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How cloud solutions take the pain out of change

Senior Marketing Writer, IBM

Change is never easy. Though new performance management technologies offer modern business enhanced operational efficiencies and competitive advantage, their implementation can be sometimes challenging or distracting to an organization that must also focus on day-to-day business objectives.

CSOB Insurance, a leading European financial services provider based in the Czech Republic, successfully met these challenges when the organization decided to abandon its existing spreadsheet-based planning system. CSOB Insurance is a market leader in its region, employing more than 7,000 people and offering a complete portfolio of insurance products, including life, mortgage, household, automobile and travel insurance. But, being part of the larger Belgium-based KBC Group, CSOB Insurance needed a flexible planning system that would shorten reaction times when the parent company shifted strategy. Accordingly, spreadsheet-based planning was no longer fit for purpose.

http://www.ibmbigdatahub.com/sites/default/files/tm1oncloud_blog.jpgSuffering spreadsheet shortcomings

Spreadsheets can be a very useful business tool, but their shortcomings when used by large organizations are well known. The problems identified in CSOB Insurance’s spreadsheet-based system included the following:

  • Limited performance
  • Lack of detail
  • Lack of workflow functionality
  • Inadequate security

Beyond these problems, adds Petra Semeráková, head of controlling at CSOB Insurance, spreadsheets simply lacked the speed and capability to meet the organization’s modern business planning challenges: “We needed to align with our group strategy and management decisions. With spreadsheets, reacting quickly was a real challenge—it could take weeks of recalculation and manual work to adjust our plans.”

Taking the pain out of change

IBM Cognos TM1, an industry-leading planning solution, was one of the first options considered by CSOB Insurance. As Petra Semeráková notes, IBM Cognos “was already our group-wide platform for financial consolidation and reporting”; moreover, she continues, “we had good experience [with] IBM Business Analytics software.” Nevertheless, implementing an entirely new system was—understandably—seen as a challenge by the decision makers at CSOB Insurance.

But IBM Cognos TM1 on Cloud neatly eliminated that pain point. The advantages offered by this cloud-based solution—rapid deployment for immediate business use, with no disruption to the daily workflow of the organization—made it “an especially appealing option” for CSOB Insurance. In Semeráková’s words, “CSOB was transforming its business in many areas—and asking our IT team and users to absorb yet another new system was a challenge. A big advantage of IBM Cognos TM1 on Cloud was that it could be deployed rapidly, without disruption, and could deliver benefits to our users quickly.”

IBM Cognos TM1 on Cloud provides CSOB Insurance with agility unprecedented in the organization, enabling the company to quickly align business priorities with new corporate directives. CSOB Insurance entirely outsources day-to-day management and maintenance of the solution, retaining only a single administrator to load data into the system. Business users at CSOB Insurance, who no longer need to wait for IT support, can create plans and model potential scenarios more quickly and more easily than they’ve ever been able to. This capability puts the planning process firmly in the hands of business and finance users, resulting in accurate, timely decision-making. As Semeráková concludes, “Recalculating our annual plan would have taken weeks of painful manual work in the past. Now it can be achieved in just a few days.”

Read CSOB Insurance’s description of the benefits brought by IBM Cognos TM1 on Cloud, and learn more about how IBM Cognos TM1 on Cloud can enhance your organization’s financial planning.