The Swiss Re Group is one of the world’s leading providers of reinsurance, insurance and other forms of insurance-based risk transfer, working to make the world more resilient. It anticipates and manages risk – from natural catastrophes to climate change, from aging populations to cyber crime.

Headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, where it was founded in 1863, the Swiss Re Group operates through a network of around 80 offices globally. It is organized into three business units, each with a distinct strategy and set of objectives contributing to the group’s overall mission.

Underpinning this is a strategy of digital workplace transformation which aims to make the staff more effective by simplifying collaboration between global teams and between Swiss Re and its external partners and customers. “We’re taking IT out of the back office and using it to create new value propositions for the business. This transformation has been highly visible and is supported by senior management,” says Ron Kwong, Head of Delivery Assurance, Digital Workplace at Swiss Re.

Challenges
  • Improve the performance of business-critical applications to enable better collaboration
  • Obtain visibility into the digital experience of employees, partners, and customers to identify and resolve problems quickly
  • Produce metrics for performance baselines to drive continuous improvement
Solution
  • Aternity end-user experience monitoring
Benefits
  • Instant insight into collaboration effectivenss with a single view of application performance across 80 locations
  • Proactive notification of problems affecting end user experience improves service levels and user satisfaction
  • Tracking the performance improvement delivered by IT initiatives validates the benefit of IT investments
  • Communicating the value of IT projects to business stakeholders enables alignment between IT and the business
“We wanted to be more scientific in how we approached monitoring user experience. We realized our existing device performance monitoring tool couldn’t tell us what our workforce was actually experiencing, because it simply didn’t measure most of it. Plus, the data it provided was hard to interpret and didn’t scale.”
Joost Smit Digital Workplace Solution Architect and Engineer, Swiss Re
Challenge: Understanding the user’s experience

Swiss Re’s digital workplace initiative is as much a push from the IT team, as a pull from their internal customers. “We have a lot of IT-savvy users within the organization and they expect more from IT. They spend a lot of their day on Outlook or on Skype to communicate with each other and with external parties. So our focus has shifted from understanding who is using IT services to how are they experiencing IT.”

Swiss Re enables employees to work across a range of devices. Employees have company-issued notebooks, access to a virtual workplace from personal computers, and a “Bring You Own Device” (BYOD) policy enables iOS and Android users to connect their own mobile devices.

“We see the Digital Workplace becoming increasingly mobile over the next 18 months. For us the Digital Workplace includes all the Microsoft Office 365 applications and access to business applications,” says Kwong. “We want our employees to have the flexibility to work from anywhere, with access to the right tools and data. We want to encourage collaboration and not prescribe one set way of working.”

For this to happen, the business needed to understand exactly how its main Windows, Office and business applications were performing across large-scale environments. A quantifiable means of monitoring performance was essential in order to anticipate potential issues and create performance benchmarks. “We also wanted to be more scientific in how we approached monitoring user experience,” explains Joost Smit, Digital Workplace Solution Architect and Engineer at Swiss Re. “We realized our existing device performance monitoring tool couldn’t tell us what our workforce was actually experiencing, because it simply didn’t measure most of it. Plus, it was hard to interpret and didn’t scale.

“This issue is becoming increasingly important as new versions of Windows, Office and other applications now update very frequently. We need to know how these changes are impacting our end-users.”

Solution: Intelligent data insights

A positive response to an initial Aternity Proof of Concept led to a wider test across 1,500 devices worldwide, involving users from engineering, customer-facing teams, and application owners of both Windows-based and home-grown applications.

“All our internal stakeholders in the initial phase were happy,” says Smit. “We had a good variety of users, which enabled us to compare the different experiences of users on Windows 7 and Windows 10, for example.” Aternity ensures the end-user experience is monitored across the enterprise, running on any physical, virtual, or mobile device. It provides immediate insight into how application performance affects productivity, for every application in the enterprise portfolio.

“What we particularly liked with Aternity was the ease in which we could analyze and correlate data,” says Smit. Aternity makes this insight easily available to a broader audience, in a format that is scalable and sharable with our internal stakeholders.”

Benefits: Efficiency gains through visibility

“Now with Aternity, we can measure actual end-user experience, remotely, proactively, and non-invasively,” says Smit. “Which is especially important because the business cannot afford any interruption into the productivity of the workforce.”

From a trouble-shooting perspective, Smit says Aternity removes siloes and closes gaps in visibility: “Having facts and accurate insight, rather than relying on anecdotal feedback is hugely beneficial.” Swiss Re now has a real-time view into insights that used to take days to extract, were prone to human error and quickly outdated.

“The combination of the efficiency of Aternity coupled with no longer having to manually crunch data to find information, meant the deployment has paid for itself,” Smit adds.

Encouraging freedom of choice in a digital workplace

Longer term, the benefit of Aternity goes beyond troubleshooting. Kwong says insight into the end-user experience will help inform future IT investment and deployment, an increasingly significant requirement as modern IT moves to an ‘as-a-Service’ model.

“Aternity has delivered value straight out of the box, with no need for customization. It allows us to be more proactive in how we deploy new services. For instance, we can see how email is being used by a certain team. We’ve never had access to these kind of metrics before. This could help us understand what new communication tools are needed, and we can then monitor how they’re adopted in a smaller test environment before making wider plans.”

All of this plays into the broader strategy of allowing users the freedom to choose the tools and devices they need to do their job in a digital workplace. Kwong concludes, “We don’t want to tell people what tools they must use, but we do want to understand how the tools they choose are performing.”

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