In its attempt to create an enterprisewide view of its customers, the numbers were stacked heavily against New York City-based MetLife Inc.: a customer base amassing 100 million customer records stored in more than 30 disparate back-office systems.Furthermore, MetLife has three vastly diverse organizations-a retail bank, a mutual fund company and a newly-acquired property/casualty insurer. Data is spread across five different lines of business-property/casualty insurance, banking, institutional, brokerage and mutual funds.

As it evolved from a traditional insurance company to an integrated financial services provider, this degree of operational fragmentation had to somehow be wrapped together by a solution that provided a single consolidated portfolio.

MetLife found the ties that bind-and them some-when it paid an undisclosed sum to license an integrated, Web-based and real-time CRM solution developed by Toronto-based DWL Inc. When all is said and done, MetLife expects the solution will enhance its long-term profitability. But equally as important, as MetLife scouts for viable acquisitions in the marketplace, DWL Customer and DWL Unifi will combine to ensure fast and painless data integration as acquisitions come to fruition, says Tony Candito, CIO of the individual business for MetLife.

Intended to support 100 million customer records and eventually 250 million by 2010, DWL Customer's role is to consolidate customer information from MetLife's five lines of business-leveraging older administration systems and eventually creating a foundation for other business management tools, such as data mining, one-to-one marketing and traditional CRM execution.

All customer transactions from the 30 administration systems flow through DWL Unifi, which manages the "golden" copy of all customer information, interaction history, party-to-party relationships and customer-product roles.

With a centralized client record, MetLife can derive short-term and long-term benefits, Candito says. For the short term, the technology might be able to determine that a policyholder is a low net-worth customer on one of the contracts he owns, but is a high net-worth customer on another product he doesn't yet own. As a result, a MetLife affiliate can recognize the opportunity and then capitalize through cross-selling.

From a long-term perspective, the technology can address service. This can be derived through providing customers with anytime/anywhere access to service across multiple touch points. "This will effectively help us maintain a competitive advantage against major financial institutions," Candito adds.

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