Years of research on digital transformation have shown that success rates of these projects tend to be very low; less than 30% actually succeed. It can be especially challenging for companies with multiple homegrown systems that make sharing data difficult. Breaking down organizational silos is a key part of any successful digital transformation, but what do you do when the technology keeps getting in your way?
Our partners at InfoAxon sent us a case study on Britam, a diversified financial services group that used the Liferay platform to tackle these challenges with a project it calls Jawabu. The name means answers in Swahili because the project focuses on getting answers for customers by uniting data and touchpoints across the company.
The bulk of the Jawabu project was moving Britam’s homegrown portals and public websites to a digital experience platform. This would allow the company to support all digital touchpoints with one platform while maintaining a seamless experience for its users across every site.
When transitioning off of legacy systems like Britam did, many companies run into common obstacles around choosing the right technology and managing the migrations well. Britam used the following three strategies to efficiently implement its transformation one step at a time.
1. Think Broadly
When choosing a platform for its digital transformation, Britam knew it needed something that could meet needs horizontally across multiple use cases and contexts within a single technology environment. This meant that the platform would need to offer broad capabilities that were reusable across touchpoints, saving on development time.
By choosing a platform that satisfied horizontal needs (rather than choosing separate, vertical solutions for each type of site), Britam was able to use one platform to create mutliple solutions. They identified common applications that were used across its insurance portals and package them into a single application repository, from which it could draw services as needed. This automated much of the development process for each site, allowing Britam’s team to focus more time on creating unique business value for each touchpoint.
2. Decouple Services
As Britam created different touchpoints, including a corporate intranet, a partner service portal, a financial advisor portal and more, it connected them so they can function as a single presentation layer, implemented on top of an integrated services layer. This approach allows their team to adjust the end user experience as needed without affecting the underlying services. And, as they continue to build and launch new features in phases, each site can pull in the relevant services as soon as they’re available, without needing to update the final UI.
This kind of headless infrastructure makes agility easier for companies that need a website up now, but are still going through significant development phases in the background. Customers shouldn’t have to see the behind-the-scenes mess. They should have a polished product to interact with that evolves seamlessly over time.
3. Run the Marathon, Not the Sprint
Though Britam has more than a dozen sites that were a core part of its digital strategy, it took the time to migrate one at a time to the new platform. This allowed it to control the pace of its transformation and ensure it didn’t tackle too much at one time.
The company learned from each new site implementation and was able to roll that expertise and development into the next project, continuously improving agility. Once it has a site on the new platform, the team can continue refining the integration, such as incorporating it into a centralized identity management system.
A New Era of Convenience
Britam’s digital experience platform has been rolled out with exceptional success, and earned the company the CIO 100 Award for East Africa. Britam sees this as a new era of convenience for its users, with improved business processes, enhanced structures, and state-of-the-art IT systems that position the company for future growth.
And it isn’t just about upgrading the technology. With the new platform in place, Britam has revamped the online experience for its customers, financial advisors, partners, employees, and investors. The financial advisors have seen some of the best benefits, as timely manual processes for creating quotations have been replaced by a one-click self-service application for customers.
Additionally, Britam has used Liferay for a separate business unit, Britam Microinsurance, to digitize manual processes by building a partner portal that cuts claims processing time by 80%.
Though Britam began with multiple homegrown systems, it was still able to tackle digital transformation through a solid strategy that allowed it to control the pace of change in the company. By focusing on the broad needs of all its sites, it was able to launch each touchpoint with basic functionality fairly quickly, and then use its development resources to continue improving each site according to its unique needs.
This article was originally published in 2017 but has been updated in 2020 for accuracy and comprehensiveness.