Sanlam drives innovation in Africa
Sanlam is one of the 50 largest internationally active insurance groups in the world. Headquartered in South Africa, it presents a diversified financial services offering to individuals and institutional clients across a number of selected global markets and has the most extensive insurance footprint in Africa.
At Sanlam, digital transformation and business strategy are two sides of the same coin.
As a centenarian provider of financial solutions to individual and institutional clients, Sanlam’s understanding of the imperative for cutting-edge digital solutions is firmly rooted in its desire to offer its customers a seamless and meaningful insurance experience.
Driven by this commitment, and with the understanding that insurance customers expect alignment in their day-to-day experience of technology – whether from their bank, telco or other service providers – Sanlam has been a pioneer in the adoption of digital ways of working in the insurance and personal finance industries on the continent.
Involving Executives From Day One
The practical manifestation of the manner in which innovation today underpins the strategic themes in Sanlam Personal Finance, the Group’s retail business, is evident in its product leadership, its creation of intuitive client journeys, Omni-channel transformation and success in driving operational excellence.
Moreover, Sanlam has successfully initiated digital transformation by having the executive for each area take overall responsibility, rather than by relying on a separate innovation team. This means that employees drive digital transformation in the business by focusing on solving key business challenges for their own business units.
“For us, Plug and Play plays a crucial role in helping us to understand the market and identify those solutions that can help us with specific problems.” - Hennie De Villiers
Access to the world startup scene
The importance of tapping into the global digital innovation landscape became evident to Sanlam early in its journey, and in April 2018 it became Plug and Play’s first African insurance partner. This enabled Sanlam to tap into the largest startup ecosystem in the world.
“In the past we had to do all the research ourselves to understand what's out there. Now we can talk to Plug and Play, we can indicate that we're looking for a solution in a specific area and they can source possible start-ups for us talk to, do a deal flow and decide which of them we want to go forward with.” - Hennie De Villiers, Deputy CEO: Sanlam Personal Finance
Scan, Test and Learn: Sanlam’s innovation approach
Sanlam’s experience has led it to adopt an innovation approach of ‘scan, test and learn’. This enables it to see what is happening in the market, understand digital trends and identify where innovation is taking place. Sanlam is then able to apply the knowledge gathered to address its own challenges, identify opportunities and select the appropriate proofs of concept.
Over the last few years Sanlam has successfully launched of a number of market-leading products and services including Sanlam Indie, MiWayLife and Go Cover.
“Working with Plug and Play on big projects is certainly very interesting.” - Dawie Adlem, Head of Business Change at Sanlam
Leveraging the Plug and Play partnership has brought success already.
By incorporating the DataRobot solutions into their business intelligence environment the company could speed up its analytics processes significantly and provide data scientists with unique insights and angles to look at a certain problem. Through its relationship with Vidado, Sanlam was able to solve a challenge around service requests received in handwritten format. In that way the business could improve the client experience of its service offering, including the use of artificial intelligence.
A view ahead
Sanlam’s belief in the fundamental change brought by insuretech and its stated commitment as a client-centric company underscores its ongoing involvement with startups and its association with Plug and Play.
Sanlam is focusing on the transformation of its business processes and the manner in which it interacts with clients and financial planners along the breadth of its offering - from marketing, distribution, sales, administration and right up to the claim stage.
Following the success of its engagement with Plug and Play to date, the company is now keen to explore the Asian ecosystem of startups.
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