Business Intelligence

By Bob Violino  |  Posted 2009-03-02 Email Print this article Print


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Business intelligence and analytics, enterprise risk management and virtualization are critical technologies for success in today’s insurance market.

Business Intelligence, an online independent auto insurance agency in Solon, Ohio, has used BI software since 2004. In 2008, it deployed IBM Cognos Now!, a BI application that allows continuous monitoring of operational metrics.

The firm, which allows consumers to link directly to the rating systems of more than a dozen insurance companies, depends heavily on its Internet delivery model. So it needed an application to monitor all IT systems and ensure that they are running at peak performance, says Scott Noerr, director of IT services. uses information gathered from its BI system to identify potential performance issues before they affect critical business systems. Aside from ensuring systems reliability, the BI technology is used to optimize computing capacity in the company’s sales center, which operates seven days a week and is staffed with insurance agents licensed in 47 states.

Prior to using the IBM Cognos software, used a homegrown application that monitored systems health and generated event logs when there were issues. But it couldn’t integrate data from various systems, and IT struggled to determine what was causing issues, who had taken ownership of them and whether they were resolved, Noerr recalls.

“The starting point for us was to monitor the performance of our technology platform—the engine for [comparing] car insurance quotes from our 15 insurance company partners,” Noerr says. Alerts from multiple sources, such as third-party vendors, insurance companies and internal systems, were integrated, and rules were established for notifications.

The interface was customized to provide reports with different views for different users. The IT staff is able to respond quickly to issues because the dashboard pinpoints issues quickly and precisely, says Joe Singleton, vice president of IT at

With the BI application, the firm can monitor all critical applications in its production environment and get an accurate view of system performance. Dashboards provide up-to-the-minute key performance indicators, such as Web traffic throughput, business throughput and general traffic data.



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