An interview with Blue Prism insurance customer Old Mutual - part 1
At Blue Prism World 2021, we were joined by Old Mutual leaders, Chief Customer Experience Director Tags Moodley and Applied Intelligence Manager Kusheel Amritlall. Old Mutual, a long-established insurance company, has used intelligent automation to reinvent its approach to business and customer experience. The return on investment? Significant for the business both in terms of time saved and value added.
This interview reveals how Old Mutual achieved so much in such a short time. In this blog - Part 1 - the team talks us through their two-year journey and the impact of automation on their customers. In Part 2, they discuss how they moved through the Blue Prism waves of value, from efficiency gains to business transformation.
Thanks for joining us. Can you start by telling us about how you started your journey with intelligent automation?
Old mutual is 176-year-old company, deeply entrenched in the community, with a very big focus on our employees, and a massive focus on our customers. And, in the words of our CEO we're not just a 176-year-old organization, but really a 24-month-old startup, and everything that we've been doing from a business transformation perspective is really geared in that direction.
Just two years ago, we decided to embark on this RPA journey, which has been transformed into an applied intelligence journey, and we've grown this from a handful of robots to probably the biggest implementation on the continent. If you take one of our operations like the call center, we've scaled it to deliver in excess of 17 million minutes saved. And, I think by any stretch of the imagination, that’s an excellent achievement by the team. But it doesn't come without its challenges, and I think Kusheel will tell us a little bit about that, having led the team through this.
Just building on that concept of a 24-month-old startup is, I think, the differentiation for us. Two years ago, when we first embarked on this Blue Prism journey like Tags mentioned, there was a handful of bots and it was us experimenting, it was us testing conventional business practices to challenge the status quo, to understand how new technology would work in this environment. And, I guess, given a few years of success and fast forward a couple of years, we have a scaled automated workforce. But it hasn't gone without its challenges.
The challenges, really, were at that foundational starting period: conventional things around excess demand and under-supply of certain skills, demand into solution delivery spaces and just a need to rethink how we treat business processing. I think that's where it all started. It was: get in, re-engineer things, understand where there are pain points, and then have a different perspective on it. And I think what RPA and what automation as a whole has brought is allowing us to have that perspective on processes that have conventionally not been changed in years.
It’s been a great journey for us in terms of understanding where automation lies in the business. We started fundamentally in servicing, and now we're looking to expand this and institutionalize this capability across our broader OML business.
It looks like you're really feeling some great success with the automation that you’ve started. What about the customers? What is the digital customer experience like now?
You know, I think digital and digital transformations are interesting. I hate using the term digital because it's almost like saying we are in the age of electricity. But it does tell you, you know you are successful when you stop using the word digital and it becomes natively embedded in everything that you do.
I think that's really where our program is taking us. It's about creating digital citizens and making certain that we can perpetuate that journey in a way that gives our customers access to our services, in a way that's most convenient to them. So, we’re looking at how we identify all our channels, how we understand our customers’ needs, making certain that we have this hyper-personalized approach that does away with the traditional segmentation, and really creates a segment of one around a particular customer.
We do believe that our suite of services, in particular our automation team, is the very thing that will help drive us into the future.
I mean, in terms of digital transformation, that's very interesting as it is the buzzword. I think you become a mature business capability when you stop using the word digital transformation or digitization and you start building on what it means to leverage data. Data about our customers, data about employees to improve processing, and I think that's where we need to head into.
What automation as a whole has enabled us to do is deal with the challenging period over the last few months and the significant impact it's had on our customers. Access to services and access to products has been a challenge with restricted movements, and obviously challenges around employment and access to funds. And what automation has allowed us to do is almost be channel agnostic. It's allowed us to service customers out of different entry points. It's allowed us to respond to actual needs. And I think that's what digital transformation is about, and that’s how we are viewing the part that automation plays in this transformation journey.
It’s not just had a huge impact on your customers, it's also having a huge impact on your business model. What does your future business operating model look like?
This is an interesting question because, at the start, automation carried the negative connotation that it generally does. The way we're viewing it at Old Mutual is about augmenting workforces. It's about creating a highly skilled, multi-skilled digital workforce that supports and augments the capacity that we have already, leveraging the best out of people. And what it's allowed us to do is really understand what are the menial tasks and the repetitive tasks that are consuming time? How can we remove that from the daily life of an administrator, and allow that that person to have more meaningful engagement with customers and apply themselves to different problem solving? Because now we have that capacity to think in that way. And that's really how it has impacted the service model; it's allowed us to not worry about the monotonous mundane tasks and really think about proper service.
As we move forward into the future and think about these future operating models, I think doing the work that we do also allows us to go back to some of the things we used to do that made us great. And that really is the traditional customer engagement augmented with the new ways of engaging with customers. Because I think the important thing is to maintain that end-to-end engagement with your customer rather than from the day they sign up, never hearing from you again until the day there's a claim. It’s important to create a journey for our customers and a life cycle where there's continuous engagement at meaningful times, and at those key moments of truth.
That's the first point I'd make. The second one is we also have an opportunity here because, like Kusheel said, there's sometimes a negative connotation with automation, and we see it very differently. We also see that automation and the work we've been doing out of applied intelligence is actually creating many, many new roles that a few years ago we would have never thought existed.
We've recently gone out into the market looking for what we've called evolution engineers, and these are real business translators with very deep-seated experience in technology, but, at the same time, very strong business acumen and have the ability to bring those two worlds together.