HanseMerkur makes selling insurance easier

IBM Cognos transforms sales data into decision-making insight

Published on 07-Jul-2011

"Offering customers the right services and providing competent advice are mission-critical factors for HanseMerkur’s success. The new reporting system based on IBM Cognos Business Intelligence provides the competitive advantage needed to market products systematically and get ahead of the competition." - Godehard Laufköter, Head of Sales Controlling, HanseMerkur Versicherungsgruppe

Customer:
HanseMerkur Versicherungsgruppe

Industry:
Insurance

Deployment country:
Germany

Solution:
BA - Business Intelligence, Data Warehouse, Optimizing IT, Smarter Planet

Smarter Planet:
Smarter Insurance

Overview

HanseMerkur insurance group, headquartered in Hamburg, Germany, has a long pedigree in the insurance industry: its roots go back as far as 1875. Today, HanseMerkur is a well-established insurance provider in Germany, especially in the field of personal insurance. The main line of business is private health insurance, and the company also specialises in supplementary insurance services such as dental insurance or hospital insurance. With 1,794 employees including office-based staff, sales teams and full-time brokers, HanseMerkur generated sales of more than €1.1 billion in 2010.

Business need:
HanseMerkur wanted to centralise its reporting processes in one portal to provide up-to-date and consistent decision-making insight to sales controllers and sales representatives.

Solution:
With the help of IBM® Cognos® Business Intelligence, HanseMerkur implemented a central information system that collects and analyses data from a data warehouse and presents the results through a web-based portal.

Benefits:
Thanks to the intuitive usability of the new solution, users in sales controlling can now create and distribute reports on their own. The sales force can access the platform at any time from any location, and use it to request up-to-date sales reports. The new ability to access more detailed information helps sales teams to advise customers better and market products more efficiently.

Case Study

To read a German version of this case study, please click here.

HanseMerkur insurance group, headquartered in Hamburg, Germany, has a long pedigree in the insurance industry: its roots go back as far as 1875. Today, HanseMerkur is a well-established insurance provider in Germany, especially in the field of personal insurance. The main line of business is private health insurance, and the company also specialises in supplementary insurance services such as dental insurance or hospital insurance. With 1,794 employees including office-based staff, sales teams and full-time brokers, HanseMerkur generated sales of more than €1.1 billion in 2010.

Success factors in customer service
As an innovative insurance company, HanseMerkur provides individually tailored insurance products and packages to its customers. Reliable customer service and qualified consulting services are of central importance, as the company needs to succeed in a highly competitive environment where customers’ demand for information and quality rises continuously. For HanseMerkur, self-employed brokers who specialise exclusively in HanseMerkur products play a crucial role. To be able to act as competent representatives of the company, this sales force needs consistent and up-to-date information about products, customers, and sales targets at all times.

Looking for a central solution
The existing reporting system of HanseMerkur – especially information distribution to the brokers – was becoming more and more outdated. Although a central data warehouse existed, sales controlling and other business functions needed to create their reports through various other solutions. This was a laborious and time-consuming effort, and could be quite error-prone. Subsequently, sales reports needed to be sent individually to the brokers, as it was not possible to automate the delivery of decision-making data that would help advise existing customers and win new business.

Senior management at HanseMerkur realised that it was vital to find a new way to handle information.

“The existing decentralised IT solutions could hardly keep up with the rising requirements for consistent and flexible reporting of business information,” explains Dr Horst Karaschewski, Head of Application Development at HanseMerkur. “We decided to implement a new and centralised business intelligence solution. The goal was to provide both office users and (more importantly) the brokers in the field with up-to-date reports and a better basis for decision-making.”

Implementation: focus on sales
The actual requirements for the new reporting system were defined quickly: the solution should be connected directly to HanseMerkur’s central data warehouse; it should replace a variety of reporting systems and processes with a central platform; and finally, it should offer self-service functionality for easy creation and requesting of reports. Furthermore, the new solution should be web-based to allow sales staff in the field to access it from outside the corporate network – while maintaining compliance with the highest security standards. IBM Cognos Business Intelligence met all these requirements down to the tiniest detail.

