Why IAG put Pyrios at the head of business communications.

When IAG insourced critical infrastructure, they put Pyrios in charge of their communications platforms. Growth, including two major acquisitions, put Pyrios’ communications technology and management systems to the test. They passed with flying colours.

Stress test

Growth puts stress on technology systems and the people who manage them. General insurer IAG transacts over a third of the general insurance market in New Zealand. It is the largest insurer by a long shot. The company continues to grow and recently added Lumley Insurance to its stable of retail brands that include State, AMI and NZI.

IAG’s Ian Cormack keeps the wheels turning, paying special attention to shared services, communications and IT infrastructure. He doesn’t sound stressed, not these days, at least, he says. He puts his even keel down to a new technology strategy that has ‘insourced’ control, and switched on IT partners who understand where he’s trying to take IAG’s business.

For years Pyrios worked at arm’s length, as a subcontractor to IAG’s principal outsourcing providers. When these engagements ended, IAG appointed Pyrios to take charge of IAG’s critical communications platforms.

Consolidate, transform, control

Cormack’s main focus is modernising legacy applications, new platforms, and streamlining systems that underpin IAG’s growing stable of brands. A multimillion dollar change programme that brought AMI into the fold has been completed, and the addition of Lumley has boosted the group’s New Zealand head count to 4,200.

Cormack’s current IT strategy stands on two pillars. The first, which he calls “consolidate and transform”, is designed to bed in strong technology foundations that allow individual operating divisions to modernise at their own speed. The other pillar, which is perhaps counterintuitive in the current age of specialist service provision, is insourcing what was once outsourced. To do the job, Cormack has established a team of technology experts and support systems. It’s all about control, he says.

Dialling up performance

Pyrios’ work at IAG is broad and deep, spanning audio visual and video conferencing, contact centres, digital signage, and migrating AMI and Lumley businesses from legacy platforms to IAG’s corporate platform. Pyrios has also extensively reconfigured IAG’s communication platform to support pure SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) which replaced a hybrid service using third-party ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) service, and a workforce management system to schedule 1,300 contact centre agents. Work continues as Pyrios and IAG explore new applications, including IVR (Interactive Voice Response) and extending video conferencing to mobile and personal devices.

Work this sensitive requires a specialist team and management technologies to maintain peak performance around the clock.

Pyrios delivers dedicated account and service delivery managers and three network engineers. Twenty Pyrios engineers provide additional back up and support.

Performance objectives are defined in a service level agreement, which categorises incidents and specifies a time limit for service restoration. Smart monitoring triggers alarms that notify technicians about the nature of an incident and, in some cases, the remedy.
More recently, technology has automated aspects of problem and incident resolution, allowing systems to self-heal. The combination of people, process and smart technology keeps IAG performing at its best. Top priority incidents are in decline, and on a slew of measures Pyrios consistently meets and exceeds agreed service levels.

It’s the kind of performance that transcends all levels of Pyrios’ performance. For example, IAG didn’t lose a single call when it shifted from Nortel to Avaya’s voice platform. Not bad, when you consider that IAG manages around 540,000 inbound calls every month.

“A good supplier is part of your business. They understand what you’re trying to  achieve and provide options rather than  pitch products. Pyrios knows our business  and what we’re trying to achieve.”  
Ian Cormack, Service Manager,  Communications and Shared Services

Moments of truth

Customers don’t think about their insurance providers until they need to make a claim.

However, infrequent contact doesn’t mean that customers have lower expectations of service. If anything, the heightened emotional state accompanying personal disasters makes customers more demanding.

IAG’s contact centres manage the bulk of customer contact and do great work. A number of IAG’s trading brands have been recognised by industry peers. In 2013 IAG was applauded for its performance across a range of measures, and NZI scooped the insurance industry’s intermediated insurer of the year award in both 2013  and 2014.

Pyrios provides the technology and know-how that delivers IAG’s contact centre platform to 1,300 agents across 130 sites. The company has laid the foundations to allow IAG’s customers to connect using their preferred choice of channel in the future.

Meetings – less troubleshooting, more progress

IAG’s meeting rooms are intelligently networked for audio and video conferencing. Meeting organisers use touchscreen control panels to coordinate video conferences and connect laptops to big screens.

However, IAG’s systems often failed at critical moments and people wasted valuable meeting time fiddling with technology, or waiting for IT support. Pyrios stepped in and made several changes that have standardised peripherals, data access points and the touchscreen interface. Each meeting room works in an identical fashion and meetings run smoothly – without IT intervention.

Partner for success

Cormack says Pyrios has proved its value to  IAG, especially now that they’re at the head of the table rather than supporting a principal outsource partner.

“Pyrios sits with us at all levels and they know what we’re trying to achieve.  They know our business.”

Cormack knows what he wants from suppliers. He’s been on the end of both good and bad experiences. The real test, he says, is when things go wrong, as they sometimes do when technology is involved.

 “The technology and services delivered by Pyrios is fundamental to our business. So when something goes wrong, I expect Pyrios to jump, and jump quickly. And they do. We’ve had issues, like everyone does in technology, and the moment something happens Pyrios fronts up and says, ‘you know what, that was us, this is what happened, and these are the steps we’re putting in place to ensure that it doesn’t happen again’.  That’s what you want. You want somebody to come in and say, ‘here’s the situation, here’s how it can be fixed and this is what we’re going to change,” Ian Cormack