Business Intelligence Comes of Age: How Risk Managers with Henkel and Turner Construction Are Enhancing Reporting and Analytics Capabilities
Bottom line, getting a secure grip on company data has moved center stage in the risk management continuum. If an organization can manage its data effectively and creatively, it increases the odds of avoiding claims and achieving other successes within risk management.
With that trend in mind, Aon eSolutions, the technology solutions division of Aon Corporation, is now offering its customers a business intelligence tool (leveraging the IBM Cognos 8 system) as a critical component of RiskConsole, the company's market-leading browser-based risk management information system.
Launched in 2001, Aon RiskConsole remains a pioneering effort in the Software as a Service (SaaS) model, allowing clients to focus on managing their risk and not their system infrastructure. Utilized by more than 100,000 users in 40 countries, RiskConsole is designed to give users a timely, relevant and integrated risk profile view across the enterprise. Now, with the business intelligence tool, RiskConsole users receive an added a layer of power in building an effective risk management strategy.
REDUCING TCOR: RISK MANAGEMENT'S HOLY GRAIL
Kathleen Burns, Aon eSolutions' chief executive officer, explains that RiskConsole's business intelligence reporting solution provides cross-functional business modeling capabilities that help business users and risk management departments analyze and identify the factors that can reduce the total cost of risk (TCOR)--risk management's Holy Grail.
"Collecting and consolidating risk data in a RMIS is a crucial step to understanding the factors driving the total cost of risk, as well as helping an organization make informed decisions," says Burns. "Now, RiskConsole's browser-based business intelligence tool addresses business-side demands for actionable information, usability, accessibility and control without compromising IT standards for security, conformance and flexibility."
RiskConsole's business intelligence tool delivers powerful analytic capabilities, interactive executive-level dashboards, superior ad-hoc query capabilities and report writing capabilities to better measure and monitor performance against business objectives. In addition, the business intelligence tool:
-- Provides users with the ability to view data broadly or as detailed as an individual claim, policy, property, driver, employee or vehicle record.
-- Increases the reach of business intelligence by attracting more business users, engaging them with a dynamic interactive business intelligence experience.
-- Improves alignment between strategy and operations, advanced analytics and strategic planning.
RISK MANAGERS CALL FOR DATA CONSOLIDATION AND MANAGEMENT
According to Burns, findings from Aon eSolutions' inaugural Global Risk Technology Survey (aon-esolutions.com/grts), the first of its kind in the risk management industry, conclusively prove that data management is on every risk manager and CFO's radar screen.
In fact, the 2009 Global Risk Technology Survey reports that data consolidation and management ranked as the second most important benefit of implementing a risk technology.
"Some organizations will exchange real-time data or run data into their system several times per day; others once per month or even once per year," Burns says. "An effective risk technology can meet these widely varying needs. And that's precisely the thinking our new business intelligence tool within RiskConsole.
"Data must not only be consolidated, it also must be integrated so that it tells a clear story and provides an accurate outline of the organization's risk profile, leading to greater business and risk intelligence," she adds.
Plus, explains says Phillip Lucas, RiskConsole global product director with Aon eSolutions, understanding as well as lowering TCOR can have a substantial financial impact on an organization. Business analytics can help risk manager and CFOs reach that objective.
TOP-DOWN ANALYTICS: DRILLING DOWN TO THE ISSUES DRIVING TCOR
"Perhaps the most important feature of the business intelligence tool is it allows users to have much more ability and flexibility to do 'top down' analytics, to drill into the issues driving TCOR," says Lucas. "It delivers a richer, more precise data management experience."
Lucas explains that apart from making better risk management strategy decisions, business intelligence tools also make a risk management professional's job easier, by allowing them to focus on the risks, not the fringe factors. To meet that goal, Aon eSolutions partnered with several current RiskConsole customers to shape the business intelligence application.
"We worked with people who have used RiskConsole's reporting tool in the past, but they also are very plugged into analytics as an emerging, real solution," Lucas says. "We did our best to get a cross section of clients to build this from the ground up."
Lucas says risk managers are being challenged to maintain control over the enterprise's constantly changing risk profile. Fueled by the growing regulatory reporting requirements, that challenge drives the need for a better solution to manage the volumes of critical data typically found in silos throughout the organization.
Demand for powerful business intelligence tools has peaked in recent years for three key reasons. For one, many organizations have wanted a business intelligence solution, but their data was scattered and not within a single system. Today, central data repositories have been completed for most organizations. So it's time to start making optimal use of that information by gaining a true understanding of TCOR.
