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AEGON exploits important new capabilities with SAS Insurance Analytics Architecture

Life insurance, pensions, and investments company AEGON modernised its SAS® platform to create a powerful new environment, with enhanced capabilities ranging from data quality and information security to analytics and business intelligence

Serving two million customers and with £51.7 billion in assets under management (as at 30 June 2010), AEGON is one of the UK's leading providers of pensions, investments and protection, with a history dating back to 1831. It is part of the AEGON Group, which has 40 million customers worldwide. With SAS® used since 1979 to support the insurance businesses formerly known as Scottish Equitable and Guardian, recent times have seen a huge modernisation programme to deliver even greater power to users.

"SAS has been re-established as a key analysis tool," says Charlie Ewing, Business Solutions Manager, Finance Business Solutions. Historic initiatives had included SAS/IntrNet® software “to handle high volumes of standard enquiries” and PC-based SAS to take usage out to desktops. “This remained the status quo for years”, Ewing says, “whilst IT closely focused on our core policy administration systems”. With SAS still used in multiple business areas, however, the potential of SAS’s of new capabilities increasingly outstripped the capability which was being delivered across  the estate. “We wanted a sea change in how the system was used, in SAS capabilities and in how the hundreds of users worked, in different areas and at different levels,” says Ewing. “We took ownership of SAS and laid out a vision and roadmap to move to a new and more powerful platform, to better achieve our strategic goals while taking all our users with us.” The result was a new architecture that has delivered efficiency gains and significant costs savings.

Faster, stronger, better: a new SAS® platform

"SAS had been treated as an 'informal' tool in many respects but was actually used for important purposes," says Ross McEwan, now Head of Finance Methodology and the chief sponsor of the SAS modernisation. "As soon as our sponsorship, ownership and governance of SAS came in, we were able to re-align the use of SAS and looked to deliver value." AEGON engaged with SAS to define the new infrastructure. SAS® Professional Services, including a Technical Account Manager, then helped drive implementation and technical delivery. Ewing continues: "In the last few years the appetite for managing risk far more accurately, to better understand the business and so take the right decisions, has grown. We wanted to produce far higher quality outputs, to get rid of the 'noise' and inefficiencies, and create one single, accurate view of the business. In doing so, we can not only work more efficiently, quickly and accurately, we've also addressed information security, data protection and quality issues. SAS ticks all those boxes." Solutions implemented as part of AEGON's new SAS Insurance Analytics Architecture (IAA), founded on SAS® Enterprise BI Server, included SAS® Data Integration and SAS® Enterprise Guide®.

Measurable success

Users soon came to rely on the new infrastructure, Ewing says, because of its massively improved capabilities. Some job running times improved by a factor of 50 or 60 times "because we re-engineered, had better data control and a stronger computational engine. We also saw a large reduction in mainframe usage, around nine percent, thanks to SAS. Because the mainframe runs at 100% most of the day, anything taken off it is beneficial, providing more power for policy administration. This improved service ultimately benefits end customers." Policy Lists, a key SAS-based application that previously ran on SAS/IntrNet, is an enquiry tool used throughout the business to create lists of policies under a particular scheme or specific agent. "This application would only work part time as it was running out of capacity on the mainframe, so it was one of the first we moved," says Ewing. "Then, it had 350 users. After three months it had 700, because people saw the improvements in quality of service, the speed and efficiency." From being a tool that had "fallen into disrepair and disuse because it was running on a system that was no longer efficient" it went back to being "an absolute core capability used for policy enquiries".

Internal research into efficiency gains amongst the 700 users revealed significant benefits. "If we make staff just one percent more efficient that's the equivalent of seven full-time people, which means over £200,000 of financial benefit," says Ewing. "We discovered we were achieving significantly more than one percent and we started to create value as soon as we went live." He adds, "While payback is obviously very important, we also have a huge personal satisfaction that we've delivered something that's had such a fundamental impact on how people work, helping their jobs become easier so they can work more accurately and efficiently."

Ross McEwan adds, "We want to work our assets hard—including SAS. This will mean using SAS even more heavily to support our work around capital calculations and Solvency II. The solvency work we're doing wasn't planned for the system, but SAS supports our ability to meet demand. In fact, without SAS we'd have severe issues addressing some of those requirements." Meanwhile, the Business Intelligence Competency Centre (BICC) in Finance Business Solutions, already a centre of excellence for finance and risk analytics, is busy using the architecture to support other teams including customer insight and a customer transformation programme. Ewing says when the migration was planned, he worked on the basis of the new infrastructure supporting 300 PC users and 400 mainframe users. "There are now over 1,000 active users because of the real benefits people see, the real efficiency gains, and new levels of analytics impossible before. SAS lets us work faster and smarter. More and more people are requesting access. We've given people an appetite to use SAS to do more—and SAS is a fundamental building block for what we want to achieve as the business moves forward."

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Business Issue:
Modernise a SAS platform to better support a successful business: drive a 'sea change' in systems and culture to ensure higher quality outputs, create a single view of the business, enable staff to work more efficiently, quickly and accurately, and address information security, data protection and data quality issues.
SAS® Insurance Analytics Architecture: SAS® Enterprise BI Server, SAS® Data Integration, SAS® Enterprise Guide® for enhanced support in key areas including data management, data quality, information security analytics and reporting; SAS® Professional Services including Technical Account Manager.
Measurable efficiency gains plus cost savings: job running times improved up to 60-times; mainframe usage reduced by 9% providing more power for policy administration and better serving end customers; financial benefits realisation running into hundreds of thousands of pounds; fast payback; new opportunities to use SAS to support capital calculations and Solvency II work.

SAS lets us work faster and smarter. More and more people are requesting access: SAS is a fundamental building block for what we want to achieve as the business moves forward.

Charlie Ewing

Finance Business Solutions

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