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How Aviva tidied up its business processes with Appian

How Aviva tidied up its business processes with Appian

The insurance giant is slowly removing paper-based business processes with bespoke apps built using Appian.

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UK insurer Aviva is increasingly turning to software vendor Appian in its attempts to rewrite tired and inefficient business processes to help speed up customer service response times.

Appian specialises in low-code app development and business process management (BPM) software that can integrate with on-premise backend systems. The company successfully went public in May.

Speaking to Computerworld UK over the phone, Aviva director of operations Paula Whitwell-Lumsden said: "Appian is right at the heart of what we are trying to achieve now."

Whitwell first brought Appian in during her time within the pensions department at Aviva. "I met them around four years ago as I took over the pensions operations team," she said. "I wanted to simplify the way we work."

Using a technique which she calls 'systems thinking', Aviva is embarking on a project to map all of its business processes and take out any waste. By using Appian the business is able to abstract a lot of complexity away from key processes to deliver simplified applications to frontline staff, without shifting core systems or databases to the cloud.

This relies on more usage of application programming interfaces (APIs) to directly call core systems. "We are building API links or removing some spreadsheets to work around things," Whitwell-Lumsden said.

Appian essentially becomes a piece of middleware to avoid laborious database queries when the enterprise wants to run leaner applications. "So where you don't need to surface all of that data, calling a couple of API services into those boxes together means we can surface things for people far quicker, either via the MyAviva app or through an advisor," Whitwell-Lumsden said.

For example, when a pension advisor wanted to fetch customer information it was previously paper-based. By creating an app to fetch this information with Appian the company was able to give advisors 30 percent of their day back, according to Whitwell-Lumsden.

The priority for Aviva is speed of customer service. "We know that call resolution is our biggest measure and Appian has allowed us to get information request instantaneously, which used to take 45 minutes," she said. These frontline advisors now have one simple Appian interface when engaging with customers, allowing them to react to queries quicker.

After a successful pilot within pensions, Appian is being rolled out to processes within the health insurance department as part of what Whitwell-Lumsden calls a "UK transformation programme for systems thinking across all processes".

In terms of actually building the apps, at first Appian would have staff on site to help map processes and rebuild the application, working with IT to earmark the required infrastructure. Now, however, Whitwell-Lumsden says Aviva is more self-sufficient as developers have trained on Appian.