CIBC Insurance bets on business intelligence tools

With an eye on expanding its applications to other sectors of the enterprise, CIBC Insurance has implemented Cognos Series 7 to monitor, analyze and measure sales and marketing performance.

CIBC Insurance, a division of the Canadian

Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), selected the business intelligence solution to save its managers and remote sales force across Canada time and increase productivity.

Kal Omran, CIBC Insurance’s general manager of MIS and business operations in Toronto, said that before the implementation, the organization’s data was difficult to extract.

“”All of the elements were there, but the data was not accessible to the user,”” he said. “”It was a manual process that would take days, or depending on how complex it was, weeks or months.””

By the time the user got a hold on the information it was often too late, he explained. To rectify this, the organization built a data warehouse and is now using Cognos tools to build cubes of information.

“”Our business users now have the ability to go and look at the data themselves, analyze it and slice and dice it the way they want to in order to do their business,”” Omran said. Users can attach data to an e-mail or drill down into the data by downloading it to an application such as Excel, he said.

Leo Tucker, the director for banking solutions at Cognos in Atlanta, said that because the application is Web-based, the tool is optimal for field sales people working away from the branch. With this tool, he said, they can better understand what products are being sold across which geographies and which product lines are achieving profitability. “”By implementing marketing data, they can look at analysis by age or premium type and find ways to better understand marketing opportunities, “” Tucker said.

One bonus, Omran said, is that sales people with monthly and annual targets can track their sales using the Cognos solution as a measuring tool and senior managers can benchmark performance over time.

But sales and marketing is only the beginning for CIBC Insurance’s use of the tools, according to Omran. He said that the organization is looking to roll out the functionality for financial reporting and actuarial use.

“”We would like to get the tool on the desk of everybody that needs access to data and information,”” he said.

Tucker sees CIBC Insurance’s methodology for rolling out the tool to be typical of other organizations.

“”The ultimate step is for the entire enterprise to use the product, and we’d love to see that,”” Tucker said. “”But there has to be buy-in at the departmental level first.””

According to Omran, the learning curve was insignificant. CIBC Insurance provided a one-day training session for employees, but most did not find it difficult. “”Our sales people really like it so far,”” he said.

In terms of difficulties, Tucker said the data itself was the biggest hurdle.

“”The fact that they had several data sources was a challenge,”” he said. “”But this is the biggest challenge in any type of implementation.””

Warren Shiau, a research analyst for software at IDC Canada in Toronto, agreed.

“”With any knowledge management or business intelligence system, you need to pull data from different places in order to create these management looks or reports,”” he said, noting that a financial institution would typically have a fairly complex, heterogeneous environment.

However, because CIBC Insurance has had a long-time relationship with Cognos, the implementation and the transference of skill sets should have made the process easier.

“”If you’re a Cognos shop or an Oracle shop it makes sense to bring in more applications from the same vendor so that the modules and environments work together with no problem,”” Shiau said. “”BI is a category where you tend to go with the incumbent vendor rather than bring the competition in and start implementing BI in a piecemeal fashion — it would be much easier to get a cohesive, overall view of the organization.””


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