The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. is one of the nation's largest international insurance and financial services operations with 1999 revenues of $13.5 billion. The company is a leading provider of automobile and homeowner coverage; commercial property and casualty insurance; reinsurance; and a variety of life insurance, investment products, employee benefits, group retirement plans and institutional liability funding products. Hartford Commercial, one of the company's largest divisions with more than $3 billion in premiums, currently has millions of names in its customer and prospect databases.

The Challenge

In order to launch a series of targeted marketing campaigns, Hartford Commercial needed to integrate customer and prospect data that was coming from disparate data sources in several different formats. This data had nothing in common but name and address, and the quality of the data was suspect. Inaccurate and incomplete customer information made it very difficult to launch effective marketing campaigns, so the company set about to clean the data.

Initially, the Hartford outsourced its customer data management function to database vendors. This turned out to be extremely expensive because the consultants were charging high rates to run many of the same routines over and over again. Business rule customization for cleansing and matching functions was also time-consuming and expensive.

The Solution

The Hartford decided to build its own data warehouse and bring the data management function in house. The data warehouse gathers and integrates The Hartford's customer and prospect data, and an integral part of this solution is the data quality system. The Hartford purchased this solution from Trillium Software. The Trillium Software System cleanses and standardizes customer records then matches them to eliminate duplicates and create groups of records called households. These records are then matched against third-party data provided by Experian to enhance the data further. With clean and standardized data, the database is able to provide a comprehensive and up-to-the-minute view of every customer and prospect ­ which is at the heart of a successful marketing strategy.

The decision to build a new data warehouse was a joint one between IT and the business units. All parties realized that it was critical to reduce expenses and speed data handling time. The project team consisted of internal IT personnel. We found that the most successful team players are hybrids ­ analytical and technical employees ­ with a clear understanding of the business.

The Technology

The Hartford installed four modules from the Trillium Software System ­ the Converter, Parser, Geocoder and Matcher. Trillium's Parser identifies and standardizes customer data and the Global Geocoder validates, corrects and enhances geographic and address information. Data comes from various operating systems, both within and outside the company, and is transported to and from the Trillium Windows NT server via The Hartford's wide area network (WAN), enabling users to have access to Trillium functions from around the company. Trillium includes a first-of-its-kind, Java-based development GUI to make any business rule tuning and customization a simple task.

The Hartford was able to leverage its existing technology investments by allowing data from any source to be processed in a manner that ensures consistent standards and results. To enhance the data cleansing and matching function, Trillium also supplies a set of best practices business rules that have been developed over its 30 years of cleansing and matching customer and other data. This built-in intelligence enabled The Hartford to implement the solution quickly and with minimal effort. Further, Trillium's business rules are English text-based files, so The Hartford has easily customized Trillium to meet a variety of needs.

The Results

Customer and prospect data is now more accurate to use for marketing and research, and The Hartford's searching and matching processes are accomplished more quickly and easily. The company is now better able to understand the needs of its customers and prospects which translates to new and more targeted marketing opportunities. In addition, The Hartford expects to save a considerable amount of money each year by having better, more complete information on which to make underwriting and business decisions. The company has already seen substantial savings due to insourcing the data management function. One data mart will pay for itself within six months, which has exceeded all expectations.

The Hartford made ROI estimates by conducting sampling on existing benchmarks. It built predictive loss models to forecast profit for individual risks, and it conducted straight-line expense reduction activity.

Practical Advice

Make sure you have the right people running the project. The right software is important, but the right people are what will make it a success. Hire someone who is smart and expect the project to consume a lot of time and energy.

Trillium Software, a division of Harte-Hanks, is the leading provider of data quality software solutions for customer identification and relationship matching within strategic business initiatives such as e-business, CRM, ASP and data warehousing. Trillium is architected to extend an organization's data quality standards from front-end customer acquisition software through to back-end legacy and data warehouse infrastructures.

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