Zurich’s long-term IT partnership provides confidence to better serve insurance customers around the world
‘We handed over the keys to a really important part of the business and said to Dimension Data: “ Manage this for us”, The fact that we could do that without concerns shows that we fully trust our service provider to perform to the highest level’– Gavin Kandier, Head of Technology. Zurich South Africa
When it comes to money matters, all risks need to be carefully considered in order to make sound investment decisions with insight and forethought. This is how global insurance provider Zurich sees is core business: helping its customers handle risks in the most beneficial way possible. ‘We’re not in the game of price,’ says Collin Molepe, Zurich South Africa’s Chief Operating Officer. ‘We want to provide real value to our customers.’ In doing so, one of the organisation’s key differentiators is its global footprint. ‘Since we operate in over 170 countries, we really have the ability to craft innovative ways in which we can manage risks on behalf our clients.’
Technology a global enabler
As a global organisation, Zurich’s technology environment is absolutely critical in delivering services to customers around the world. Gavin Kandier, Head of Technology at Zurich South Africa, says: ‘In this day and age, most customers don’t interact with their insurer directly, but via an IT medium of sorts. We need to have a technology environment that’s always up and running when our clients need us. If the experience is poor from a technology point of view, then the customer experience will be poor, and that will reflect badly on the Zurich brand and experience.’
Molepe agrees. ‘The world we live in is driven by technology, whether we like it or not. Technology is therefore a critical enabler for our business. We need technology to meet our promise to our customers.’
Multiple partnerships, difficult to manage
Added to these challenges are the constant pressure and pace of business in the financial services market. ‘We live in an environment where you always need to review where you are and what’s coming down the line. So, you need partners who can help you keep up with trends in technology. But when you have a multitude of service providers, there are always issues of ownership and accountability. So we felt that bringing in a single, strong IT partner would be a massive benefit to us.’
Finding the right IT partner was no small feat. It needed to be a good fit for Zurich from more than one perspective, particularly in helping it meet its short-, medium-, and long-term technology aspirations. Molepe explains: ‘We expect our partner to be part of our community, someone who could own a problem jointly with us and whom we could rely on 24/7. When you select a long-term partner, you need to be sure that you understand the implications: you’ll be as good as married to that organisation for an extended period. It’s not a decision to take lightly. Dimension Data fitted perfectly into our current plans, as well as aligned well with the goals we’ve set for the future.’
Matching footprints, depth of knowledge
Kandier believes a similar geographical reach was also crucial in forging the new relationship. ‘Dimension Data as a global company matched Zurich in terms of our footprint and operations.’ Says Molepe: ‘I don’t believe there was anyone that could compete with them. The depth of knowledge really gave us the confidence that they understood our environments and our unique requirements completely.’
New services platform
Dimension Data’s breadth of IT services were combined into a single interface using its Enterprise Services (ES) platform. Dimension Data also tailored a services architecture for Zurich that would be managed by its mature service and governance model, with the objective of aligning and coordinating all operational and remediation activities in the environment.
Data centre to new facility
Molepe explains that another key aspect of the environment the organisation wanted to change was the location of its data centre. ‘We wanted to move our entire data centre facility from one provider to another. This effectively meant that we needed to switch off Zurich’s entire environment, pick up the boxes, move them into the new facility, start them up again, and hope they work. We had to switch Zurich off! It was a tense moment.’ But in the end, the move was a great success and a testament to the strength of the organisation’s partnership with Dimension Data.
Consolidation and transformation through operations
The new ES platform meant that Zurich now enjoyed a single point of contact and easier operational management. As a result of the new services architecture, a culture of ‘transformation through operations’ was adopted and IT service efficiency improved. Automation and self-service efficiencies were introduced and the effort required to support the environment reduced as a result. By consolidating the number of service providers from seven to one, Dimension Data also helped Zurich by delivering a better service at a more competitive price.
Smooth data centre transition
Proof of the careful planning and execution that went into the data centre move was how few people in the rest of Zurich even realised that anything had changed. Says Kandier: ‘When I walked into the office on the Monday morning after we had moved the data centre, most people in the company didn’t know that we had essentially shut down the entire IT environment.’ Molepe agrees: ‘The data centre move is only one example of the strength of this partnership. It was executed at the highest level of quality.’
Long-term partnership for ongoing success
Trust and confidence is key in ensuring the ongoing success of this partnership. ‘We essentially handed over the keys to a really important part of our business and said to Dimension Data: “Manage this for us”. The fact that we could do that without any concerns shows that we fully trust our service provider to perform to the highest level.’ Molepe agrees: ‘We now have a well-run environment – everything is working like it should. We’ve been very fortunate to have Dimension Data as a partner. I’m hoping that, as we grow older together, Zurich and Dimension Data will continue to complement each other in making both our businesses successful.’