Suncorp New Zealand is doubling down on developing a technology-enabled workforce following its adaptation to fully remote work during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
The insurer, which reported $1.7 billion in premium revenue in the year to 30 June 2020, began enabling fully remote and flexible work in 2016 powered by a hybrid architecture built around Nutanix hyper converged infrastructure (HCI).
It was a strategy that proved prescient, enabling the company to continue serving customers throughout the pandemic.
“We had two days’ notice before the country went into lockdown,” Jane Brewer, Suncorp NZ’s executive general manager of technology and transformation, said.
“But because we didn’t have to worry about our underlying technology infrastructure, we were able to focus on ensuring our people had the equipment they needed to work safely at home, and on supporting them during the transition.”
Now, Suncorp NZ is bringing on additional Nutanix capabilities, such as clusters – a multicloud extension tool between public and private cloud environments.
Clusters is expected to be central to the firm’s technology roadmap.
The scalability and simplicity of the Nutanix platform were central to Suncorp NZ’s transition to remote work, but the benefits also support the insurer’s long-term strategy of digital-first customer engagement.
“Because we’ve led with an infrastructure-first approach, much of the day-to-day operations and maintenance of our infrastructure have been greatly simplified, and our IT teams are empowered to focus on projects that generate more value for our employees and customers,” Brewer said.
One of these projects is the development of application programming interfaces (APIs) and portals to enable its network of brokers and advisers to integrate directly with Suncorp NZ’s core systems to streamline customer service.
“Our infrastructure means we have no constraints and are in a position to focus on our business transformation,” said Brewer. “This approach has helped us attract and retain high-performing employees who believe in the value of what we do and are committed to continuously doing more for our customers.”
The company is already the A/NZ region’s largest adopter of Files, Nutanix’ software-defined, scale-out file storage solution for unstructured data.
“Our infrastructure has played a huge part in supporting our employees to find a balance between individual preferences, productivity rhythms, and the needs of our customers and the business,” Brewer said.
“We’re now focused on further developing our digital-enabled workforce and building the technological capability of our people.”
“Suncorp NZ’s mature approach to digital transformation meant it recognised early that if you want to digitise the customer and employee experience, you need to first start with the infrastructure that supports it all," said Lee Thompson, managing director at Nutanix A/NZ.
“With the core infrastructure in place, they will be able to pursue a multicloud strategy spanning AWS and Azure for the applications suited to public cloud, while their private cloud supports the workloads they need to keep closer to home."
Suncorp NZ also owns the Vero business in New Zealand as well as a 68 per cent share of AA Insurance.