over the following months, the project team implemented the interfaces to the different functional source systems, developed the information portal for the users, and created data cubes for causal analysis. These cubes can be used, configured and extended individually for each bank. More than 800 key performance indicators (KPIs) are measured, and each bank can choose to embed the most important ones in its own dashboards, and can even add new KPIs themselves. The dashboard solution was launched in November 2010, and is already being used by the senior managers of several banks.
“The biggest challenge in the project was to offer the banks full flexibility to implement their individual management models despite the standardisation of the application. The biggest part of the project work was in the area of data integration and data consolidation. Here we benefitted from the fast integration and flexibility of the IBM Cognos software.”
Closed cycle for maximum transparency
Today, a comprehensive range of business intelligence functionality is available to Fiducia customers. All 760 banks use the reporting solutions, and more than 600 use the analysis features. 140 banks also utilise the planning functionalities provided by IBM Cognos Planning.
“Our customers benefit from our service, which provides fully integrated and standardised business intelligence applications within the ‘agree’ banking system,” explains Markus Bayha. “Each bank can use a flexible business intelligence package that is tailored to their needs, providing everything from standard reports to detailed analyses.”
Business users access the data through a web-based interface that connects securely to the Fiducia network. They can generate individually pre-defined reports, review sales and marketing performance figures, or create market or sales channel analyses.
“Thanks to this solution, the labour time needed to create and distribute reports was cut down from four to five days per month to just a few hours,” says Bayha.
Fiducia customers can also use the solution for sales planning. With the help of IBM Cognos Planning, banks can specify which sales targets should be achieved with what resource costs in what period of time. The different application components (from forward-looking planning, via analysis, up to retrospective reporting) combine to form a single complete performance management cycle. Through the interaction between the individual business intelligence solutions, users in the banks can analyse the actual situation, identify customer business opportunities, and plan sales activity optimally.
“Today we offer our customers IT support for complete and integrated process chains,” says Bayha. “It is no longer just about generating information based on data, but to take action based on this information. Therefore it is important to us that at every stage in the process, we can use the appropriate Cognos features in a perfectly integrated way, and that we can integrate Cognos seamlessly into the ‘agree’ banking application.”
Dashboards provide a clear view
The management dashboard ensures a clear view on the executive level. The most important corporate data (sales, costs, staff information and so on) is loaded automatically from different Fiducia systems, external applications and other data sources. Compared to other solutions, the dashboard application’s unique advantage is that it can be customised and extended individually according to the banks’ own requirements.
On the home page of the information portal, there is a status overview that is individually customised for every bank. This shows the most important performance figure areas, such as market/customer, finances, risks, and processes. Individual performance figures can be flexibly grouped into categories, and a single mouse-click enables users to drill down and review underlying data in detail to enable causal analysis.
Critical developments, for example substantial sales losses in a certain product category or business area, are automatically highlighted based on predefined parameters. This enables executives to dive deeper into the data and analyse the causes down to the individual customer level.
Dr. Dirk Bothmann, responsible for strategy and sales management at the Volksbank Bautzen eG, uses the dashboard to provide his chief executive with important performance figures from the banking system:
“For senior management in particular, the ability to gain a quick overview is the only way to make sense of what is happening in the business. That is why at Bautzen, we use red signals on the dashboard to direct managers’ attention to the critical points. For more detailed analysis and causal research, a single mouse-click lets them drill down into the underlying data.”
Ease of use
The dashboard satisfies the main requirements of executives and divisional managers: it offers a quick overview of the current state of the bank and limits itself to the most important performance figures and success factors.
“The main advantage is easy navigation: from the status overview to the actual performance figures, and from the performance figure details to the root cause analysis, the users can drill down with a few mouse-clicks. So they get the information they need to manage their banks in the quickest and most direct way,” explains Bayha.
Planning and forecasting data from IBM Cognos Planning are also automatically available in the dashboard. This enables executives and controllers to compare planned and actual values, monitor the economic development of the bank, and if needed readjust the planned targets.
Flexibility is the key
The management dashboard is proving to be another successful IBM Cognos project at Fiducia.
“The first customer feedback was exceedingly positive, and has confirmed us in our one vendor strategy,” states Bayha. “IBM Cognos technology offers us the flexibility we need to provide our customers with standardised business intelligence solutions; meanwhile, from a technical perspective, it makes it easy for us to integrate the solution components with each other and continuously add features.”
For Fiducia, this is reason enough to expand its cooperation with IBM. To continue to offer the latest business analytics features to its customers, the company is already planning an upgrade of the existing business intelligence landscape to IBM Cognos 10.
Products and services used
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