Giving Customers What They Want Gives Aviva a Competitive Edge

Aviva is passionate about understanding what customers want. And in recent years, a growing number of Aviva’s 31 million customers around the world have made it clear that digital is how they want to do business.

That’s why Aviva has made digital central to the way it operates. Aviva is a company that is going through a digital transformation: Digital is one of three key areas where senior leaders are committed to allocating significant resources. The company is intent on increasing its share of the direct digital channel and developing more effective use of data and new technology.

According to Graeme Hall, IT manager at Aviva, the digital focus isn’t just about delivering products online. It’s about the rapid development and delivery of innovative products that address customer needs and concerns across all product lines, including general and life insurance, long-term savings products and fund management services.

Aviva: Automation Innovator of the Year Finalist for 2014

Aviva is an Automation Innovator of the Year Finalist for 2014

Which brings us to a second key area of investment at Aviva: Automation. Automation is a key enabler of the digital transformation. “If we’re going to make the shift to a digital enterprise, we need to cut costs, increase agility and improve the quality of the solutions we offer,” Graeme explains. “And the only way to do all those simultaneously is through a great automation initiative.”

Aviva’s automation efforts are improving efficiency and cutting overhead costs. The efforts are also freeing up staff time to focus on innovations that deliver value to customers and shorten the time it takes to move products from concept to launch. What’s more, the company is improving quality by eliminating the human error that can occur when manual processes are used. Graeme notes that by achieving efficiency, cost-cutting and quality goals, Aviva can price its products more competitively, which means customers get more for the money they spend.

How Aviva Dialed Automation up a Notch

Aviva’s IT team has been using BMC BladeLogic Server Automation for several years to manage application releases more effectively. IT recently expanded its use of BladeLogic to automate production system changes, which include fixes and enhancements as well as the introduction of new solutions.

Previously, these changes required shutting down customer-facing websites, implementing the change and then restarting the sites. To minimize the impact on customers, IT would bundle multiple changes into big packages for rollout at night and on weekends. Waiting for an opportune time to turn off revenue-generating websites sometimes delayed the delivery of enhancements and new services that would improve the customer experience. And with online customers wanting to shop for insurance at night and on weekends, shutting down was risky. In the digital world, if your site isn’t running, consumers simply click their way to a competitor’s site.

IT’s solution was a rapid deployment strategy that uses BladeLogic to implement individual production changes as soon as they are available — without taking down revenue-generating websites. For example, if a business team wants to add a customer offer or change the options available on an insurance policy, the team creates a package with only that change and rolls it into production as soon as it’s ready — even in the middle of the business day.

“Our business teams were a bit skeptical,” Graeme notes. “But when they saw that we could implement changes during the business day without disrupting revenue-generating sites, they were really excited. They understood that it would make Aviva more responsive to what our customers want from us, which gives us a competitive edge.”

BladeLogic is also helping Aviva meet rigorous compliance requirements, which are the norm in the highly regulated financial services industry. Because the Aviva compliance solution documents all changes it makes and detects any systems that drift out of compliance, the company is always “audit ready” and can respond quickly to audit requests with documentation that shows due process and segregation of duties. The staff can create reports with one click instead of assigning people to spend days collecting data from all the relevant systems and entering the data in a spreadsheet to demonstrate compliance to the auditors.

This reporting reduces risk by providing full visibility into vulnerabilities that could compromise sensitive data and applications and enabling IT to be proactive in its remediation efforts. “Before we implemented BladeLogic, it could take many days or weeks to remediate server and network vulnerabilities,” Graeme remarks. “With BladeLogic, we’ve cut that time to just a few hours to remediate critical vulnerabilities.”

Finally, to further accelerate the introduction of new digital services in production, Aviva has started to apply BladeLogic to improve developer productivity. For example, developers use Jenkins tools and plugins to support their development efforts. The staff created a one-touch deployment capability that allows developers to initiate packages from within Jenkins, reducing handoffs that were previously done manually. This self-service approach is faster and easier for developers.

Facilitating the Transformation to Digital

Aviva is more than pleased with the new level of automation, which is improving customer satisfaction by speeding time to market and increasing availability of customer-facing websites. Efficiency gains are minimizing costs, which allows the company to set more affordable pricing.

The company has reduced overtime pay for evening and weekend change deployments, saving money and improving team morale. Plus replacing the extra-large change packages with smaller, targeted changes has dramatically reduced the risk that something will go wrong as a result of a change.

“By fast-tracking the rollout of changes and improving the availability of our revenue-generating sites,” Graeme concludes, “Bladelogic is enabling IT to drive Aviva’s transformation to digital. At the same time, it’s reducing business risk through more effective compliance and keeping our costs in check through automation.”

These postings are my own and do not necessarily represent BMC's position, strategies, or opinion.

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Peter Chargin

Peter Chargin

I'm the Senior Director of Solutions and Product Marketing for BMC Datacenter Automation and Cloud. I've been working in software products for enterprise customers longer than I care to admit (more than 20 years - ouch!). I'm currently responsible for all product and solutions marketing activities for the DCA, Cloud and DevOps products at BMC. Previously, I've had similar roles HP Software and Mercury in the Application Management, Service Management, and Automation product lines. I've also been involved in some great startups and have always concentrated on working with the software development and IT operations teams in the companies I serve. I love bringing together the customers and product teams to help solve important problems.