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Blog | Aug 2, 2021

Digital Transformation in Insurance — Old Mutual’s Triumph

Digital Transformation Insurance - Old Mutual
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Like many sectors, the insurance industry embraces digital transformation for smarter, more efficient and highly responsive business operations. For deeper insight into these innovations, we explore everything you need to know about the transformation of the insurance industry and share the valuable perspectives of Old Mutual leaders, Chief Customer Experience Director, Tags Moodley and Applied Intelligence Manager, Kusheel Amritlall.

Old Mutual is a long-established insurance company that used intelligent automation (IA) to reinvent their approach to business and the customer experience. They were able to save time and add value.

Watch the full interview on video here.

What is Digital Transformation in Insurance?

In the past, mentioning insurance would generate images of a slow, manual and outdated sector. This perception stems from the insurance industry’s historical reluctance to embrace emerging technology. However, with better security and compliance, that’s no longer the case. The sweeping wave of digital transformation across all industries has catalyzed the insurance sector to shed its old ways.

In insurance, digital transformation means adopting technology to create or improve business processes, products and services. Intelligent automation (IA), a combination of cognitive technologies, and robotic process automation (RPA), the use of software robots that mimic human actions, are pivotal components of this transformation.

Interview with Old Mutual on Digital Transformation in Insurance

SS&C Blue Prism: How did you start your journey with intelligent automation?

Tags Moodley, Old Mutual: “Old Mutual is a 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.”

Kusheel AmritlallOld Mutual : “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 SS&C 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 haves 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.”

Examples of digital transformation in insurance

Old Mutual gave the example of scaling their call center with automation to save time and resources, but there are plenty more examples of how digital transformation can create better insurance practices.


IA and RPA can enhance the underwriting process by automating data extraction, data validation and document reviews. Underwriters can dedicate their efforts more intentionally towards higher-value or more complex policies — ensuring your organization can deliver against higher customer expectations.

IA helps detect fraud patterns, create predictive business models and generate real-time insights for decision-making.

Learn how IA and RPA can help with each underwriting stage.

Claims processing

Digital workers can automate the entire claims process. Employees no longer feel overwhelmed and pressured to do manual claims filing. Instead, digital workers extract data, validate information, cross-reference for accuracy and generate real-time customers updates. This helps speed up the claims processing cycle, reduces errors from manual input and frees more time for customer servicing.

Learn how the Zurich Insurance Group, one of the world’s most established insurers, invested in a successful IA program.

Discover more examples and use cases of RPA and IA in insurance.

The Benefits of Digital Transformation in Insurance

When you look at the benefits of digital transformation, it’s easy to see why many sectors embrace digital transformation. Here are just a few key benefits:

  • Cost savings as automation streamlines and reduces reliance on physical resources.
  • Improving customer experience as digital channels enable personalized and swift responses, increasing customer satisfaction.
  • Creating data-driven decisions through RPA digital workers who collect, enter and validate data consistently and accurately. They can also help with predictive analytics.
  • Scaling as digital systems can easily accommodate increased workloads without significant structural or resource adjustments.
  • Improving compliance with built-in security measures and auditable processes.
  • Aiding risk management with accurate and high-quality insights for informed decision-making.

We asked Old Mutual about some of their successes, including how their customers feel now and what their digital customer-facing experience is like:

Tags Moodley, Old Mutual: “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 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.”

Kusheel AmritlallOld Mutual: “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.”

Challenges of Digital Transformation in Insurance

As with other industries, digital transformation has challenges due to the complexities in traditional sectors. Some of these challenges include:

  • Legacy systems: Insurance has a long history, so it’s unsurprising that many companies still rely on legacy systems and outdated insurance products that may still objectively ‘work.’ These systems are often complex and difficult to integrate without the right strategy.
  • Regulations: The industry is heavily regulated, and adapting new digital solutions can be time-consuming without help.
  • Data sensitivity: There’s a significant amount of sensitive customer data in the insurance sector, and digital transformation requires careful consideration of this fact.
  • Culture: People are probably one of the largest challenges when it comes to change. Getting executive and employee buy-in is essential for successful digital transformation.

Despite these challenges, many insurance companies are already successfully navigating their journeys. How are they doing this? Through a comprehensive strategy and robust plan of action. Learn more about overcoming digital transformation barriers. 

Digital Transformation Components

SS&C Blue Prism: If we look at automation as three waves, starting with efficiency and productivity, then moving on to business performance, and finally peaking with business transformation —–. Where would you say you are on this scale?

Tags Moodley, Old Mutual: “We started off in a place where we were really focusing on efficiency. I think we moved from good to great and now I think we're in a state where we're moving from great to greater than. And that's really putting us in that space of business transformation. So, we’ve moved from that space of efficiency gains to a real customer-led and customer- experience focus. Everything that we do in line with our business philosophy and our strategy is really putting customers at the center of everything that we do, focusing a lot more on the ‘why’ are we doing things and making certain that we continuously amaze customers with our service and our advice.”

Kusheel AmritlallOld Mutual: “In terms of how automation supports that, and the phases of how we've looked at this, you have the conventional ‘initialize, industrialize, institutionalize’. We've been following those stage gates in terms of how we treat the capability and the maturity of the capability. In terms of output and benefits and what's really being seen as tangible benefits —- yes, we started by looking at service productivity and efficiency gains and it still is an important criterium for us. But I think as we move into that more expanded, institutionalized type of capability, the prerogatives and imperatives of different lines of business become different., And customer experience becomes something that we’re driving holistically as a business with almost all of our strategic teams, with the efficiencies and productivity gains happening as a consequence.

And really, it's around driving that centralized customer experience —- that segment of one that Tags mentioned —- simplifying Old Mutual’s complex nature using automation, and creating those sorts of authentic, seamless, frictionless experiences with customers. That's where we think we are now in that transformation phase. : going back, understanding where things could have been done better, [and] expanding to different parts of the business where we can apply these technology technologies and techniques in proper strategic ways. And I think that's more on the transformation side, but without losing the goal of gaining efficiencies and productivity.”

Everyone’s transformation journey is different. Old Mutual highlighted how their focus shifted from efficiency to the customer, and how they remained focused on their automation aims and learned from past experiences. Here are a few more components to help you with your digital transformation:

  1. Start with a vision. Understand your key challenges and demands.
  2. Involve key stakeholders. Get buy-in from decision-makers at the start.
  3. Establish a governance board. Stay compliant and on target.
  4. Establish a Center of Excellence (CoE). It helps ensure expertise, upskilling and motivation.
  5. Maintain operational continuity. Safeguard your process automations with backup strategies and infrastructure.

What Does the Future Look Like for Digital Transformation in Insurance?

As automation continues to jump from strength to strength, digital transformation in insurance is here to stay. And as new, more advanced digital technologies emerge, the landscape will continue to advance, adapt and evolve.

We asked Old Mutual about their future business operating model and what that’ll look like:

Kusheel AmritlallOld Mutual: “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 person to have more meaningful engagement with customers and apply themselves to different problem- solving? Because now we have theat 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.”

Tags Moodley, Old Mutual: “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.”

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