Microsoft Server Product Portfolio
Customer Solution Case Study
/ IT Services Provider Transforms Insurers’ Data Analysis Needs with New BI Solution
Country or Region:Italy
Industry:Professional services—IT services
Ge.Si.ass., based in Milan, Italy, provides IT services management for Italian insurers Nationale Suisse and Helvetia. The firm manages IT services for 10,000 users.
Helvetia and Nationale Suisse sought a new analysis and reporting solution that offered more flexibility, faster response times, and improved scalability.
Ge.Si.ass. deployed a business intelligence solution based on Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and including SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services and SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services technologies.
- Offers low-cost, high-quality solution
- Provides real-time business data
- Supports further expansion
Marco Sacco, Director of Information Systems, Ge.Si.ass.
Ge.Si.ass., an Italian IT solution provider, provides a range of software and application management services to Nationale Suisse and Helvetia, two large Italian insurance firms. The two companies wanted to find new analysis and reporting technology that offered more flexibility, faster response times, and better scalability. To address these business needs, Ge.Si.ass. implemented a new business intelligence (BI) solution based on Microsoft SQL Server 2008, including SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services and SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services. With the new technologies in place, Nationale Suisse and Helvetia now have a low-cost solution that gives managers access to real-time mission-critical business data. The success of the solution has led to an expansion into other business areas.
Headquartered in Milan, Italy, Ge.Si.ass. is a technology services provider to Nationale Suisse and Helvetia, two of the country’s leading insurance companies. In addition to developing software applications and deploying technologies for Nationale Suisse and Helvetia,Ge.Si.ass. serves as administrator of the two companies’ networks and hardware systems, clients, server computers, user profiles, anddisaster recovery and security policies. It is also responsible for facility management and project management.
Ge.Si.ass. provides four other companieswith services as well, including the management of 600 fixed and mobile devices and more than 900 printers. In total, the company manages IT services for 10,000 users.
Recently, Nationale Suisse and Helvetia requested that Ge.Si.ass. implement a new analysis and reporting system for both companies. The two companies wanted to upgrade the previous business intelligence (BI) solution, which was based on several SAP systems including BusinessObjects, MIK, NetWeaver Business Warehouse, and an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. This solution had been running on a 64-bit version of Microsoft SQL Server 2005 data management software.
Specifically, Nationale Suisse and Helvetia needed a new solution that provided greater flexibility, faster response times, and improved scalability to handle future business growth. “We discarded the idea of expanding the MIK and BusinessObjects systems because of the inherent complexity and resulting costs of development,” says Andrea Oggioni, Manager of the Internal Organization, Processes, and Projects Area, Ge.Si.ass. “Additionally, expanding those systems would have only solved the immediate problems, without offering real possibilities for further development.”
Ge.Si.ass. decided to implement a new solution based on Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services and SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services analysis tools, which would integrate with the insurance companies’ mission-critical ERP, database, and reporting systems.
Ge.Si.ass was specifically interested in choosing Microsoft because much of the company’s application environment is already based on Microsoft products. “If we exclude a mainframe that we are phasing out, our application environment is largely based on Microsoft, including SQL Server 2005, BizTalk Server, Microsoft Office, and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server,” says Marco Sacco, Director of Information Systems, Ge.Si.ass.
Oggioni says, “Choosing Microsoft technologies for the warehouse and business intelligence data would ensure a smooth evolution of analysis tools in light of further demands from the business, and would also integrate naturally with the new database being created.”
The process of designing and deploying the new BI system was allocated to the Ge.Si.ass. Internal Organization, Processes, and Project Department, under the operational guidance of Giorgio Mammino.
Mammino formed a team to work together with end users and advisers. The team worked with very detailed solution specifications from the Nationale Suisse and Helvetia Life Insurance departments, including precise definitions of the content and layout required for each report. Prior to deploying the solution, a Ge.Si.ass. team conducted a thorough analysis of the operational and technical characteristics of the Microsoft technologies.
After creating the solution prototype and analyzing the data coming from the SAP systems, the implementation team set up a new data warehouse, which handles 1 terabyte of data each day. The warehouse includes online analytical processing (OLAP) cubes for defining different types of reports. The solution uses SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services tools to produce static reports. It also uses Microsoft Excel 2010 spreadsheet software to link calculation worksheets directly to OLAP cubes, giving users the ability to access real-time data. Nationale Suisse and Helvetia employees required little training on the new solution, because they already had experience with Excel.
Managing complex data from the ERP system has been greatly simplified with Microsoft SQL Server 2008. “SQL Server 2008 helps us load the data very quickly,” says Sacco. “In addition to the absence of operational problems, these results have convinced us to continue with the migration of all our databases to SQL Server 2008.”
The new Microsoft solution gives Nationale Suisse and Helvetia a cost-effective, high-quality business intelligence solution that gives management access to real-time business data. Based on the success of the solution, both companies have requested that Ge.Si.ass. extend the solution to other business areas.
Offers Low-Cost, High-Quality Solution
The new solution in place at Nationale Suisse and Helvetia has already proven to be more cost-effective than the previous solution. For example, the Ge.Si.ass. management team reports that the database, data warehouse, and reporting technology provide a better ratio between cost and quality.
Nationale Suisse and Helvetia also expect to spend less in hardware costs. “The data partitioning and compression features in Microsoft SQL Server 2008 have ensured excellent system performance and removed the need for further investments in hardware,” says Sacco. “This would not have been possible with the previous version or with other technologies because of the complexity of the data stored in the SAP tables.”
Provides Real-Time Business Data
Management at Nationale Suisse and Helvetia can now use SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services tools and Excel 2010 calculation worksheetslinked to OLAP cubes to produce up-to-date reports. Using these new analytical tools, managers have access to real-time business data and can easily make historical comparisons on business information from previous years. As a result, managers at both companies can make more timely business decisions.
By deploying the new BI solution, Ge.Si.ass. has also given the two companies the ability to easily respond to future data analysis requirements coming from the SAP environment and comingfrom technical management during implementation.
Supports Further Expansion
Because Nationale Suisse and Helvetia are completely satisfied with their new Microsoft analytical tools, the companies have asked Ge.Si.ass. to expand the solution to meet the demands of other business lines. In fact, Ge.Si.ass. has begun to extend the solution’s data extraction and analysis models to cover the needs of the Helvetia claims department. To make this happen, the organization is using the same SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services and SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services instruments used in the Life Insurance departments, reconfigured to handle the different business requirements.
“We are continuing our investment in SQL Server 2008 in order to unify the majority of the companies’ business intelligence systems on Microsoft technologies,” says Sacco. “This way, we will obtain business benefits thanks to more advanced features, and we will achieve an economic advantage in systems management as a result of the complete uniformity of the solution’s development and management features.”
Oggioni adds, “This project has triggered further development of the reporting instruments, including the definition of an organizational model that improves the use of an advanced technology by decisionmakers at higher levels,During the implementation, we were able to fully understand the potential of the Microsoft business intelligence products, which responded simply and effectively to the analysis requirements for Nationale Suisse and Helvetia.”
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