Fidelity Life is New Zealand’s largest locally-owned life insurer with a proud track record to match – it's paid NZ$1.1b in claims to its customers since it was founded in 1973 and won the coveted Australian and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance's (ANZIIF) New Zealand life insurance company of the year title for the last three years running.

But, on joining the company as its first-ever chief technology officer in 2017, Dan Wilkinson realised a legacy of under-invested technology was holding Fidelity Life back.

Watch Datacom's customer story about Fidelity Life and Microsoft Dynamics 365

“We were paying a significant amount of money yearly just to run dozens of specialist applications that were actively keeping us in the past,” says Dan.

Before going out to market to buy yet another suite of specialised software products, Dan had a rethink and wanted to challenge the norm.

“We realised that if we really wanted to realise our vision of reimagining life insurance for New Zealanders, buying a life insurance system would lock us into someone else’s idea of what our vision should look like.”

Less than half of New Zealanders currently invest in life insurance and growth is flat across the industry. Fidelity Life was looking for better ways to gain customer insights in order to tailor products and experiences, while at the same time making it easier for advisers and partners to do business with them.

With only one other organisation in the world basing its entire operation on Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 customer relationship (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform, Fidelity Life turned to Datacom, a technology partner with a long track record of helping businesses in diverse industries leverage Dynamics 365 to great effect. The resulting collaboration formed, and continues to do so, a core part of Fidelity Life’s NZ$25m technology overhaul, dubbed ‘Project Watson’ after Fidelity Life founders Gordon and Shirley Watson.

Project Watson, in turn, is the critical enabler of the company’s bold five-year transformation strategy, Winning Aspiration, that aims to reimage life insurance for New Zealanders and deliver sustainable growth.

After initially working with Datacom’s Foundry team, which focuses on design and emerging tech, and beginning the ongoing collaborative process with Datacom’s Dynamics 365 practice, the team began to design a platform from the ground up that would deliver to all of Fidelity Life’s needs.

The resulting minimum viable product (MVP) that emerged showcases the versatility of Dynamics 365 to serve any industry.

Fidelity Life logo

The data of thousands of Fidelity Life customers is now securely captured in Dynamics 365, and the company is working towards having sales, policy details, customer interactions and claims information all in one place for the first time. This will ultimately enable staff to have a single view of each customer across multiple insurance products at once.

Actuarial staff also now have a single platform on which to base their complex insurance pricing and modelling. Commission, reinsurance, and renewals – critical functions in the insurance industry – are all now automated using Dynamics 365.

“Building new products on the technology platform can now be completed in a matter of hours. That could have taken months on our legacy systems,” says Dan.

Building new products on the technology platform can now be completed in a matter of hours. That could have taken months on our legacy systems.

Fidelity Life's Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform is also able to scale up capacity as the company grows and is employing Azure Data Lake for data analytics and Power BI to visualise its business information. A simultaneous move to Microsoft 365 and increased use of Microsoft Teams has helped transform how Fidelity Life’s 270 people work.

“It’s a massive whole-of-business transformation project that’s required a real shift in our people’s mindsets”, says Mark Daniels, Fidelity Life’s chief transformation officer. “But even with a minimum viable product (MVP), we could see how much easier this was going to make things for us on a day-to-day basis.”

It also makes financial sense. Operational costs are forecasted to be lower thanks to the efficiencies achieved through the migration to Microsoft Azure and automation of business tasks in Dynamics 365. Now, Dan and Mark can focus more resources on new innovations to get the most out of Dynamics 365 and improve Fidelity Life’s customer and adviser experience – and hopefully turn a corner on New Zealand’s long-standing under-insurance problem.

“Datacom has been down this path so many times. They were able to tell us exactly what we needed to pay attention to," says Dan.

“That experience in the team has served us incredibly well. We’re still in the early days of this new way of working, but we’ve shown that you can actually run an insurance company on Dynamics 365. We’re now well placed to achieve our ambitious transformation goals.”

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