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Posted: 3/29/2013
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Union Bank of Israel Ltd Bank Gets Insight Needed to Balance Risks and Returns While Boosting Competitiveness

To deliver competitive services that balance risks and returns, Union Bank of Israel needed greater operational insight. To achieve this, the bank replaced a third-party reporting solution with one based on the Microsoft platform. With it, the bank speeds efficiency by 50 percent, increases insight and accuracy, minimizes risk, improves collaboration, and facilitates agility.

Business Needs

Employees at Union Bank of Israel depend on business intelligence (BI) to evaluate services and operations so that they meet customers’ needs and facilitate growth.

In 2009, the bank deployed a BI solution for its finance department that provided static reports from many systems. To gain a holistic view of the data, accountants had to manually create custom reports that combined financial, operational, and transactional data using Microsoft Excel spreadsheet software. Jonathon Bellisha, Chief Technology Officer at Union Bank of Israel, explains, “At the end of each quarter, accountants spent days working around the clock, analyzing large amounts of unorganized data and creating reports including consolidated profit-and-loss statements.” Even with custom reports, employees still struggled to get the insight that they needed. Staff had no way to drill down into data to see the sources and models that produced values. As a result, business and IT personnel invested significant time in verifying figures.

To help streamline processes, employees continually refined static reports. However, because the third-party BI tool was so complex, IT staff had to make all of the changes. This required extensive collaboration between business and IT professionals: business employees had to learn what BI changes were possible based on system restrictions, and engineers had to learn about evolving business requirements.

Rather than continuing to struggle with its BI system, the bank sought a new solution that could provide faster business insight and improve overall efficiency.

* Employees can easily look at data from different perspectives using PowerPivot for Excel to get the straightforward insight they need. We’ve reduced the time to produce accurate insights by over 50% percent with our Microsoft BI solution. *

Jonathon Bellisha
Chief Technology Officer
Union Bank of Israel


After evaluating technologies, Union Bank of Israel decided to replace its three-year-old financial reporting system with a more agile and easy-to-use solution based on the Microsoft platform. With it, financial staff can quickly access, create, share, and explore multidimensional reports using Microsoft Excel 2013. “We could achieve the level of insight and analysis that we needed using a Microsoft BI solution,” Bellisha says. “Not only is it familiar and easy to deploy, but we also avoided spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a new product.”

To implement the solution, the IT team upgraded the desktops of 13 initial users to Microsoft Excel 2013 Professional Plus. The engineers also created new static reports using Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Power View and Microsoft SQL Server 2012 PowerPivot for Excel. Reports include data from the general ledger, numerous subsidiary databases, and a data warehouse. Developed in 2009 with Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Enterprise software and tools such as Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Analysis Services, the warehouse has more than 2 terabytes of data on customer relationship management, marketing, and Basel II credit-risk compliance. Data structures include an online analytical processing (OLAP) cube and a tabular model.

Engineers posted the new static reports on the existing employee portal, which runs on Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010. To control access to reports and BI that staff post on the portal to share, the engineers updated individual and group profiles in the bank’s Active Directory service.

The initial implementation took less than three months and was complete in November 2012. Bellisha says, “It only took us about 450 hours to deploy our new financial BI solution based on Excel 2013. The speed at which we implemented such a powerful system with all its functions and capabilities is really incredible.” By the end of 2013, approximately 60 employees in finance and IT will use the solution.


By taking advantage of built-in capabilities in the Microsoft platform, bank staff can accomplish more, deliver competitive offerings with less risk, and boost service.

Improves Efficiency by 50 Percent

Today, employees can access BI in seconds and create custom, multidimensional reports and visualizations in minutes by exploring data in the OLAP cube or tabular model with PowerPivot for Excel. “The way we can model data with Excel 2013, SQL Server 2012, and SharePoint Server 2010 is unique,” says Bellisha. “Employees can easily look at data from different perspectives using PowerPivot for Excel to get the straightforward insight they need. We’ve reduced the time to produce accurate insights by over 50% percent with our Microsoft BI solution.” He continues, “IT personnel are also more efficient because they can use PowerPivot for Excel to build insight drawn from the repository of reports.”

Increases Accuracy and Reduces Risk

Bank staff can more easily develop competitive services that balance risks and returns. “From Excel 2013, employees can instantly drill down and see the 11,000 calculations and data points behind report values,” says Bellisha. “As a result, we’ve improved BI accuracy, especially in our consolidated profit-and-loss statements.”

In seconds or minutes, financial employees can also compare data from multiple sources in new ways to gain innovative views into operations. Bellisha says, “We can now maintain one Excel spreadsheet to analyze all kinds of values from the general ledger such as pricing and amortization. In the same spreadsheet, we can import related transactional information such as deposits. As a result, bankers and accountants can use the same reports based on the same data to uncover risks and identify the rate of capital recovery for our services.”

Transforms Departmental Collaboration

Because the new BI tool uses Microsoft Excel to view database structures, people who work in IT and finance can easily collaborate to create better customer services. Bellisha says, “Business employees are now talking about rows and columns in tables, and they can create sophisticated BI without extensive training. From the other perspective, IT employees instantly see how changes to databases affect how reports look. This is really a transformative step for our organization in the way that we work.”

Facilitates Innovation and Agility

Always looking for ways to boost flexibility and time-to-market, the bank is evaluating Microsoft Office 365 and Windows Azure. Bellisha says, “Moving more of our IT to the cloud by using services such as Office 365 and Windows Azure will make our lives faster and easier. Our Microsoft representatives have always put a lot of effort into supporting us, and we have accomplished a lot together. We will continue to look to Microsoft as a partner as we evolve our infrastructure to improve the services that we offer our customers.”

This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.
Solution Overview

Organization Size: 1200 employees

Organization Profile

Union Bank of Israel Ltd., the sixth-largest commercial bank in Israel, provides comprehensive banking services to both private and commercial customers. In 2011, the bank operated 36 branches and earned ILS132 million (US$35 million) in net profit.

Software and Services
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Enterprise
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Analysis Services
  • Microsoft SQL Server PowerPivot for Microsoft Excel

Vertical Industries


Business Need
  • Business Intelligence and Reporting
  • Mission Critical

IT Issue
  • High Availability
  • Regulatory Compliance and Controls