Aiming to become the top Swiss insurer and to enhance its position in other European markets, Helvetia set out to gain deeper insight into its strengths, and highlight where it could improve.
By migrating its SAP Business Warehouse reporting application to the ultra-powerful IBM® DB2® with BLU Acceleration® database, Helvetia unlocked highly valuable insight into every area of operation.
Up to 12xfaster data-loading and 20% quicker queries accelerate time-to-insight
Deepensunderstanding of customers, risk exposure, sales performance and more
60% further cutin already-compressed data volumes saves money on storage
Business challenge story
Going for gold
Over the past 150 years, Helvetia has evolved into a leading player on the Swiss insurance market, and expanded into other European countries. Embarking on the next chapter of its success story, the company has set its sights on becoming Switzerland’s top insurer and expanding its presence in other markets.
To meet its aims, the company has developed a strategy leading up to the year 2020, comprising three key elements. Firstly, Helvetia aims to become more customer-focused, by offering an increasingly personalized service, tailored towards people’s needs and desires. Secondly, the company is modernizing and digitizing more of its interactions with customers. Thirdly, the company is sharpening its agility, enabling rapid reaction to fast-moving developments in the insurance market. Together, these three initiatives will enable Helvetia to undergo a digital transformation of its entire business.
As the company digitizes its processes, it has begun to amass more data on customer interactions, which it can use to determine individuals’ specific requirements. As data volumes ballooned, performance of the SAP Business Warehouse reporting system slowed, jeopardizing the company’s ability to take fast, decisive action. To accelerate insight into its booming business, Helvetia needed to take its reporting capabilities to the next level.
Engaging the experts
Helvetia decided to migrate its SAP Business Warehouse system to the IBM® Db2® with BLU Acceleration® database, which delivers immense performance to slash query times.
Micha Altmeyer, Team Leader for SAP Application Management Services at Helvetia, remarks: “We have relied on IBM Db2 to support our mission-critical SAP applications for years. I am a big fan of the Db2 platform and I already knew about the features of Db2 with BLU Acceleration, so when we needed a performance boost, other options didn’t even come into play.”
Helvetia runs its other SAP applications on the standard IBM Db2 database. The landscape includes SAP ERP with modules for customer relationship management, finance, controlling, and human resources; SAP Reinsurance Management; SAP Investment Management for Insurance; SAP BusinessObjects; and SAP Solution Manager.
To support the mission-critical SAP systems, Helvetia relies on an IBM Power® System E870 server, which is virtualized using IBM PowerVM® technology and runs the IBM AIX® operating system. Data is stored on an IBM DS8000® device and backed up to an IBM Storwize® V7000 machine. The hardware resides in an IBM data center; the infrastructure, operating system, databases and SAP Basis administration are managed by IBM Services. IT personnel from Helvetia manage the SAP applications.
“We have been working with IBM Services for years, and they always do a stellar job,” comments Micha Altmeyer. “We’re very happy with the service we receive.”
Unearthing rich insight
By unleashing the massive power of IBM Db2 with BLU Acceleration, Helvetia has cut time-to-insight.
“Before we perform any analysis, we first need to load the data into our SAP Business Warehouse system,” explains Micha Altmeyer. “Thanks to Db2 with BLU Acceleration, we have shrunk data-loading times by 50 percent on average—with some data-loads running 12 times faster than before. What’s more, we have accelerated queries by 20 percent on average.
“By taking advantage of the compression features in standard Db2 and Db2 with BLU Acceleration, we have shrunk already-compressed data volumes by an additional 60 percent. By keeping data volumes small, we can save on storage infrastructure.”
With rapid data analytics, Helvetia is gaining game-changing insight into diverse areas of its business.
“We have built a sophisticated reporting solution to support customer relationship management, based on SAP BusinessObjects, SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio, SAP Customer Relationship Management and Db2 with BLU Acceleration,” adds Micha Altmeyer.
“Using that solution, each broker and salesperson can report on the number of client meetings they have held, how many deals they have signed, the value of those contracts and more. This gives managers a clear overview of how their employees are performing, so they can give tailored feedback and implement best practices in their teams. Managers can view breakdowns of sales figures by product, and assess current performance compared to annual targets, identifying areas where further efforts are needed.”
Micha Altmeyer continues: “We also report on our capital investments, looking at how our funds are distributed and the risk of each investment, and searching for opportunities for improvement.
“Using SAP and Db2 with BLU Acceleration, we perform complex planning calculations to decide how best to invest our capital in the future. To investigate how different market circumstances would shape the returns on our investments, we conduct scenario modelling, which involves layering lots of complex calculations on top of each other. Switching to Db2 with BLU Acceleration has helped us to boost system availability to ensure that these vital processes are completed smoothly and quickly.”
The introduction of Db2 with BLU Acceleration has enabled Helvetia to accelerate compliance reporting. As regulatory requirements constantly evolve, the powerful reporting engine will help the company to overcome any complex new compliance demands for years to come.
In future, Helvetia plans to perform detailed analysis of customer data to better understand and predict individuals’ needs and desires. With these insights, the company will be able to provide them with an even more personalized service.
Micha Altmeyer concludes: “Db2 with BLU Acceleration helps us gain deeper insight into our business—and do so faster than ever. As a result, we can make smarter decisions and react faster to new developments. As we pursue our helvetia 20.20 strategy and aim to strengthen our position across various European markets, the new solution will be an invaluable asset.”
Helvetia offers a broad range of insurance products to more than 5 million retail and corporate customers. Headquartered in St. Gallen, Switzerland, Helvetia has operations across the continent and employs around 6,500 people.
- Power Systems
- IBM Power Systems E870
- Power Systems running AIX
- Storage: Storwize V7000
- Storage: DS8000
- IBM-SAP Alliance
- GTS Strategic Outsourcing
Take the next step
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