Published on 14-Aug-2013
"This application has enabled us to make a big step towards strategically realigning the way we support our sales teams from a technical perspective." - Klaus Missy, Director and Technical Architect of Front Office Sales Systems, Generali Versicherungen
Generali Deutschland Group
Business Analytics, Business Integration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance Transformation, Cloud Computing, Empowering People, Enabling Business Flexibility, Enterprise Modernization, Smarter Analytics, Smarter Analytics - Grow & retain customers
Generali Deutschland is the second largest primary insurance group in Germany; in 2012, its subsidiaries in the insurance industry collected premiums totaling approximately €17.2 billion. The company offers a wide range of financial services through divisions such as AachenMünchener, Generali Versicherungen and CosmosDirekt. These services range from life, health, property and legal insurance, through tailor-made construction financing offerings, to attractive funds and banking products.
Generali Deutschland wanted to help staff sell products more effectively by consolidating various existing sales applications.
With the support of IBM, the company consolidated its existing offline and online systems and developed a platform to provide online access to sales applications.
Increases the salesforce’s clout by providing online access to up-to-date customer information and sales applications. Eliminates the provisioning of “closed” offline systems, including hardware and software logistics and relevant system support.
To read a German version of this case study, please click here.
Generali Deutschland is the second largest primary insurance group in Germany; in 2012, its subsidiaries in the insurance industry collected premiums totaling approximately €17.2 billion.
The company offers a wide range of financial services through divisions such as AachenMünchener, Generali Versicherungen and CosmosDirekt. These services range from life, health, property and legal insurance, through tailor-made construction financing offerings, to attractive funds and banking products.
Generali Deutschland Informatik Services GmbH acts as an IT service provider within the group. It has offices in Aachen and Hamburg, and employs a total of around 1,200 people.
Long term strategy of multiple brands and sales channels
For many years, Generali had employed a strategy of selling services to its customers under several well known brands via channels including internal sales departments, brokers, banks and other external organizations that sell financial services.
This strategy made it difficult to provide adequate professional support to the various sales teams. Many of the salespeople were using a variety of offline systems that contained different versions of information about the company’s portfolio. The company needed to spend significant amounts of time and money producing and distributing around 30,000 CDs every quarter to keep these systems up-to-date.
Meanwhile, there were also a number of online sales applications with heterogeneous user interfaces, which required users to remember multiple sets of login details.
Recognizing the inefficiencies arising from this situation, the company commissioned Generali Deutschland Informatik Services to develop a new online system that would support the various sales organizations.
Philipp Niederau, IT Architect at Generali Deutschland Informatik Services GmbH, explains: “We wanted to unite all sales-related content and functions into an online portal with a single, intuitive interface. We wanted our sellers to be able to access up-to-date customer data and sales applications from any place at any time, using virtually any device with an internet connection.”
Full functionality with a single interface
The IT team gradually added the information and functions from the various, largely self-developed old applications to a new online portal solution, which is based on IBM® WebSphere® technology. Experienced IBM consultants supported Generali with advice and hands-on assistance in the design and implementation of this mammoth project.
The new solution makes all sales-related data available online, where it can be viewed and queried. Approximately 22,000 users can access relevant information about the customer accounts they manage from anywhere in the world using a standard web browser. Different design templates allow the various sales organizations responsible for each brand to overlay their applications with their own look and feel.
The new platform hosts more than 12,000 user sessions per day, and all the data is encrypted to keep it secure. Each user has their own individual password, and a “grid card” dual-factor authentication strategy provides an additional layer of security to ensure that sensitive data does not fall into the wrong hands.
A wide range of applications in one system
The new online portal’s first main application provides access to the company’s most important databases. Despite the large number of back-end systems involved, it is now possible to display all the information about a customer (for example, contracts, address, billing data, and contact history) within a single user interface. As a result, an insurance agent or a broker who contacts a customer has all of the relevant information to hand. A single point of access makes it easy for users to update customers’ addresses, bank accounts or payment methods instantly.
A second tier of applications is used to calculate the pricing of all the financial services offered by the Generali Deutschland group. These applications enable sellers to individually determine the rates and conditions of all insurance and provision products during their conversations with customers. As a result of these calculations, sellers can quickly create and print out an offer, which – once the client has accepted it – automatically sends an application to Generali’s headquarters.
(In rare cases, customers must pass a few plausibility checks and provide some extra data at this stage. For example, for life insurance services, German law requires customers to send the original signed documents to the insurance company’s headquarters, although this is only for compliance purposes.)
The new contract comes into effect as soon as the online application process is completed, offering vastly improved efficiency and huge time savings compared to the previous approach, which involved customers completing applications on paper and submitting them in person or by postal mail.
“This application has enabled us to make a big step towards strategically realigning the way we support our sales teams from a technical perspective,” explains Klaus Missy, Director and Technical Architect of Front Office Sales Systems at Generali Versicherungen.
“In the past, most inquiries from customers could only be processed using special computers at our offices, whereas today they can be dealt with using any device, even at customer sites. In addition, our sales partners can use the online portal to access the group’s full range of offerings: from car insurance to pension products.”
