Skandia is an old-established insurance institute that today focuses primarily on pension savings. The company was founded back in 1855 and 139 years later the doors opened to Skandiabanken, Sweden’s first bank to offer dedicated phone-banking services. Today Skandia is a major pension insurance institute which also includes a bank that offers mortgages and savings facilities.
About six years ago Skandia started a Business Intelligence Competency (BIC) centre that concentrated on working with three distinct missions: existing Data Warehouse solutions, Data Governance which is all about how to ensure quality and information ownership, and finally Front End with the focus on how to develop more modern dashboards more quickly. The assignment also encompassed ways of getting more people to work with data and thus be more data-driven and conduct better analyses.
Peter Mejlvang, head of analytics at Skandia, explains:
“We needed more attractive and more relevant visualisation, we wanted the ability to conduct data analysis better and more quickly, and we aimed to make it available to more people. I focused on this third leg – the Front End part: how to obtain good visualisations in the operation, known as Self-Service BI (SSBI). With modern tools you don’t need to turn to the IT department to build an attractive and relevant report, it’s something you can do yourself. One of our big challenges (probably the biggest) is that we do not have one single Data Warehouse from which to fetch data but several of them, as well as additional data sources. As a result we have considerable need to collate data from various data sources and thus also a need for Self-Service data preparation.”
Better dashboards, analyses and visualisations with the right data
Backed by a new BICC group with clear-cut goals, a decision was taken to make eight smaller prototypes in SSBI. Initially Advectas was involved in four of them and helped ensure proper understanding of the operational needs, among much else. Advectas also assisted in obtaining the right data and in collating and refining the data. With the correct data, Skandia had the opportunity to build better dashboards, visualisations and analyses using the Tableau software.
”Advectas has helped us with some immensely smart solutions that we ourselves never succeeded in developing.”
Head of Analytics, Skandia
“They were really successful prototypes and we were immensely satisfied with the consultants we had from Advectas. Wonderful personalities, excellent expertise on these tools and exceptionally flexible and easy to deal with, so I have been delighted with our cooperation,” says Peter Mejlvang at Skandia.
Over a period of four years Advectas has helped Skandia build a variety of solutions in more than 20 joint Business Intelligence assignments. As a result, Skandia has worked systematically to remove many difficult, complex and hard to understand Excel data flows and instead succeeded in automating a lot of its data collection. In addition, they have built several types of dashboards and visualisations that many people can use. The company has consequently not just saved time, they have also obtained data of better quality.
“Today everyone at Skandia has access to Tableau dashboards, but of course not all dashboards are public – most are subject to strict access control. We have noted a roughly 50% annual increase in the number of users over the past three years and virtually every department has its own dashboard.
We have now intensified our drive to review the entire information supply system and Data Governance (the process of handling access, usability, integrity and security for data in a corporate system) and these are really interesting projects that will last a number of years. Alteryx is helping us at present while we wait for an upcoming better solution,” says Peter Mejlvang at Skandia.
One cornerstone was that it should not require specialist IT input but would instead permit self-service and be something that the operation could build, manage and further develop on its own. Today many people in the organisation can obtain their required business intelligence insights from data instead of chasing the IT department or trying to explain what they need. None of this requires the individual to be an IT expert.
“It’s possible to do certain simple things, which virtually anyone can do, but it’s also possible to do very advanced things. Advectas has helped us with some immensely smart solutions that we ourselves never succeeded in developing,” says Peter Mejlvang.
The joint assignments between Advectas and Skandia have been very successful. From having previously worked in a very traditional way regarding cooperation between IT and the daily operation, Skandia now works far more intelligently and efficiently. Advectas has helped Skandia build a variety of solutions, allowing them to develop and refine data and also use the data more effectively. As a result, more people at Skandia outside the IT department have become increasingly data-driven. With more and better knowhow in this field, Skandia has also been able to expand its perspectives and new business opportunities have arisen where Advectas has been able to help.
”We want to continue working with Advectas because they contribute the experience they gain from other clients – when you work with just one company you only see your own particular perspective. It’s very useful to bring in people who have a different perspective, people who’ve done this before or who have encountered the same problems in different contexts. So it’s a process of long-term cooperation that carries us a lot further forward,” concludes Peter Mejlvang.