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Vicki Gerson
Vicki Gerson
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La Suisse Drives Decisions With Spotfire

Using the vendor's DecisionSite software, insurer gains a 'common understanding' of its sales data to drive new business.

La Suisse Insurance Company, part of Suisse Life (Lausanne, Switzerland), the second largest insurance group in the world, was losing time and money by requiring sales managers to wade through a cumbersome, static Excel spreadsheet-based system in order to analyze sales data and spot new opportunities. It needed a user-friendly solution that would provide quick follow-up on sales activities and serve as a vehicle to increase sales.

La Suisse, a life and property insurer for individuals and small and mid-size companies, serves all of Switzerland through its sales branches and brokers. Several years ago, Gabriel Fuchs, senior manager of the insurer's sales and marketing department, was charged with finding a better way to analyze data in its Balanced Scorecard, which tracks sales against corporate objectives and goals.

Common Understanding

Because each of La Suisse's 20 sales branches, plus many of its smaller offices, often created their own statistics, it was difficult to discuss enterprise-wide objectives, including sales figures, from a common point of understanding. Also, with the previous solution, some statistics were simply not available or were difficult to interpret due to poor user interfaces. This impeded efficiency, especially when it came to performance management and cost-saving activities. "Change was necessary in order to improve some important processes, increase our reactivity when changes occurred and to be able to better focus on costs," Fuchs relates.

Fuchs decided to implement Spotfire's DecisionSite analytic software to replace the aging Excel system in December 2001. Since he was familiar with the DecisionSite solution and knew what the users wanted, Fuchs forwent formal RFPs. "The product had to be easy-to-use, easy-to-administrate and have good integration with Excel. Based on this information, demonstrations to future users and knowledge about other competitive tools in the marketplace, we felt this was the right product for our company," he asserts.

Because La Suisse wanted the solution up and running quickly, Fuchs started with what he had. He took available data from the operational systems (mainly running on an IBM AS/400 platform) and linked it to a Microsoft Access Database that then fed DecisionSite. With the new solution, fewer IT resources are needed to develop aggregated and calculated data, Fuchs says, as this can be handled by a few designated administrators on the user side. The first two applications - tracking sales figures by sales person, product, date and geography and the follow-up on set sales targets using a Balanced Scorecard interface - were up and running in just weeks, by February 2002.

Speak the Same Language

Using DecisionSite, La Suisse sales branch managers and administrators can quickly analyze key sales indicators to determine how products are selling across customer types and geographical regions, adjusting sales strategies accordingly, Fuchs says. The implementation cost one-half of one percent of the IT budget, he adds, and has resulted in both time and cost savings.

The insurance company has been able to calculate significant returns on its investment. One application of the solution that allows managers to track who sold what and when has an estimated ROI of 300 percent; Fuchs says another application that allows the carrier to check on sales people who have received advances to see if the advances are being covered by sales has an estimated ROI of 200 percent to 800 percent. The less-tangible - but no less valuable - effect, however, is that employees are "speaking the same language," he asserts.

"Given the surprisingly good return on our investment and the satisfaction of our users, the results have clearly exceeded our expectations," Fuchs points out. "Furthermore, we have gone on to implement other Spotfire applications that we didn't imagine when we first started with the product, such as budget control for certain activities and forecasted revenues for our life insurance business."



La Suisse Insurance Co. (Suisse Life; Lausanne, Switzerland); 1.2 billion Swiss Francs in revenue (U.S. $936 million).


P&C and group and individual life.


Spotfire's (Somerville, Mass.) DecisionSite analytic application.


Gain quick and easy tracking and follow-up on sales activities.

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