In 2000, the Helvetia Patria Group found itself bogged down by a web of 15 different platforms, which presented a slew of major business challenges. The firm, established by the merger of two firms (the non-life insurer Helvetia with Patria Life Insurance), was operating in six different countries in four languages and depended heavily on paper processes. In addition, it was using a business-centric rather than a customer-centric approach.Based in St. Gallen in northeastern Switzerland near Austria, Helvetia Patria was struggling to optimize sales and distribution. Its tools and processes lacked standards and were highly fragmented and complicated for salespeople, among others, who had to switch between different applications and systems, and juggle the phone, fax and "snail mail."

"People lost a lot of time just in managing the different systems they had," says Didier Beck, head of Helvetia Patria's e-business center. "So we wanted to bring very easy-to-use and easy-to-understand processes to the [salespeople] so they could invest more time in building up their relationships with customers."

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