REVIEWER:Bob Bell, SVP and CIO for Armed Forces Benefit Association (AFBA) .
BACKGROUND:AFBA was established in February 1947 with the approval of the Secretary of War, Robert Patterson. The Chief of Staff, General of the Army Eisenhower also approved the establishment of this nonprofit voluntary membership association to promote the general welfare and economic interests of its members and their families by providing superior benefits and services principally to military families during peace and war.
PLATFORMS:IBM AS/400, DB2, JBoss, WebSphere.
PROBLEM SOLVED:As AFBAs business has evolved into providing insurance, banking and investment services, so too has the number of information systems across the enterprise. Employees had to seek out answers from multiple systems, which was an enormous strain on productivity and efficiency. Employees had no efficient method for obtaining a consolidated view of a single customer. For instance, sales executives had no acceptable method for identifying existing customers that qualify for new product offerings, a classic up-sell/cross-sell activity. AFBA was losing out on a large amount of potential business, and its customers remained unaware of AFBAs competitive pricing on key financial services.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY:Nimaya virtually integrated AFBAs enterprise information systems from its insurance division with our hosted customer relationship management solution, Salesforce.com. ActionBridge creates enterprise data mashups of the information from behind AFBAs firewalls and that of Salesforce.com. The resulting mashups provide a comprehensive single view of each customer, across the enterprise in real time. With a single Web-based system that provides the information they need, IT staffers are less stressed to train new employees on how to use all of the different systems and where to find information, and instead can concentrate on maintaining existing systems. With their new-found self-sufficiency, employees are more productive and accomplish their tasks with more accuracy, efficiency and the confidence of knowing they have the most current and comprehensive information available to them. Additionally, business rules run automatically in the background and are triggered by certain predefined events and conditions. These rules then fire off alerts to account owners, with information such as the name of a customer that qualifies for a new product or a customer who is behind on payment, so account executives can proactively manage sales opportunities and mitigate any risks to account closures. The result is a sales team that produces more revenue and captures a potentially larger wallet share.
STRENGTHS:ActionBridge does not require us to have a central data hub. It can reach out to our individual systems and build customer profiles from multiple systems on the fly. The end-user interface is Web based, so we have nothing to install on our workstations, which makes our IT staff quite happy.
WEAKNESSES:We currently cannot change the data in the mashup and have the changes written back to the multiple source systems (though we are told this will be available in a future release) .
SELECTION CRITERIA:At first, AFBA investigated building a system in house to meet their needs. AFBA soon learned it is far more efficient to deploy the ActionBridge solution, which merely requires configuration in lieu of writing and maintaining programming code. An alternative was to create a massive centralized data hub where data would be sourced on a scheduled interval and moved into the hub for access. This approach seemed less agile and would burden an already busy IT department.
DELIVERABLES:ActionBridge provides us with a Web-based virtual customer data mashup that combines data from multiple back-end systems into a single screen. Additionally, our end users receive alerts based upon various business rules so they can proactively identify sales opportunities and risks.
VENDOR SUPPORT:The vendor provided us with on-site installation and configuration assistance, working directly with our various IT and business teams to identify our specific needs. They tailored the solution to fit within our existing IT systems, making sure our needs were met every step of the way. After their on-site assistance, they provided us with real-time support remotely as we tweaked and tuned the system further.
DOCUMENTATION:The user documentation provides us with additional insight into further building our implementation to extend beyond the initial project parameters. It also serves as a useful reference point to help us understand the various tools, interfaces and wizards.
7900 Westpark Drive, Suite T300
McLean, VA 22102
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