Venerable on Accelerating Digital Transformation for Enterprise-wide Content and Processes
Join the guest speakers from Venerable and discover their journey of digitally transforming experiences. Learn how they are keeping up with the ever-evolving customer expectations and strategizing for the future. Furthermore, explore how they leveraged Newgen to achieve their business objectives.
Watch how Venerable leveraged Newgen’s platform to accelerate digital transformation for enterprise-wide processes.
Anurag: Hello, all. I am Anurag Sha. I head the products and solutions for NuGen. Welcome to the NuGen Connect with our steamed guests from Venerable Insurance and IT Company. Our panelists today are going to share their experience and expertise of accelerating digital transformation for enterprise-wide content and processes. With that, let me introduce our guests. We have our first guest, Ken Brown. Ken is Chief Operations officer for Venerable Insurance and IT Company and president and chief operations officer of the Venerable Broker Dealer Directed Services. He joined INZ in 2005 and has served in a number of sales, operations, and management roles of increasing responsibility since. Ken’s background in managing and building operations and distribution strategies, coupled with his industry knowledge was invaluable in leading Voya to many thriving new partnerships and successful sales performance goals. Prior to Voya, Ken spent 17 years in publishing industry working for the Hurst organization, leading teams providing BPO and IT services. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in marketing from University of Northern Iowa.
Ken Brown : Thank you, Anurag. Appreciate it. Glad to be here.
Anurag: Thank you. Our next speaker on the panel is Zach Duncan. Zach Duncan is the Vice President of Strategic Operations support at Venerable. In his current role. Zach leads a team of multifunctional business analysts and consultants that drive operational strategy and execute strategic projects. His team also provides data retrieval, visualization, and analytics to Venerable leadership. Zach has over 20 years of experience in the industry holding various leadership roles within and life insurance operations at Venerable and its set of companies as well. He holds his Series Six and 26 licenses.
Zach Duncan: Thanks Anurag. Pleasure to be here.
Anurag: Thank you, Zach. And our third speaker of the day today is Prashant Naik. Prashant Naik is the Vice President of Business Applications Support at Venerable in his current role, Brashan leads a team of talented individuals that primarily supports applications that are used by Venerable operations and executes on strategic projects. Phan has over 25 years of experience in the information technology industry, holding various leadership roles within IT at Venerable and extra companies. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in electronics engineering from Bombay University India.
Prashant Naik: Thanks Anurag.
Anurag: Thank you, Brashan. So to kickstart, let me ask Ken. Ken a lot has changed in the last 12 to 18 months forcing enterprises to accelerate their digital initiatives. How has Venerable transformed over the past 18 months?
Ken Brown : Well, thank you, Anurag. Yes, the last 18 months have created the perfect opportunity to accelerate our digital efforts. Many customers have learned that their behavior has needed to change, particularly in the digital space. Without the ability to meet face to face with their advisors, many customers were forced to interact from a digital perspective. We as an organization tried to leverage that opportunity to do two things for customers. Number one, to provide them ease of use through digital delivery and allow them to do more self-service services. In addition to that, we also tried to help them with fraud alerts. We did see an uptick in fraud during this pandemic. And so we launched an email and text alert communication protocol that allows customers to know when there’s any interactions on their accounts.
So those two things were things that we advanced during the pandemic. In addition to that, we leveraged NuGen in a key workflow components that drove transaction automation solutions for our customers, as well as provided scale to Venerable. The NuGen workflow component of our process will provide significant long-term savings to Venerable. And without the support of NuGen and the technology supporters of our organization, we wouldn’t have been able to accomplish what we did. Ultimately we’ll be able to process transactions straight through directly into our admin systems. It also sets us up for processing transactions into any admin system. So very excited about that opportunity.
Anurag: Wow. That’s a great insight. Thanks a lot, Ken. So with that, let me turn over to Zach. Zach, the customer behavior and preferences have changed. What are these changes that you see, which are here to stay?
Zach Duncan: Yeah, sure, Anurag. And Ken alluded to some of this what we experienced during the pandemic, but I think digital self-service and omnichannel engagement engaging across a wide variety of interactions with customers and with Venerable is here to stay. Customers want to interact with us and with other providers really how they want to interact at any given point in time. The customers we serve actually tend to be a little bit older. So 65 years of age is kind of an average age for us, and have certainly seen them interacting more from a digital perspective, say than before the previous 18 months of the pandemic. I don’t see that changing going forward as well. As they’ve gotten more comfortable with that, I think they’re going to recognize the benefits, but we need to still, I think encourage digital delivery of service, whether that be through web interactions, chat, e-Delivery of documents is another key strategy for us that we want to drive from an efficiency perspective from us, but also from an efficiency and green perspective from the customer’s point of view.
