That project had been partly driven by post-financial-crisis regulatory and compliance demands, with the new system making it quicker and easier for the company to retrieve recorded conversations should a transaction be disputed, or a regulator demand access.
“But the biggest driver was the capability of the new platform in terms of its ability to manage in-bound calls, as well as improving efficiency. It means we can more easily divert and manage calls, so we can increase our ‘first time fix’ when a call comes in. We have improved our call handling times, turn-around on queries and ability to transfer work between sites. It’s given us both back-end efficiencies, as well as helping us to improve opera-tional efficiencies as well,” says Warner.
The ability to run such major projects almost concurrently has been supported by one of the key “campaigns” over the past 18 months – a drive to reduce the amount of time and effort IT staff spent on trouble-shooting.
“We have had a big focus on what we call throughput and productivity, which has been one of our big items [in IT] over the past year or so. One of our big pushes was to reduce our incident rate, so that we spend less time doing third-line main-tenance of our applications, and more time doing delivery and change,” says Warner.
Indeed, customer care is key for insurance companies today when so much of their business is being driven online – either on companies’ own websites, or by the business driven via aggregator websites. That also generates its own data management challenge.
“When we’re quoting or serving someone, the more we know about them when they arrive the better, because we can come up with the most appropriate quote at the best price, or we can deliver better customer service.
“There’s a lot of data out there that you can pull in from your own or third-party systems, such as credit reference agencies. So you have the traditional challenge of getting the ‘single view of the cus-tomer’, but also a historic view of all the business they have done with the com-pany if they are a returning customer. So how do I leverage information that’s available to me to better target my offer to them?”
On the life side, though, the data management challenge is eased by the fact that some 90 per cent of business is generated via independent financial advisers (IFAs) rather than directly, reducing the customer service overhead – although that may change when new rules governing IFAs’ commission start to bite.
From mainframe to cloud
Cloud, of course, is an ever-present consideration for many CIOs today, and is something that Warner is examining for its potential impact on LV.
“We already have a number of cloud-based services at the moment. They are important services, but not core transaction services for the business. Some of our HR systems, for example, are cloud-based, such as learning and development, and expenses,” says Warner.
Of immediate interest, he adds, is infrastructure-as-a-service, which he sees potentially supplanting LV’s lower and mid-range servers before it encroaches on its mainframe estate, which runs the backbone of the organisation.
“The business benefit of cloud is in leveraging emerging and niche technology; it’s the ability to spin-up new capability quite quickly to leverage any new tool that emerges or a new opportunity,” he says.
However, LV will proceed pragmatically, he says, but always with an eye on price and performance. “I want to create a more variable and flexible cost base and a more flexible environment that isn’t based on purchasing a commodity, but processing power,” he adds.