“IBM Cognos offered the flexibility, usability, and reporting depth we needed to implement our requirements item by item,” says Karaschewski.

Within a few weeks, a small project team implemented the new solution, configured the interfaces to the data warehouse, and developed an extranet information portal for the sales force. The practical information needs of the brokers were the main focus when designing the platform: what sales reports are needed on which sales levels? The project team also developed a dedicated permission management and internet security system, to avoid unauthorised access to data.

All on one platform
Today, three sales controlling specialists and about 750 field staff work with IBM Cognos Business Intelligence. The versatile reporting features of the solution enable the sales controllers to create reports that are populated with up-to-date and consistent data from the data warehouse. These reports provide a firm foundation for the business decisions of the sales force: regional managers and brokers in the field can log into the web-based information portal and – according to their access rights – request the needed information and key performance indicators.

Decision-making knowledge without detours
With the help of IBM Cognos Business Intelligence, HanseMerkur has optimised both its reporting and its sales processes. At the same time, the ability to create reports in the sales controlling department reduces workload for the IT department: while in the past several days per month were needed to process requests and develop reports, this has now been reduced to a matter of hours as functional users in the sales controlling team can now satisfy their own information requirements.

“The intuitiveness of IBM Cognos pays dividends during daily work. Even without profound IT knowledge, the required reports can be generated quickly,” says Godehard Laufköter, Head of Sales Controlling.

New depth of information
HanseMerkur’s brokers gain considerable benefit from the greater depth of information the solution provides. Instead of gathering data themselves, they can now request up-to-date information about policies, prices, sales, cancellations, securities and commissions.

“This information is essential for our brokers in the field, because it is the only way that we can advise our customers optimally,” explains Laufköter.

The information portal includes an early warning system that highlights metrics that exceed or fall below predefined thresholds by using traffic light icons – for example, positive or negative deviation from sales targets, negative inventory developments, or deviations from financial plans. Employees can use this to react quickly to critical situations.

“The new solution helps the brokers control their own sales processes, and enables better operational risk management,” says Laufköter.

The result is significantly improved sales performance, because the sales force can now answer mission-critical questions at any time: How much revenue did I generate and what costs did I create in a certain period? Where there is potential for up- or cross-selling? Which products sell well in which regions? Which customers might be in the market for supplementary products? What is the dunning level for each customer? For HanseMerkur, the new IBM Cognos reporting solution plays a strategically central role in an insurance market where well-grounded and competent customer analysis is becoming ever more important.

Extending the information advantage
The new solution has already proved its value for the sales process, and its users are highly satisfied. HanseMerkur now plans to expand the central information platform to other business units.

“It just makes sense to extend IBM Cognos to provide value to other areas of the business, such as the human resources department, for example,” explains Karaschewski, looking to the future. “Going forward, we intend to exploit the analytic features of the solution further and provide additional insight for our sales teams. The OLAP cubes for multi-dimensional data analyses are already configured, and in future we will also employ IBM Cognos software for financial planning.”

Products and services used

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

Software:
Cognos Business Intelligence

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2011. IBM Deutschland GmbH, 71137 Ehningen, Deutschland, ibm.com/de. IBM Österreich, Obere Donaustrasse 95, 1020 Wien, ibm.com/at. IBM Schweiz, Vulkanstrasse 106, 8010 Zürich, ibm.com/ch. Produced in Germany, June 2011. All Rights Reserved. IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com and Cognos are trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation, registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. A current list of other IBM trademarks is available on the Web at “Copyright and trademark information” at: ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml. References in this publication to IBM products, programs or services do not imply that IBM intends to make these available in all countries in which IBM operates. Any reference to an IBM product, program or service is not intended to imply that only IBM’s product, program or service may be used. Any functionally equivalent product, program or service may be used instead. All customer examples cited represent how some customers have used IBM products and the results they may have achieved. Actual environmental costs and performance characteristics will vary depending on individual customer configurations and conditions. IBM hardware products are manufactured from new parts, or new and used parts. In some cases, the hardware product may not be new and may have been previously installed. Regardless, IBM warranty terms apply. This publication is for general guidance only. Photographs may show design models.