Innovating to stay relevant

Posted on November 19th, 2018 - Lees in Afrikaans |

Embracing the latest technology is crucial for SPF to meet and exceed client expectations and offer an optimal service.

Technology is playing an increasingly central role in our day-to-day lives and has become a defining factor to the future success and survival of most businesses, including SPF,’ says Hennie de Villiers, Deputy CEO: SPF.

Changing client behaviour, fintech, new regulations and non-traditional new entrants to the industry have made it inevitable that SPF must adapt to the digital world in order to stay relevant, he says.

‘Disruptive innovations such as Uber, Airbnb, mobile messaging platforms, digital marketing, artificial intelligence and machine learning have set new expectations for client experience. We’re competing with the best experience a consumer has ever had.’

Intermediaries will remain a key part of the value chain, Hennie adds. ‘Based on our research, clients still want much of the value traditionally provided by an intermediary – information, explanation, insight, record-keeping and transactional support.

‘The future is about enhancing the delivery of intermediary value-adds by using digital technology. It requires the traditional intermediary to also develop a digital value proposition.’

Above all, clients want to work with brands they trust, Hennie says. ‘But they also want to switch seamlessly between their intermediary and Sanlam (and back), according to circumstances. This goes for all client segments, not just tech-savvy clients and millennials.’

SPF employs a number of approaches on our digital journey:

  • To scan the environment, learn and test new ideas and concepts, we leverage our relationship with Plug and Play
  • In some cases we build new solutions or create internal ‘start-ups’ – examples include Indie, Go Cover, BrightRock and MiWayLife
  • Ultimately, however, it’s crucial that our core Sanlam businesses be digitally transformed.

New solutions


‘Indie is working to digitally transform the entire client experience of insurance. We’ve started by focusing on the sale and support experiences,’ Hennie says.

Indie’s capabilities include:

  • Digital onboarding and underwriting
  • A digital product suite, including a built-in reward mechanic
  • Sales tools for intermediaries (still in pilot phase)
  • Sales support via chat and voice
  • Partnership technology.

‘The Indie platform allows us to secure key partnerships and to configure the user experience, branding and product rules for each partnership we enter, such as with Bonitas and The Sunflower Fund.’

Sanlam Go Cover

Sanlam Go Cover is a dynamic personal insurance platform that offers on-demand accidental injury and death cover. It was launched in December 2016 as the world’s first on-demand personal cover platform, offering instant cover for up to 24 hours, from R10 for R100 000 to R30 for R1 million.

In August 2017 this revolutionary product received global recognition from Frost & Sullivan as the 2017 Insurance Product Innovation of the Year.

Next month the ‘dynamic’ platform solution will be launched, offering cover of more than 30 days, group purchases and recurring and custom cover, accompanied by dynamic pricing, benefit and risk adjustment.

Core business innovation

Technology innovation is already bearing fruit in our core businesses, Hennie says, as borne out by these examples:

Glacier Investment Hub

The Glacier Investment Hub has set the benchmark for portfolio management in SA and gives Glacier and Sanlam a leading edge.

The hub makes managing client information easy by enabling intermediaries to create and maintain details from one central place. A variety of client documents are imported from an external management system and stored on the hub.

Intermediaries can:

  • Use the search filter or advanced search to find
    clients, create model portfolios by selecting funds,
    allocating percentages and defining the risk levels
    and benchmarks, analyse and compare different
    portfolios and wrap funds, and create customisable
    reports to present to clients
  • Prepare a quick quote or customised proposal for a client’s new or current investment – and complete the application form through an easy to use web-based front end that guides the intermediary through the steps
  • Submit investment proposals and applications with a straight-through, paperless process that allows clients to sign digitally. When filling in information, there’s no need to recapture data such as client details.

Since inception a year ago the hub has achieved a 70% adoption rate within three months. Less than 30% of quotes are now done by the call centre – previously this was above 60%. On average 15% of cases use the full segmentation, targeting and positioning (STP) process.


E-sign capability has become part of the business process in SPF Distribution. It allows the client to sign documents electronically in a secure and authenticated way, removing the need for an intermediary to visit a client just to obtain a signature. E-sign offers convenience to clients, reduces paperwork and speeds up sales and other processes.

Sanlam Sky

Sanlam Sky’s self-service kiosks offer an easy, seamless service to clients who can get access via a touchscreen interface using a one-time PIN authentication. Clients can print forms for claims as well as their portfolio or tax certificates.


Sanlam has introduced robotics in selected business areas to improve our client and intermediary experience, increase value and reduce costs. Robotics will augment and strengthen Sanlam’s workforce and free up people to do more meaningful work.

SPF has started implementing robotics in some back-end policy administration processes in the Client Care Centre, targeting high-volume simple, repetitive tasks. It’ll also be used in other selected areas of the business.

The targeted outcomes are:

  • Significant improvement in service level agreements (SLAs)
  • Improved quality at speed
  • Reduced costs
  • Enhanced experience by combining humans and bots
  • Enablement of a broader digital strategy
  • Enabling people to do more meaningful work.

We’ve started with simple process automation as a first step, Hennie says. This will be followed by chatbots, artificial intelligence and machine learning on our journey towards smart, cognitive automation.

Plug and Play

Sanlam is the first SA insurer to join Plug and Play – the world’s largest global innovation platform – as a core insurtech partner. Plug and Play:

Accelerates and invests in start-ups – running more than 24 stage-agnostic programs a year and investing in 160+ companies

Matchmakes start-ups and corporations:

  • 200+ multinational corporate partners
  • 5 000+ world-class technology vendors
  • 200+ investors.

Provides flexible co-working space – it has a 16 700m² building in the heart of Silicon Valley with tiny teams used to rapidly grow start-ups

Hosts major industry events daily – hundreds of events a year that unlock great networking opportunities.