Second, companies are now being asked to do more with less. Streamlined workforces mean fewer people run reports. Yet, business leaders don't want to wait weeks or months for answers.
Finally, today's younger workers are proficient and comfortable using technical systems, and as they move into risk management roles, they want to be self-sufficient rather than passing the job off to the IT team.
BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE AT WORK: TURNER CONSTRUCTION
David Lawton, director of information technology at New York City-based Turner Construction Company, ranked number one in General Building in 2009, participated in beta testing for the RiskConsole business intelligence tool. Lawton reports that using business intelligence provides Turner with an added layer of data control and flexibility to help build toward one of their goals, subcontractor management.
"If we find that we have a subcontractor that is safe on multiple projects we can be pretty certain that they also are going to be safe on others," Lawton says. "Our objective is to get all risk related data online and easy to access, so there is no need to search source data files and disparate databases for information."
Lawton explains that Turner, by its nature, may have one of the more complex scenarios for RiskConsole, as Turner uses it for many reasons, not just risk management. But using the business intelligence tool in beta has added another dimension to their RiskConsole experience, Lawton says.
For example, while RiskConsole already includes a robust reporting tool, Turner can't always weave different components of the application together into a seamless data flow.
"Sometimes we need to run three different queries using the standard tool, and then have to drop it all into Microsoft Access or Excel to blend disparate data together," he says. "A business analytics tool delivers more power in terms of being able to join that data together up front, so you have a more full-blown reporting package."
Another possible use for a business analytics tool would be to create a complex report natively, one that would, for example, tie premium to claims to subcontractors and then use a "report bursting" function to send reports out to the appropriate managers.
Using business analytics, Lawton says, complex reports that might take one to two days to put together each month can be done just once, on the front end, and updated and distributed monthly.
"You go through the effort once and when it's done it's done," he says. "You just set the schedule and the system would send that report out. Business analytics tools can deliver those types of advantages, which are very useful from Turner's perspective."
BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE AT WORK:
THE HENKEL EXPERIENCE
Effectively using data also is also top of mind to David I. Schwartzer, risk manager at Henkel, a Fortune Global 500 company that markets a wide range of well-known consumer and industrial brands in North America, including Dial soaps, Purex laundry detergents, and Loctite adhesives.
"The RiskConsole business intelligence tool is clearly a very powerful reporting application," Schwartzer says. "During the testing period, it has given us the ability to report and summarize our data in ways that were not possible using the existing tools within RiskConsole." Schwartzer reports that Henkel's risk management team was able to extract more meaningful data and create custom reports that can be easily modified. "The better a system is at allowing a user to interrogate the data and learn from it, the more users benefit. The business intelligence tool is very powerful in that regard."
In addition to creating reports in much greater detail, Schwartzer notes, the business intelligence tool has improved the efficiency and comprehensiveness of Henkel's processes for renewing insurance programs. "I expect we'll save weeks of work in the renewals process," Schwartzer observes. "The business intelligence tool makes it easier to extract the necessary data, generate consistently clean data, and then build reports through automated processes. The extensive reporting capabilities help us ensure that we have a complete, fully accurate view of our groups of policies in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico."
Schwartzer says the ability to create custom defined ranges and perform calculations within the report has decreased the amount of time spent manually manipulating data in Microsoft Excel after being downloaded from a query. He also likes the business intelligence tool's display capability.
"Being able to see the output display as you add new data elements into the report saves a lot of time and avoids a lot of changes that would otherwise be required," he explains. "Now, a user can display data the way they see fit without having to manually manipulate it in another program."
Finally, Schwartzer says the business intelligence tool user interface is, on balance, clean and very well organized.
"All in all, the business intelligence reporting tool is a great improvement above the existing reporting tools in RiskConsole, and has saved us countless hours of manual data manipulation," he says, adding that Henkel could see the business intelligence tool replacing the current RiskConsole reporting function.
"Overall, we think the business intelligence tool is very powerful and off to a great start," he says. "It will certainly enhance RiskConsole."
(The above piece is part of our continuing Insights series designed to highlight key products and services to our readers. This paid-for Insights was written and edited by Risk & Insurance®
on behalf of our marketing partner. Additional Insights can be found on our Web site at www.riskandinsurance.com/.)
April 28, 2010
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