Those are all things that we need to continue to focus on delivering and differentiating that digital service from some of the old traditional methods of service, phone calls, letters, forms, those types of things, which we’re still continuing to try to migrate away from. And I think differentiating the service, potentially different service levels or just highlighting the benefits to the customers of the digital service and self-service that they’ve recognized over the last year will continue to be important for us going forward. And then also internally having systems that easily support that self-service and omnichannel engagement is important. You know, we don’t want to have various channels of engagement that tie back to various different processes from our point of view. So to be able to have an efficient workforce and effective workforce that delivers quality work, we need to ensure that we have one or minimal systems and interactions to deliver that type of differentiated service to our customers.
Anurag: Wow. Quite a number of initiatives out there. Brashan, coming to the IT standpoint, Venerable partnered with NuGen and our global system integrator emphasis to transform its customer service ticket management process and modernize the content management solutions. So what are those key benefits you see in this entire transformation journey?
Prashant Naik: I’ll just start by giving you some context around where we were before we stood up Venerable and what was the state of the environment before we took on this transformation. So at Voya, we had two proprietary workflow platforms. We had four content management depositories. On those workflow platforms we had about 150 workflows or so. So when we decided to stand up Venerable, our objective was to consolidate and go to one workflow platform. So we went with NuGen IBPS as that platform and then consolidate those four content management repos into one, which was Omni Dos. As part of that transformation, Ken’s team, Zach’s team. They also took on the initiative of taking those 150 odd workflows and then simplifying those processes and bearing them down to just 13 that we have today. The key benefits of those transformation, one is reduced cost. I mean, as part of the transformation, we went with the SaaS implementation with NuGen. Obvious benefits are less infrastructure overhead from our perspective to maintain and manage and upkeep up that environment.
So we ended up with a simplified environment. Improved efficiency. I mean, you go from four content management repositories to one. So the searching of documents through that repository, the CSR, the customer service experience, the back office person who is searching those documents for processing transaction, there is improvement from the overall efficiency perspective, but a more important benefit was from a strategic perspective. We have now a stable environment, a stable configurable platform. NuGen has easy API integration capabilities. And to what Ken was saying earlier, his vision of introducing additional automation from a transaction perspective, it requires a platform that can interact with the underlying admin systems, pull data from there. And having those API integration capabilities was a very key benefit that I see as a result of transforming and moving to the IBPS and Omni Dos products that we use from NuGen.
Anurag: Great. Thank you. Thank you, Brashan. So Ken, if I could ask you these two things, what Zach and Brashan just spoke about, how these two collectively help transform your business objectives, which you initially kind of alluded to.
Ken Brown : Yeah, so I think Zach hit the nail on the head with regard to our opportunity to continue to have customers interface with us from a digital perspective. The biggest challenge that companies have is customer behavior and advisor behavior. And so providing them with efficient tools and effective ways to interact with us and to provide them a good customer experience is exactly what we’re doing at Venerable. And as Zach also mentioned, the ways of the past, even for the customer base that we’re serving have gone to the wayside. So receiving print and not receiving things digitally is something that I think Venerable will continue to put focus on.
As Brashan mentioned, the content management component of it and the workflow consolidation has given Venerable scalability as well as a deeper insight into our transaction processing than we had historically had with our other workflow tools. And I want to thank NuGen for that. It was something that we knew we had to get better at understanding our transaction interactions with our customers, and the ability now to see the interaction and the steps in our process, much more efficiently has allowed us to actually further our digital solutions. So we now know what we can do that will improve the customer experience because we have a better understanding of the step by step processes.
Anurag: Great. Great. Brashan, let me again come back to you. You mentioned about 150 workflows, and I know that there were about 200 million documents across those four scattered repositories from where you had to migrate when the block got acquired from where in 2019. So from that perspective, what has been your experience on the implementation and going live when you stood up this entire thing for the first time?
Prashant Naik: So, as I mentioned earlier, the task that we had taken on was consolidating the workflow platforms, consolidating the content repositories. We were also rationalizing the workflow, improving our ops processes. We were also migrating 200 million documents, like you mentioned. The size of those documents was around six terabytes. And to add on to all of that, we had set ourselves an aggressive timeframe to separate from Voya, and we were dealing with that. So we got all of this done in a span of eight months or so, roughly. My experience was really good, but it was an overall great team effort, but the key for the success was the fact that Ken and Zach’s team, they had a very clear vision of what they wanted to do with this platform, what they wanted to do with their workflows.
My team had laid out a very good plan from a document migration perspective. Importantly, we were working with very good business partners. Both NuGen and Enforces had demonstrated great partnership during the execution of this project. I mean, just like any other projects, we encountered issues, but both these vendors knew how critical this implementation was for us and they were aware of the timelines that we were up against. So as there were issues that came up, the right teams were brought into action, the right folks from the leadership point of view got involved and got the issues resolved. So to me, I felt that was very important from an implementation perspective. And considering the size of the implementation, even after we went live, this platform stabilized in about two weeks time period. That was pretty amazing considering the amount of changes that we went through and implemented in production in such a short span of time. It’s a very good experience from my perspective.
Anurag: That’s a great experience to be shared with our participants here, who are watching us. So Zach, continuing on the business side, I want to ask two part questions. One, how did you manage your entire workforce using the news and platform from an operation perspective? And the second part is, which Brashan also kind of referred to it. You also had set objectives to rationalize and consolidate. So can you speak on these two?
