Custom service with fast reporting at Europ Assistance
Europ Assistance, the global provider of assistance services to people in the fields of health, home and family life, automotive and travel, collects lots of data every year. The company employs around 250 people in Belgium, and works very closely with lots more external partners in the provision of assistance services. It started a business intelligence process with SQL Server to ensure all its data is well-organised and convenient, and can now integrate data from partners more easily too, with faster and more complete reporting, and very fast innovations. All this results in improved assistance services for customers. The company recently decided to migrate the existing SQL Server environment to Managed Instance, the newly available Microsoft cloud platform. This allows them to save on maintenance costs and no longer worry about updates, backups and such.
Many hands don’t always make light work
Europ Assistance has a large network of partners, which means it sometimes has to deal with an excess of information. There used to be little uniformity or a clear overview of this data because it comes from different systems, so collecting and combining it all in a single analysis to generate reports required lots of time and manual work. To improve its reporting, Europ Assistance therefore opted for Power BI linked to Microsoft SQL Server, with Kohera providing monitoring and maintenance.
The new setup collects all the data in a single location as a kind of data hub. This partner data is easily integrated in the system, meaning Europ Assistance now has a complete and clear picture of all the information. Michel Kennis, ICT Director of Europ Assistance says, ‘The setup of our BI architecture with SQL makes reporting much simpler, because all the data is centralised in a single location thanks to the seamless integration. We can easily combine our data with external information, so our reports are much more accurate now. And these reports are crucial for our B2B clients: a car manufacturer, for example, will want to know why their car has broken down. Complex, detailed reports such as this can now be created much more easily.’
Managed Instance: fully managed SQL environment in the Azure Cloud
Europ Assistance had its SQL Server environment analysed by Kohera during a five-day Proof of Concept at the end of 2018. Kohera experts investigated the possibilities to migrate the environment to Microsoft Azure with the Data Migration Assistant of Microsoft. During the POC it seemed that a migration would be quite beneficial, provided a few minor adjustments. Given that Kohera was the only Belux Microsoft Partner involved in the preview version of the Managed Instance, resulting in them having all the required expertise in the tea, a migration would also be straightforward.
“The fact that Kohera is one of the first Microsoft partners to offer Managed Instance in Belgium and has also successfully managed to build a strong expertise, makes them the ideal partner for us.”
Managed Instance ensures that Europ Assistance’ SQL Server environment operates in a fully managed Azure environment in the cloud, allowing patches, updates, backups, etc. to be implemented automatically. “This enables us to reduce 50% of our SQL maintenance costs!”, says Michel Kennis. “Kohera supports our long-term vision to take our current IT infrastructure and evolve toward a PaaS environment in Microsoft Azure. Thanks to Managed Instance that migration is perfectly feasible, given a few minor modifications.
Lightning-fast reports, integration and innovation
The new application saves Europ Assistance lots of time. The organisation has more complete data now, but generating a report requires less work. Reporting and integrating data from partners can be done in an instant. ‘Everything used to be done manually in Excel, which could take anything from two hours to two days. But now we can make reports with a single click,’ explains Michel Kennis. ‘Our BI architecture is being used for operational integrations, too. For example, one of our partners, a bank, used to process all Europ Assistance contracts via its own systems, which were only loaded into our applications later on. But now it has direct access to our extranet so this extra step is no longer necessary. The BI environment has a crucial role in the sending and receiving of data. This complex integration project was achieved in the space of just three months, a success that would probably have taken twice as long without the BI environment.’
The smooth integration with other IT systems means there’s more room to work on innovations or get started with new partners. ‘We want to build something sustainable that we can still use several years from now. Our IT infrastructure therefore needs to be less complex for us to develop innovations or even start new collaborations. And everything is running much more smoothly with our BI software now, so we can prepare ourselves and be ready for the future,’ says Michel Kennis.
Better customer service
It’s very important for Europ Assistance to provide its customers with excellent service. The company therefore launched the NP Scorecard to improve its services. Customers use this tool to provide feedback about their experiences and allocate a score. Europ Assistance then uses this information to adapt its methods to serve customers better. ‘The BI package has been the central pillar. We send all the data from our Scorecard to our BI environment by filtering the right data. This is how we found out, for example, that our customers wanted to be kept better informed, which has resulted in us now sending text messages to say when roadside assistance will arrive, or if it’s been delayed, for example,’ explains Michel Kennis. ‘BI also helps us measure the success of existing and new products with detailed monitoring.’
Close cooperation with Kohera on SQL Server and Managed Instance
Europ Assistance quickly decided it wanted to use both BI and SQL Server from Microsoft, and got in touch with Kohera after a recommendation from the software and hardware giant itself. ‘We’d already started a BI initiative previously, but without much success,’ says Michel Kennis, ‘so we wanted a partner who was really focused on BI, and that’s Kohera. Their expertise helped us on the right path and they acted as our sounding board every step of the way. The fact that Kohera concentrates on Microsoft products such as SQL Server and Managed Instance was definitely a decisive factor. The fact that Kohera is one of the first Microsoft partners to offer Managed Instance in Belgium and has also successfully managed to build a strong expertise, makes them the ideal partner for us.