April 17, 2019

Willis Towers Watson Improves the Client Experience with Embedded BI

The ibi Team

Topic:   Industry Focus

Last updated: July 30th, 2020

How does a global multinational risk management, insurance brokerage, and advisory company deliver superior client service while increasing efficiency?

A global company with more than 40,000 employees, Willis Towers Watson handles risk management, insurance, and many essential HR processes for its clients, which include 80 percent of Fortune 1000 companies, along with many mid-market and smaller businesses.

Willis Towers Watson selected Information Builders (ibi) and its partner, BloomfieldX, to create BenefitView™, a client-facing analytics portal that delivers an easy, secure, and seamless experience for clients to visualize their information in an actionable way.

BenefitView enables clients to monitor enrollments and insurance plan selections within the Via Benefits individual insurance marketplace. Benefit administrators use the portal to track details about allocation amounts, funding information, and service center metrics, as well as to monitor health reimbursement account (HRA) spending. These insights help them make more informed decisions, to ensure the welfare of retirees.

“The Individual Marketplace services support retirees throughout the process, helping them evaluate and choose coverage tailored to their needs and managing the Health Reimbursement Account (HRA) provided by employers to reimburse their medical expenses,” explains Manesh Kitanhoth, senior director for Enterprise Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence (BI) at Willis Towers Watson.

Viewing Benefits: A Benefit for All

The Individual Marketplace business leaders considered upgrades to BenefitView™. Over time, the application did not keep pace with the growing needs of the company.

“We received complaints about BenefitView availability issues, connectivity, and data loading,” admits Kitanhoth. “BenefitView 1.0 was not scalable for high-volume transactions and required significant maintenance. We needed to upgrade to a scalable solution with a robust architecture that would continue to manage our business-critical requirements, including absolute security for HIPAA data.”

A lot was riding on the BenefitView project: securing, managing, and analyzing corporate data is fundamental to everything Willis Towers Watson does throughout its four business segments:  Benefits Delivery and Administration; Corporate Risk and Brokering; Human Capital and Benefits; and Investment, Risk, and Reinsurance.

“We needed a dynamic BI application with interactive Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that Individual Marketplace clients could use to manage benefits for their retirees,” says Kandha Packirisamy, head of Customer Success and a founding member of BloomfieldX. “They wanted to deliver these analytic capabilities through a branded, self-service environment embedded in their own portal. We chose the ibi WebFOCUS analytics platform because it is a proven environment for creating analytic portals and embedded BI applications.”

Modern Reporting Capabilities Improve Information Tracking

BenefitView provides key information to clients, including current and projected eligibility, disposition, and enrollment status based on their population. The business traditionally ran various reports that were pushed manually to clients. “Our old process was inefficient in terms of production, distribution, and latency,” says Jim Baloun, managing director of Client Relationship Management at Willis Towers Watson. “We wanted to provide metrics in near-time, for the populations selected, and based on the timeframe designated.”

With its embedded analytics, dynamic reporting, scalability, and low cost of ownership, WebFOCUS was the perfect platform for building our customer-facing application.

With help from BloomfieldX, the Individual Marketplace team used WebFOCUS to create an improved version of BenefitView. “WebFOCUS is a powerful tool with robust and highly configurable security features, which enable us to continue to protect sensitive client and participant data,” says Kitanhoth. “With its embedded analytics, dynamic reporting, scalability, and low cost of ownership, WebFOCUS was the perfect platform for building our customer-facing application.”

In a swift 45 days, BloomfieldX used WebFOCUS to develop a unified portal that serves as a single point of entry for many of Willis Towers Watson’s client-facing capabilities and applications. Developers appreciated the versatility of the architecture, which includes point-and-click development functionality, as well as the ability to utilize JavaScript and RESTful APIs to connect other application functions. “WebFOCUS had the security and scalability we needed and is user-friendly and quick to deploy,” Kitanhoth explains.

Data Visibility Enables Educated Decisions

Today, BenefitView enables SSO access for a broad range of internal and external users. The ibi platform automates a complex user administration model for hundreds of companies, simplifying access and streamlining HIPAA compliance. More than 400 Willis Towers Watson clients use the BenefitView portal to track the enrollment activities of close to 1.5 million retirees, with enrollment group sizes ranging from 100 to 200,000 people.

The data comes from many sources, including call-related data from the interactive voice response (IVR) system, enrollment data, CRM data, customer service feedback, HRA administration data, application data – all loaded into a Microsoft SQL Server data warehouse. The entire solution is architected for scalability and failover between two data centers, with load balancing technology to improve performance by shuttling requests between multiple web servers, application servers, and database servers.

One notable feature is the HIPAA designee tracking mechanism. “In the past we used a manual process to track HIPAA designee activities in Salesforce, and then people had to download the report to see who is accessing what,” Kitanhoth explains. “With the new BenefitView release it’s all in one ecosystem with a single infrastructure. We track HIPAA designees as well as security. Those features help our user community work more efficiently. ibi’s robust security architecture made it the right choice for our solution.”

Willis Towers Watson is contractually obligated to provide certain metrics to its clients. WebFOCUS lets users drill down into the underlying data and visualize these metrics to provide any decision-maker with fast, easy access to actionable information.”

Kitanhoth expects that having better interactivity and streamlined information access will translate into more efficient operations for Willis Towers Watson’s clients – and a more cohesive user experience overall. “With the new BenefitView, our clients easily access data elements from multiple service lines. They have a single portal that connects them to many different types of KPIs, dashboards, and reports, giving them consistent data from a secure, reliable source.”

Baloun agrees. “The ibi analytical platform solves our information delivery challenges, improves productivity, and provides the foundation for us to build out more self-service functions in the future,” he adds. “Our clients are thrilled with this solution.”