Communication service providers should remember that cloud computing can – and must – defend the core: broadband.
Camille MendlerPrincipal AnalystInforma Telecoms & Media
Generali, a Neostratus client

Generali Insurance saves 60% on IT costs with messaging solution from the cloud

Generali Group, a major player in insurance in Hungary, needed a cost-effective messaging and collaboration solution for more than 1,000 self-employed sales agents. The group chose a cloud-based email platform from Neostratus using Microsoft Exchange. As a result, Neostratus has delivered Generali over 60 percent cost savings compared to its in-house solution, and has significantly reduced the head-count required to deliver IT services to the agents.

Customer profile

Generali Group is the second-largest provider of insurance ​services in Hungary operating through a network of more than 1,000 agents – usually self-employed people with second jobs.

For more information visit www.generali.hu

We’ve calculated a 60 percent direct saving with the hosted Exchange messaging service, plus a bonus from the redeployment of two full-time IT staff to higher value work.

Business Needs
Generali Group has been active in Hungary since 1989, operating in all classes of insurance, and is now the second-biggest player in the domestic market. It has around 1,000 agents—usually external contractors who operate their own businesses, with limited access to IT.

Our agent network is an extension of our traditional branch network. Agents contact our customers at home or work and conduct business with them in a cost-effective way. Agent turnover is high. Most of them have other jobs and few of them have any specialized knowledge of IT.

Generali wanted to provide its sales agents with a unified domain and an address book integrated with its own employee directory – the aim was to replace the external workforce’s use of a variety of free e-mail services from local providers and to put in place one consistent unified domain across internal and external staff. Another objective was to improve the professional image of the agency business but at an affordable price.

We tried to maintain such address books and mail groups manually, but it proved extremely expensive and inefficient, and never had a good acceptance rate by agents. We were looking for a solution that would make change management easy and professional—adding new executives, deleting retired agents, or changing passwords.

Generali evaluated an in-house option using Lotus Notes for managing the agent network as well as other technologies, including Google and Open Office.

Developing the system in-house seemed like the most expensive option for us, especially because it was important to keep our IT team focused on other critical applications—the software-plus-services model was the main alternative.

Based on a total cost of ownership analysis, the software-plus-services model for a hosted service from Neostratus was judged the most cost-effective option, and the best fit for the organization’s requirements. The hosted solution, which involves no capital expenditure, charges a small monthly fee per agent.

The Microsoft partner also offered high system availability backed by a service level agreement. Neostratus impressed us with its depth of experience, local language support for our team and customers, and the self-service features of its control panel—not to mention the low cost.

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The other tools for agents include 100-megabyte mailboxes, an integrated address book, calendar, notes, and a self-service control panel for services such as password resetting. New user setup and migration is available on request to agents on payment of a fee.

With assistance from Neostratus, the Generali internal sales support team provided professional training to its agents. The partner deployed the solution in just five months, going live in the fourth quarter of 2009.

The services provided by Neostratus as a hosting partner are first class. All costs are in the monthly fee with no hidden extras or surprises. Currently, we’re considering extending our arrangements to include hosted Windows SharePoint Services.

The hosted Exchange corporate address book and well-maintained group mailing features have resulted in an additional 15 to 20 minutes a week of sales leads for each agent. The major saving for Generali, however, is evidenced by comparing the hosted solution to the in-house model.

We’ve calculated a 60 percent direct saving with the hosted Exchange messaging service, plus a bonus from the redeployment of two full-time IT staff to higher value work.

Agents respond positively to the enhanced hosted service. The adoption rate of the messaging environment among agents has been almost 100 percent. Nick says: “There have been no complaints, which indicates that our agents are happy.

Consultation boosts user acceptance. Generali ensured that its agents were consulted before introducing the new toolset. Nick says: “Most of our agents used some sort of Web mail with Outlook Express. This gave us confidence that the Outlook Web Access graphical user interface would be accepted because it has a similar look and feel to Outlook.

Partner guarantees business continuity. Soós says: “The hosted solution from Neostratus is meeting its service level agreement target of 99.99 percent reliability.

Pay-as-you-grow model suits insurance business. By outsourcing its messaging infrastructure to a software-plus-services provider, Generali has greater certainty over the costs of managing its agency network. Nick says: “We will only need to pay more if we increase the number of sales agents.”