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end-to-end Microsoft BI for delivering customer insights

This case study will discuss the implementation of a Business
Intelligence program at Isabel.

The Customer

The financial value chain of companies, government agencies and
consumers has changed considerably in the last years. Today efficiency and ease
of use have replaced paper transactions and data re-entry. Isabel helps its’
customers to make their invoicing and payment flows as smooth as possible. Therefore
Isabel offers two different solutions.


Bankit is an integrated internet banking solution for professional users. It
offers multi-bank, multi-user, multi-sign and multi-encoded functionalities, by
which a company can choose from a wide variety of automation capabilities and
which can easily be integrated with the customer’s accounting software. Via one
application, one card and one personal pin code, a company has access to over
20 banks.

Zoomit offers a free service in internet banking for consumers, where one can
manage invoices & payslips and pay those invoices in a few clicks quickly
and easily within the customers’ internet banking applications. This service is
offered more and more by a variety of organizations.

Isabel was founded in 1995 by 4 major stakeholders, being KBC, ING, BNP
Paribas Fortis & Belfius.

The company services over 100.000 companies and processes more than 300
million transactions per year. As such more than 1.500 billion euro is
processed on a yearly basis. For more than
15 years, Isabel has been a technology-oriented company while today Isabel is
shifting more & more towards a customer oriented organization.

BI shows an
important added value in truly identifying customers and their characteristics.
By gathering all relevant information (like loyalty, activity, sector, size and
many others), Isabel wants to enable a better view on it customers, resulting in
providing better services and as such growing the company.


In 2012 Isabel asked element61 to review their existing Oracle data
warehouse and at the same time train key staff on BI best practices & Business
Intelligence Competence Centers (BICC).

Given the fact that Isabel provides complex technological oriented
financial solutions towards its customers it is key that BI at Isabel is able
to offer information which is accurate, easy to use, transparent and above all
information which provides answers to complex and domain crossing business

The existing data warehouse however was an initiative which started from
a purely technical perspective on what was available instead of a business
perspective on what was really required, next to a lack of knowledge on
advanced dimensional modeling, front-end & back-end best practices, project
methodology, formal testing process & corresponding dedicated BI-tools.
Nearly no documentation was made available, neither on business terms used, neither
on where does which information originate from or how is the data transformed
throughout the different data warehouse stages to name but a few. And finally
the information was only made available on a monthly basis through basic
unrelated database tables instead of a combination of advanced star schemas and
OLAP cubes.

Other challenges included:

  • Previously different data warehouse-like initiatives were executed, which
    had proven to be unsuccessful. As a consequence, Isabel staff is a bit biased
    and doesn’t have a lot of confidence in just ‘another’ BI project
  • In terms of dedicated ownership: it
    isn’t always easy to find a business owner to provide the necessary required
    information, due to lack
    of time (people do this ‘on top of’ their normal job) and / or due to lack
    of knowledge (as the company is in full transition, there are permanently ‘position
  • Data quality which is looked upon too much from an operational perspective
  • Limited amount of operational data availability (e.g. only 3 months of
    data available on certain operational database tables)
  • A strictly operational ICT Solution release rhythm (Isabel wants to offer new or
    improved functionality to its customers which causes changes in the operational
    systems and at the same time results in new business requirements and changes in available/collected data sets)
  • Limited access to representative data due to security regulations
  • Complex infrastructure setup due to security regulations

Within the context of BI, Isabel received training on dimensional
modeling, the Microsoft BI offering, BI project methodologies & BI
architecture. Within the context of BICCs, amongst others the following topics were
discussed: BI & organizational challenges, BICC services, BICC roles &
responsibilities, funding and setting up a BICC.


Part 1 - Initiation

Based on the results of the assessment, Isabel decided to replace the
existing data warehouse solution by a Microsoft BI solution and at the same
time define a BI Roadmap for the next years.

Initially, the existing domains were re-designed and implemented. Within
this track the main focus was on the usage of the bankit platform. More detailed
and richer models were defined, which introduced more advanced insights in how
customers were uploading & downloading information when using the bankit
platform; which software, formats, wizards, transaction types amongst others
are being used.

Next to this, information is captured on a weekly basis,
concerning the profiles related to the security tokens or smart cards which
Isabel users are using to connect to the bankit platform. As such PC configuration information such as internet versions, screen resolutions, browser
versions and many more can be analyzed in detail in function of customer problems
or complaints; when -for example- an issue is detected related to customers using
Windows XP, then immediately the correct user population can be contacted in a
pro-active manner. Next to that, the information also shows its added value in
function of new Isabel platform releases when impact analyses are to be executed.

For obvious reasons, a customer dimension was needed. The customer dimension
however showed an above average complexity. An Isabel customer consists out of a
billable component who is paying for the invoices, multiple subscribing
entities who are using the services, multiple contracts, multiple users and
possibly multiple security tokens. Additionally contracts & users always have
an Isabel perspective and a bank perspective and finally an Isabel customer is
owned by a registration authority bank and can co-relate to several granted
banks. Contracts & users can move across customers in case of mergers and
off course this significantly complicates tracking all of these movements.

In order to enrich the data models, various segmentations were added,
such as segmentations based on the number of transactions, the number of active
users, the integration with the bankit platform, mono-versus-multi bank usage,
etcetera. External data was also added in order to classify the customers from
different perspectives, such as NaceBel groupings, segmentations on customer
size & customer turnover. All segmentations are recalculated and stored on
a monthly basis using snapshot techniques. By exploiting the data in this way,
market penetration and market opportunities can be easily analyzed.

