BI reporting tool gives Iffco Tokio a headstart

BI reporting tools are quickly taking over from Excel. Explore how Iffco Tokio, the general insurance major in India, benefited with BI reporting.

 IFFCO Tokio General Insurance began experimenting with various business intelligence (BI) reporting tools in September 2010, and realizing the value the technology offers, decided to implement one. Today, with its centralized IT setup in Gurgaon, the BI reporting team at India’s leading insurance provider is responsible for generating MIS and other business critical reports using QlikView.

The challenges that led to BI

Prior to BI implementation, there were multiple Excel spreadsheets used at IFFCO Tokio for reporting. This often led to confusion and delayed decision making. Data extraction was another cumbersome activity and also a non-standard process. Due to this, new recruits often found it difficult to review the reports. The management also felt a need to have a tool that would ensure single version of data to base its decisions on.

In the insurance business, ‘claims’ is an important process that involves various sub-processes. Cost comparison between surveyors, monitoring the turnaround time (TAT) of surveyors, generating the statutory reports, maintaining surveyors’ rotation register, validation of paid, outstanding, and intimated claims, are some of these important areas. The management at IFCCO decided to experiment with BI so as to measure the efficiency of these processes and also to compare the efficiency
levels of its units.

Other bottlenecks

Given the high competition in the Indian insurance sector, the companies need to focus on channels, markets, and products that are profitable. Earlier, since Excel was the only tool used primarily, the analysis required to identify these right targets was complex. Moreover, as such analyses were carried out only once in a year, they could not deliver desired results.

Business challenges and requirements in a gist:

  1. One version of the data (for example, about premia) needed to prevail for decision making 
  2. Profitability across geographies and channels required scrutiny 
  3. Client experience needed to be improved 
  4. Claims and performance of surveyors required analysis to determine business strategy 
  5. Marketing team needed help to delve deeper to come up with appropriate policies and programs

The scoop

For BI report generation, the insurer gathers information from source systems like Oracle Siebel CRM, IBM DB2, and a few home grown data marts. These reports are accessed and used by the top management, finance and accounts, sales, and claims-processing department, in addition to marketing team which was the key stakeholder in the BI reporting project.

Prior to finalizing on QlikView, IFFCO Tokio evaluated other BI reporting vendors including Maia Intelligence (1Key), IBM (Cognos), Open Software Technology (Kautilya), and Microstrategy. The vendor evaluation process involved examining the following aspects:

1.     Ease of setup for ETL process

2.     Compression factor

3.     User friendliness

4.     Ease of user adoption

5.     Stability

6.     Speed of dimensional querying (changing between reports)

QlikView scored higher than others on parameters such as graphical user interface, ease of use, and speed of querying. Moreover, its being a RAM based product, QlikView was also believed to be scalable. “We wanted an intuitive product that required very little training. The objective was to reduce our time to market,” recalls Sumesh Mahendra, vice president and head of business processes and business intelligence at IFCCO Tokio General Insurance.

Following experimentation through a proof of concept (PoC) in September 2010, IFFCO implemented the solution. The project was completed in 2011 with the help of the implementation partner, Team Computers. During PoC phase, IFCCO’s BI project team generated reports based on real business data to vet the ability of the tool to build required analytics and ensure user acceptance.

Implementation hiccups

“The biggest hurdle was steering the users away from Excel reporting. Even though the BI product didn’t need much training, we had to pay attention to teaching and changing mind sets,” explains UC Dubey, executive director (IT) at IFFCO Tokyo General Insurance. Other issues that had to be crossed were data quality and cleansing. These were addressed with the  ‘association’ feature of the product that helped locate duplicate and incomplete data. “To keep the data clean we also had to alter processes at the back end,” adds Mahendra.

Fruits of labor

QlikView’s BI reporting tool has now given the company the ability to look at information on a daily basis and examine it from different dimensions (read: segments, markets, products, agents, etc.). Moreover, such analysis can be done by marketing personnel at all levels in the company.

BI reporting tool has also benefited the company’s investors and has thus proved a leveler. The information dissemination allows the management to do a root-cause analysis of problems and take quick corrective actions before the problems have any adverse effect on the company’s financials.

Following the implementation, flat reporting is out at IFFCO Tokio and has been replaced by dimensional data. Reports have become insightful, thus transforming the insurance provider into a data driven organization. The BI tool has helped the company to improve transparency in operations and to reduce its dependency on the IT team for reporting. Geo-mapping of data, i.e. seeing data on live maps, is another important functionality the tool offers to IFFCO’s teams.

“The top management is pleased with the tool. The officials can use the dashboards to drill down and skim through the data. Officers can access reports directly from the dashboard. The organization’s trust in the data and confidence in BI reporting have increased,” says Mahendra.

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