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Desjardins General Insurance Speeds BI Initiative With Oracle Insurance Insight

Desjardins General Insurance ensures the success of its BI initiative through enterprise commitment, an emphasis on business competence And sound change management.

Given Canada's rigorous regulatory environment, Levi, Quebec-based Desjardins General Insurance has even less latitude on price than its counterparts south of the border. As such, the personal lines P&C carrier must compete through more tailored and exceptional customer service.

In order to work not just harder but smarter, says Sonia Sevo, VP of the carrier's business intelligence competency center (BICC), Desjardins (US$1.63 billion in gross written premium) embarked in 2009 on an initiative to build pervasive BI capabilities -- centered on the Oracle Insurance Insight (OII) solution -- across the company by 2015. Desjardins now is poised to beat that deadline by a wide margin, she reports.

The insurer is driving business decision support within a three-tier model, including on the strategic, tactical and operational levels, within three parallel sub-initiatives for corporate dashboards, claims and e-business/quoting, according to Sevo. "Our initial target was to have pervasive BI across the organization, an integrated view of data across our business and increased analytical capabilities by 2015," she recalls. "We're going to reach that objective by the end of 2012."

Desjardins' success is based to a significant extent on sound principles of BI implementation, beginning with a holistic, enterprisewide approach with full commitment from senior executive leadership, Sevo believes. "BI has to be managed as one big program, so we created a competency center," she relates. "I'm responsible for technology, processes and methodology, and program management, and I report into the senior VP for performance and innovation."

Laying the Foundation

Early on, Sevo says, Desjardins' BICC established an organizational structure, methodology and processes, and implemented data governance. Based on business requirements, the insurer selected the Oracle BI tool after an RFP process that began in May 2009. "Our selection committee consisted of 10 people, with only three from IT," Sevo reports. "We made sure that whatever tools we selected would integrate into our existing infrastructure, but we also made sure that it was not IT making the decision."

In her capacity as leader of the BICC, Sevo explains, she has specific accountability for ensuring relevant business people understand and acquire the skills necessary to use BI effectively. "I'm responsible for making sure that the business sectors we support have the skill set required within their teams to take full advantage of the information that they've been given -- and that they're actually using it," Sevo says. "We're creating scorecards that will generate some ROI, but the big return will be from how we analyze data toward better segmenting clients, improving underwriting, knowing more about our customers and achieving higher customer satisfaction."

Desjardins selected the OII solution in November 2009. The insurer quickly implemented new infrastructure, tools and the Oracle application and started extraction of policy and claims data for two of the three parallel BI projects. The claims and policy data is expected to be fully uploaded by the end of 2011, according to Sevo, who says the e-business/quoting will coincide with the next release of OII, as the current version only models policy and claim data. The carrier also has to address a lack of integration between quotes processed through the web and those processed via call center channels, she adds.

"In the meantime we're preparing for that with our source system, and this fall we will deliver two dashboards to fix that integration issue," Sevo explains. "We can then import a single stream of both call center and web to OII."

The BICC also is avoiding the common pitfall of providing dashboards without access to underlying transactional data, according to Sevo. "We're not only providing the dashboards, but also all the information used to create the measures within them," she says. Desjardins also has clearly indicated business responsibility for evaluating and utilizing the intelligence distributed via the dashboards, assigning one area responsibility for analyzing and acting on retention information or various measures related to claims, for example.

Vital to success, Sevo says, is a robust change management program, characterized by constant communication. "We are equipping the business with the tools they need, but we're also working with them to change their mentality of how they use data," she comments. "We're also making sure everybody knows who is responsible for what."

The design of OII, Sevo notes, fostered quicker development, because it includes an insurance-specific data model and because it forced Desjardins to tackle claims and policy data simultaneously to avoid integration challenges. As a result, the carrier implemented a policy and claims data warehouse within 18 months, she reports. "Hopefully, within a year this story will be about how we turned BI into a competitive advantage," Sevo remarks.

Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio

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