Additional features facilitate routine work
Besides these two core sets of applications, the group’s new sales portal also provides a wealth of additional features. For example, users can create letters or e-mails to customers directly in the web application. They can manage their day-to-day work, keeping track of application and settlement processes, and automatically receiving messages about important updates to customer accounts (such as when a customer makes a claim). This optimization of the interface between the sales teams and head office staff ultimately leads to better customer service.
In addition to these operationally focused applications, the portal also offers a range of functionalities to assist with marketing, promotions and sales support. These include guidance programs, which can be used to calculate a customer’s expected pension gap. There is also an electronic bulletin board that informs employees about topics relevant to their day-to-day work – such as new insurance products, news about major changes within the organization or specific deadlines.
Automated target group segmentation
The portal also provides access to analytical applications. IBM Cognos® Business Intelligence software enables users to identify specific target groups within their customer base and launch targeted marketing or sales activities.
For example, users can click to see a list of all customers who may have a gap in their disability insurance coverage, or simply customers who will soon celebrate a notable birthday. By entering parameters such as the target age – for example, 30 or 40 years – users can undertake a more precise segmentation of the desired target audience.
More than a hundred pre-specified selection criteria are also available at the click of a mouse. These include, for example, filters for people entitled to child benefit, with a certain income, with building loan contracts that have not been honored, or with specific tariffs.
Despite the enormous amounts of data that sometimes have to be processed, the lists of results are usually available within a few seconds. Bulk emails or letters containing specific information, congratulations or offers can then be easily sent to all of the addresses on these lists. Users can even tag data records with a note for subsequent processing.
“We use the online portal to offer an essential customer advisory service tool to our sales partners,” says Klaus Missy. “Once users register, they gain access to a unified, intuitive sales portal, which unites all the functions provided by our legacy applications. The analytics capabilities provided by Cognos are a key part of this: the segmentation of target groups allows users to access relevant information quickly and easily. But from the sellers’ point of view, all the complexity is completely invisible. They don’t even know which underlying technologies they are using!”
Generali can also easily add new selections as and when necessary – for example, if the company has developed a new financial product for a specific target group. By running the appropriate query, local sales representatives are able to immediately identify potential customers and address them with sales or marketing activities.
Comprehensive IBM technology supports non-stop operations
The enormous processing power and storage capacity required to support these business-critical applications are provided by IBM Power Systems™ servers featuring POWER7® technology running on the IBM AIX® and IBM z/OS® operating systems, located at two data centers in Aachen.
The company’s data is constantly mirrored in real time, and the applications are distributed between the data centers for maximum performance. If a component, a server, or even an entire data center were to fail, comprehensive failover processes ensure that the relevant tasks would be taken over by other systems. In most cases, users would not even notice that a problem had occurred.
The applications are based on a service-oriented architecture. IBM WebSphere Portal Server, IBM WebSphere Application Server and several IBM DB2® database management systems are key features of this environment. Security is provided by IBM Tivoli® Access Manager. Most of the back-end systems are z/OS applications developed by Generali.
The company has been using IBM Cognos Business Intelligence for a very long time. Its innovative architecture, which is based on web services, makes it ideally suited to incorporating powerful analytics and segmentation features into a uniform user interface.
“IBM Cognos Business Intelligence provides an ideal solution for developing and deploying more than 100 query templates without additional programming effort,” said Philipp Niederau. “It also makes it easy to save specific queries and their results.”
High user acceptance ensures long-term success
The user response has been overwhelmingly positive. A single, state-of-the-art web platform provides them with access to the group’s full range of financial products – from life, legal and property insurance and building society savings plans through to private and company pensions.
Within the same portal, staff can provide customers with quotes and sell them insurance products directly. Thanks to its ease of use, even employees who do not regularly access the portal are able to learn to use it quickly, and new hires require little training.
For example, a salesperson who had mainly focused on private pensions in the past can now easily sell car or legal insurance to customers when the opportunity arises. This integration enables huge cross-selling opportunities for the entire group, helping Generali increase its sales in the long term.
All customer data and information on contracts are kept up-to-date, and users can access this information easily, from anywhere: all they need is an internet connection and a PC, laptop or tablet. The company is now planning to optimize the portal interface for smartphone users too.
“The online sales portal enables our sales partners to advise customers more effectively,” explains Philipp Niederau. “They can help us provide better-targeted information and react faster to inquiries. For example, we can now record smaller insurance claims and instantly compensate our customers as soon as the plausibility checks are completed, raising customer satisfaction and providing us with a competitive advantage. We are confident that we will be able to meet future demands on our systems without any problems using the reliable IBM hardware and software technology.”
About IBM Business Analytics
IBM Business Analytics software delivers data-driven insights that help organizations work smarter and outperform their peers. This comprehensive portfolio includes solutions for business intelligence, predictive analytics and decision management, performance management, and risk management.
Business Analytics solutions enable companies to identify and visualize trends and patterns in areas, such as customer analytics, that can have a profound effect on business performance. They can compare scenarios, anticipate potential threats and opportunities, better plan, budget and forecast resources, balance risks against expected returns and work to meet regulatory requirements. By making analytics widely available, organizations can align tactical and strategic decision-making to achieve business goals.
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