Adam Gartenberg's Blog

Business Analytics and Optimization, IBM and Social Marketing

IOD EMEA - My takeaways from the Irish Life & Permanent session


One of the sessions I attended on Thursday at IOD EMEA was delivered by Irish Life & Permanent, and described how they've gone about bringing together multiple backend systems post-merger to create a single customer view.  I found the session and the insights shared fascinating, and wanted to pass on my notes.  (Unfortunately, by this time of the day my laptop battery was drained and so I couldn't take notes live.)  And I just double-checked and we do have a case study on them available online, too.

As a result of the merger, Irish Life & Permanent found themselves with multiple client databases, which not only complicated things on the back end, but it meant that customers found themselves needing to sign in multiple times with multiple pins just to get their account information (even though they were now dealing with "one" company).  It also meant that if they wanted to update their address or other personal information, they'd have to manually do it for each account.  Needless to say, this was not the kind of customer experience they wanted to deliver.

The session began with overall suggestions for managing a project such as this, including:

  • Analyze the data
  • Create a high level vision
  • Develop a communications plan
  • Prepare a business case (although he noted that they never actually got asked for it - their management saw this as critical enough that they just knew it had to be done)
  • Take an incremental phased approach (and he highlighted the incremental part - you don't just want a phased approach, you want to be sure that as you proceed you're building off the previous phases)

They sought advice from analysts before they got started

They chose a MDM solution from IBM, composed of IBM WebSphere Customer Center and IBM Information Server .

The IBM installed base was very important in their decision, especially other large financial institutions that are using it.

Coming back to the business case again, the CEO of the company really viewed their customer data as a strategic asset.  As he put it, to be a retailer, you have to understand your customers.

The goal of this first phase of the project was to create a hub for key client data, with the goal being to standardize a subset of of the essential, shared client data such as name, address, contact information, birth date.  This hub would then be used to update data across all of the backend data repositories and ensure they all were in synch going forward (so if, for example, a client submitted an address change for one product, it would automatically be updated in all the databases).

IBM Information Server was used to standardize names and addresses across all of the data repositories and to remove duplicates.  (They've deleted around 250,000 duplicate records already.)

Now that "the plumbing" is done, they can look at additional benefits - such as allowing a customer to come to the website and see all of their accounts at once instead of having to enter 7 different. PIN numbers to see all of their policies or accounts.

They plan to put MDM hub into the Warehouse for business intelligence

As I said at the top, I found it really fascinating to hear described not only how much value they saw in this initiative, but how quickly they got it done (I want to say it was around a year - or maybe 18 months? - start to finish.)  Thank you for sharing your story!

More information:  Case study on Irish Life & Permanent