Zach Duncan: Sure, Anurag. I guess maybe I’ll take your second part first. I think the rationalization of the workflows coming from 150 workflows in our Voya environment down to 13 was a key objective during the process. And Brashan also mentioned that we did this in about eight months. So it was very key for us to try to keep this as simple as possible in order to hit those aggressive timelines for separation. So the team did an outstanding job working with NuGen and Emphasis and Brashan’s team to try to really minimize the number of workflows that we were going to build. What that allowed us to do was to minimize the number of access roles. We initially launched, I think with one primary workflow, I know we have 13, but the bulk of the work goes through one workflow, which is I think an outstanding achievement from the team’s perspective as well.
But being able to look across those workflows, minimize the different access roles that you have to manage, that reduces the overhead, that reduces the complexity from a business and operational perspective. When we’re setting these folks up, that was key to the entire process. We didn’t want to migrate the existing process that we had at Voya because of some of the complexities that were related to that. So that was a key focus. And then in terms of managing our workforce, the simplification has also made it really easy to manage. I think everyone in the workflow. So since migration, we’ve actually made some additional changes to how we manage our work items or our work that comes in. We’ve tried to actually break down our training from an individual processor or call center perspective to individual work items.
So within our environment, we have say a work withdrawal work item, or a death claim work item, or a beneficiary change work item. And before, we had training really structured around a much higher level split between say registered or non-registered business. So very high level. What this has allowed us to do then is route work efficiently. What we were seeing when we first launched NuGen and what we had in our old environment was that work was getting rerouted all over the place. So work would go to somebody who wasn’t trained on how to do that. We’d have to take the time to reroute that somewhere else, cost delay in the process impacted customer experience. Obviously our handle times and our efficiency were not great when we were seeing that. So NuGen has enabled us to be able to break that down to the most simplistic level and then train around that, which has really helped our efficiency.
So those are some of the ways that we’re really managing the workforce. Ken alluded to this a little bit, as well, in the old days, we call it the old days when it’s been 18 to 24 months ago, if we wanted to see what a process looked like and break down the timelines, we would have to sit and do time studies with folks and really record and see how the process worked. But now we actually have essentially real time reporting that tells us by the processor, by the doc type, by the work type exactly how long each process step takes. So we can see an end-to-end handle time for a process and for a processor. And we can actually see the process broken down into chunks. So it’s a tremendous data tool for us to be able to drive process improvement opportunities, training opportunities, all kinds of things like that. So now those are some of the different ways that, we’re using the tools to manage the workforce differently than what we did before.
Anurag: Great. That’s great insight on your operations and workforce. Zach, thank you. So Ken, finally, to conclude, I want to ask you, what are the top three digital transformation initiatives you are going to take in the next 12 months and how do you see NuGen and partnering with you in this journey?
Ken Brown : Thank you, Anurag. Actually we are going to continue our focus on scalability initiatives in terms of simplifying the process workflow initiatives with NuGen as well as self-service on the web. So transaction automation involves both self-service as well as leveraging the NuGen tool to support a more scalable and efficient operational model. One of the key things that we want to focus on is a knowledge management tool that supports our customer service associates with all of the critical information about products, as well as the interactions that have occurred with that customer. And with that, to that point, we want to build out an advisor and customer interaction database so that we are prompting our customers with the appropriate information about their contracts, to provide the CSAs, a more effective tool that allows them to serve that customer more effectively. So we want to build out an analytics database for all customer advisor interactions.
In addition to that, we want to further our digital efforts by allowing advisor to customer digital signature. And so there are tools out there in the marketplace, obviously to do this, but we have a different approach that we’re looking at that will allow us to further the customer experience, allow them to continue to interact with their advisors digitally if they choose. And it will also provide obviously benefit to us. Less paper, more digital interactions. And then finally, as Brashan outlined, our strategy for automating transactions doesn’t stop with our current block. Venerable is always looking to expand and grow our administrative services to additional blocks as we continue to grow.
We want to make sure that this platform supports interactions with other admin systems. So it’ll be a key focus on furthering the work that we have for our own transactions on our current block, but more importantly, setting up for future growth and acquisitions to other administrative systems. So very excited about the opportunities that are before us, very excited about the work that’s been done up to this point and look forward to further developments with the NuGen team, as well as my business partners and IT partners. So thank you very much.
Anurag: Thank you. Thank you so much. It always is so exciting when I’m speaking with you, Ken, Zach, and Brashan on various aspects, the strategic views, Ken, that you bring out from the business perspective, and it goes back to 2019 when we all started this journey all the way up to now and how that comes up with those business initiatives, requirements and the IT thing that Brashan brings in from the policy admin side, from the legacy side, from the transformation side and all of those. It is so exciting to be part of this journey and we are really, really happy to partner with you in your objectives and your goals about where you wanted Venerable to be and where you want Venerable to go ahead. So thanks a lot for sharing this insights. I hope our participants, the audience would have got insights from this panel. Thanks a lot. Much, much appreciated.