The current lockdown is testing the ability of business to adapt quickly to changing market conditions. Companies that have embraced more digital ways of working have been far less impacted.

Several slower respondents are turning their focus away from only the cost benefits of cloud-based solutions to the agility and responsiveness that they now require. The more connected businesses are those that will survive.

Several years ago, SilverBridge identified the cloud as a key business driver for the financial services industry and therefore also for its own business. It has formed an integral part of its strategy of providing the industry with solutions for modernisation and digitalisation. With Microsoft being a strategic partner for many years, it made sense for SilverBridge to align with their strategy and work closely with them to enable their joint clients.

“We implemented our first cloud-based client project on Microsoft Azure in 2015. This was a few years before the datacentres were available in South Africa and at a time when most financial services companies were still very cautious and sceptical about the cloud. Since then we have worked closely with Microsoft to move more of our solutions to Azure and enable our clients to not only modernise their core line of business systems but also unlock the benefits of digitalising their processes. We now deliver a complete cloud-based digital suite of products to our clients,” says Lee Kuyper, COO at SilverBridge.

Using the SilverBridge Exergy policy administration system on the Microsoft Azure cloud significantly contributes to the ability of its clients to modernise their core insurance system – the heart of their operations. It enables them to scale according to their customer requirements and be more agile in embracing digital technologies to deliver value. This cloud-based approach means an insurer can respond more efficiently to a changing business environment.

Digitalisation in a people-centric way

At a time when engaging with customers and staff is moving from physical to online, it is important to identify how best to apply digitalisation in a practical and people-centric way. Intermediaries, for example, can effectively onboard customers digitally and access critical information from any physical location. This involves replacing the previously physical processes of application and fulfilment with a completely digital experience.

“Those insurers who have already begun their digital transformation would have already put the necessary measures in place to enable staff to operate remotely. We can see that our clients who have partnered with us in using our cloud-based digital solutions still have complete access irrespective of the user’s physical location, ensuring the business can function as normal.”

However, those insurers who have been unable or unwilling to make the move to the cloud and who have been reliant on their own physical infrastructure to manage and engage customers will struggle to effectively do business during the lockdown.

“SilverBridge is now working closely with those customers who still have on-premise deployments to try and fast track a move to the cloud. This will not only modernise the way they work but will also accelerate the digitalisation of their businesses, something which every business would anyway have to do at some point in the future,” adds Kuyper.

However, security must form part of this as employees access critical systems, with sensitive customer information, remotely. Microsoft has already invested over $1 billion in developing security solutions for the Azure cloud, one of the key reasons that SilverBridge has chosen to partner with Microsoft in this regard. They have also largely addressed any regulatory and data protection concerns that businesses might have. If any concerns remain, they have the expert resources to assist clients to effectively deal with them.

A post-pandemic world

The lockdown is giving insurers no choice but to think differently about how business can be done. This includes adopting a more digital and modern approach to prove value in a very uncertain climate.

“Post the pandemic, the world and business in general will be completely different. Companies across industry sectors will embrace online solutions to improve efficiencies and deliver value faster. The next few weeks will see cynics testing a digital way of working and realising that this is the future of industry,” he says.

“People understand this on a conceptual level but need to move past the expected and perceived barriers that exist. They need to start working with the practical elements of modernisation and digitalisation, while dealing with these barriers as they arise.”

Something positive that will come out of the current crisis, is that more businesses will embrace the cloud and digital transformation in more direct, practical, and beneficial ways.

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