Senior executives are constantly asking IT professionals to cut costs, increase productivity and generate new ways to boost revenue and profit. Although many directors only view IT as a necessary partner, they frequently rate the department’s budget effectiveness, business understanding, and communication as low. IT managers are therefore under pressure to demonstrate the business value of their company’s IT investment. To achieve this, IT departments require complete visibility into their costs and services to enhance transparency. This was the challenge faced by Swiss Mobiliar.
This leading mutual cooperative association operates from around 80 general agencies. This decentralized structure enables the business to deliver customer proximity and local competence.
To do this Swiss Mobiliar relies on a sophisticated IT infrastructure comprising 5,000 servers, 5,000 notebooks, 1,800 iPhones and 300 iPads. Business applications from IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, and Siebel as well as insurance industry-specific applications and many homegrown mission-critical applications.
“Some senior managers simply perceived IT as a cost factor and nothing else. Before commencing our business value project, we only monitored the activities of our 80 larger agencies and produced a report every month. This level of monitoring and reporting couldn’t demonstrate the business value of IT,” explains Thomas Baumann, head of IT performance, Swiss Mobiliar.
“We needed to increase the visibility of our IT and change their perception to IT as a business enabler. We had to collate and display monitored IT information and important Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) from all locations in an attractive manner and very close to real-time,” continues Baumann.
Swiss Mobiliar duly contacted Micro Focus, a well-established strategic partner, to discuss the development of a business dashboard using Micro Focus Business Value Dashboard (BVD) as part of the Operations Bridge Suite.
The Operations Bridge Suite is at the heart of a mature monitoring reference architecture, which comprises an application-driven monitoring layer, a service model-driven integration layer, a processing-driven automation layer and a role-user driven visualization layer with a business value dashboard.
Operations Bridge, a premier hybrid IT monitoring solution, provides automated event reduction, root cause identification, and business service modeling in a single console while BVD, another component of the suite, brings business intelligence to IT data by visualizing important business and IT KPIs. Moreover, the BVD and Operations Bridge Reporter components combine to strengthen organizational alignment by providing near real-time displays of the KPIs.
Typical business KPIs displayed by the dashboard include new business generated, total premium sums, current payments, and growth in premium volumes. A large eye-catching map of Switzerland displays the IT status of every agency while IT KPIs relate to system availability and application speed.
“Employees can view the dashboard at several strategically positioned locations, in our newsroom or online,” reveals Baumann.
“Operations Bridge collects and combines all monitored IT information and delivers it to a single point in the BVD,” says Baumann. “The solution updates business and IT information from all 160 locations every few seconds and displays the data with a very short delay. This near real-time reporting of KPIs has increased senior managers’ interest in IT significantly. IT now talks directly to board directors.”
Swiss Mobiliar has also experienced several additional benefits. The mean time to repair for tickets is now 200 to 300% faster, proactively resolving incidents in about 30 to 40 minutes. Increased transparency has released more time for IT innovation, adding further business value and easing the case for more IT resources. Moreover, senior managers now view IT as a strategic partner and they welcome its contribution to securing new business.
Senior managers also appreciate how the business value data generated by the dashboard has yielded different business viewpoints, introduced a more business-focused attitude to IT operations and dramatically boosted system availability and user satisfaction.
“After introducing Operations Bridge and BVD, people have a completely different perception of what’s happening across the company from a business and IT perspective,” concludes Baumann.