The South African insurer has consolidated customer data from 15 disparate sources into one worksite marketing information system that provides a 360-degree view of its customers for its advisors.Talk to just about any insurance executive whose company embarked on a customer relationship management (CRM) initiative in the early 1990s and you'll likely hear a similar story. "Dirty data" often played a key role in the failure of those projects to deliver the expected results.

That's what happened to Sanlam Life, a South African retail and group life insurer with (U.S.) $47 billion in assets under management.

After a number of internal CRM projects fell short of the company's objectives because of data reliability issues, the insurer decided to consolidate its customer data into a "single version of the truth" to support its worksite marketing programs.

After due diligence, Sanlam management chose Siperian Master Reference Manager, a customer data management platform from San Mateo, Calif.-based Siperian Inc.

"The primary driver behind implementing [the software] was to establish a single view of the client to facilitate cross-selling and up-selling opportunities," says Lynn Colledge, IT manager on Sanlam's business architecture team.

"We were looking for a solution that would enable us to consolidate 15 unique data sources to have a complete 360-degree view of our customers."

No code

Those 15 data sources included legacy administration, new client/server administration, financial and agency systems for the company's individual life and employee benefits businesses-as well as an external marketing intelligence database.

The company had a data warehouse in place for five years, but the data housed there was only 70% accurate at best. The warehouse, used only by a small group of analytic users, had no interface to Web-based applications.

"In order for our workplace marketing initiative to be successful, we had to implement a solution that would quickly consolidate our customer data into one trustworthy repository without the need for any custom code and without any impact on our operational systems," says Colledge.

In the first phase of deployment, Sanlam and Siperian merged four sources into a single data store in only three months.

The team implemented a process for automating and simplifying the ongoing management of information reliability, and consolidated overlapping and conflicting information, using a feature of the software that automatically determines the most reliable customer information culled from various sources.

Data stewards manage exceptions and maintain the overall integrity of the data based on business rules through an intuitive user interface. In addition to being rules-based, Siperian's data integration software is Web-enabled, and supports Sanlam's existing Microsoft architecture. The software reconciles and consolidates data sources in batch, scheduled or real-time modes.

Market penetration

Most important, Sanlam's advisors are now better able to sell and service Sanlam's more than 40 products through worksites. Those products include individual life, disability and savings plans, as well as group products, such as retirement fund administration and group life and disability.

Prior to building the worksite information system, it wasn't possible for the company to market and sell in a coordinated way, says Colledge.

"Having a consolidated view of the client enables advisors to thoroughly prepare for appointments, and the data is maintained in real-time, which enables the advisors to access it online at the client's premises."

The integration of customer data across the different Sanlam divisions also enabled the company to determine its market penetration. For example, of the more than 150,000 worksites in Sanlam's databases, the insurer had only penetrated 15,000-and, on average, it had sold only 1.3 products per worksite. These insights revealed a plethora of cross-selling opportunities for advisors.

Using this technology, Sanlam has developed close customer relationships, which enables its advisors to deliver new products that meet the specific needs of its customers, says Colledge.

"There is no doubt that the cross-selling and up-selling opportunities, identified through the availability of a single view of the client, provide us with a competitive advantage and has contributed to our increased sales," he says.

In fact, only nine months after deploying the rules-driven data consolidation software tool from Siperian, Sanlam has recouped its investment. And policies per advisor increased 13%, policy lapse time fell 30%, and premium income increased 15%.


* The problem:

After a number of internal customer relationship management (CRM) initiatives fell short of objectives, South African insurer Sanlam Life realized it had to improve its data reliability.

* The solution:

The company created a central repository of customer reference data from 15 different sources using Master Reference Manager from Siperian Inc., San Mateo, Calif.

* The results:

Premium income increased 15%. Policy lapse time reduced 30%. Policies per advisor increased 13%. Payback on the software occurred within 9 months.

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