Based on the activity of a customer in relation to its contracts &
users a customer lifecycle model was established. As such it could be tracked
whether a customer or a user is a new, an already active, a returning, a
churned or a historic customer or user. This information is also calculated and
stored on a monthly basis using snapshot techniques resulting in customer
lifecycle evolution understandings and an advanced insight in the customer and
user base over time, next to an insight in customer loyalty.

At the same time, a Business Intelligence Competence Center (BICC) was set up. The objectives of the BICC is to take
initiative and show responsiveness to the business needs present at Isabel. The
goal was not to build blindly what was asked, but to challenge the business in
their needs, leading to better BI solutions. The BICC also should provide
training on BI tools & BI content. The information and functionalities
provided by the BICC are driven by business priorities, which are captured
through the means of a product backlog. And finally, a BI specific portal was
created through the means of Microsoft Sharepoint, one central BICC email
address was set up and the impact of the BICC was measured through the
definition and follow up of internal BICC KPIs (e.g. number of users, BI
availability, user satisfaction etc.).

Figure 1 - The Isabel BICC Portal in Microsoft Sharepoint

Part 2 - Extension

For obvious reasons, the BI roadmap is reviewed on a regular basis in
order to sync with the changing business climate, which resulted in the need
for additional functionalities within the existing BI domains or new domains

Next to the usage of the bankit platform concerning customers uploading
& downloading information, also the different product (modules)
subscriptions were integrated. A subscription to the bankit application is a
kind of contract where you can select one or multiple modules. This can be
compared to a contract with for example Belgacom: do you only wish to use
Belgacom for telephony, or also for internet and/or TV etcetera. If also TV, do
you go for the standard pack or do you want extra channels? In this way, each
customer can subscribe to multiple modules, each module corresponding with
extra features in the bankit application.

In order to follow up on the objectives of the organization, a corporate
objective dashboard was defined and implemented. Within this dashboard, actual
figures & corresponding targets from different angles were shown; financial
perspective, operational excellence, customer satisfaction, ability to deliver
and employee engagement.

Within the customer satisfaction perspective, the
concept of NPS or Net Promotor Score was used. NPS is based on a direct
question: How likely is it that you would recommend our company & its products
to a friend or colleague? The scoring for this answer is based on a 0 to 10
scale. The scoring is then split over promoters, detractors and passives,
resulting in a single final figure which can be tracked over time.

Previously the foundation for churners and newly acquired customers was
laid out and presented valuable information, however no insight yet was given
in terms of churn predictability. By applying data mining techniques on a
variety of parameters, together with a model which represented the value that a
customer represents towards Isabel, it is possible to define a value based
churn prediction model in which the potential future lifecycle of customers at
risk could be made visible.

Helpdesk information was another information domain which was integrated
within the BI solution. All calls to and from the helpdesk, together with their
context, such as customer, helpdesk agents, dates & times & durations,
call reasons, impact, classifications, priorities, statuses, etcetera, were
integrated with the other information domains.

While, in terms of BI, the focus up to a certain moment in time was
almost completely on the bankit platform, also new needs were rising in function
of the zoomit solution. Within the zoomit BI domain, advanced analysis
possibilities are introduced concerning the upload of documents by service
providers (senders of documents) and the activation of those documents by the
customers of those service providers. By offering different measures in this
context, such as penetration rate, together with bank, sender, customer, time
and other important dimensions, detailed insights in the usage of the zoomit
platform could be enabled.

Part 3 – Next up

At this moment in time the BICC is focusing on corporate and divisional
dashboards which are able to visualize and integrate information from different
data sources and from within different information domains.

The zoomit related BI solution is being extended, the Isabel mobile module
functionality within bankit is added, next to detailed SLA reports &
insights into the delivery of smart cards.


The architecture of the project consisted in combining the most recent
versions of components of the Microsoft BI stack.

  • Microsoft
    is used as back-end environment:
    • Microsoft
      SQL Server 2012 is used as database
    • Microsoft
      SQL Server Integration Services is used as ETL using dimension & fact
      templates as head start
  • Microsoft
    is also used as front-end environment:
    • Microsoft
      SQL Server Reporting Services for pre-formatted reports for consumers
    • Microsoft
      SQL Server Analysis Services for self-service analyses for power users
    • Microsoft
      PowerView for self-service associative dashboards
    • Microsoft
      PowerPivot for prototyping & data discovery
  • Microsoft
    Master Data Services was used as a reference data entry tool
    • In
      order to complete parts of or even entire dimensions or for overruling
      certain source information
  • Microsoft
    Sharepoint as BI portal
  • Ataccama
    Data Quality Analyzer is used as data profiling tool

Figure 2 - a Microsoft PowerView dashboard at Isabel


element61 has been responsible for the following roles & activities:

  • Coaching
    on BI methodologies (elementary and applying scrum within BI), data
    warehouse architecture, dimensional modeling & BICCs
  • Definition
    of several BI roadmaps
  • Project
  • Definition of the architecture
  • Source analysis & data profiling
  • Requirements analysis
  • Dimensional modeling
  • ETL design & implementation
  • Dashboard,
    report & cube development


Since the initiation of a new BI Roadmap back in 2012, Isabel has
leveraged the potential of its vast sets of rich data and transformed it into
valuable information and advanced insights in function of -amongst other- non-BI
business project and business opportunities.

The true business value is situated in, on the one hand the richness of
the dimensions and enormous set of measures within the specific information
domains, and on the other hand the functionalities which are offered by
combining all the information and presenting cross domain insights; who are the
customers and what is their profile, what are they stating that they will be
doing, what are they effectively really doing, what are they paying for …

As a result, trust in BI has settled in again at Isabel and as such the
BICC has become a true business partner.


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