One Small Transformation For Me, One Giant Transformation For The Enterprise [ARTICLE]

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Seth Adler
11/12/2018

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Nadia devilla
VP, Head of Digital Transformation & Business Development
Manulife

A REVIEW OF THE LANDSCAPE WHEN I ARRIVED

Two and a half years ago, Manulife was in the midst of a strategic crossroad. The organization knew it was ripe for change and the lack of any bold action would trigger their decline.


“Transformation” was more than a buzzword for us and investments were poured into a much needed, large-scale, multi-year technology overhaul. However, this consumed business owners who in-turn were mostly overwhelmed as they attempted to balance business-as-usual with transformation.


nadia1I had the good fortune of joining the team whose mandate was and is “to drive Business Optimization within the Investments Division of the organization.” But with a mandate like that, where does one begin?! How does one optimize when the business is being turned on its heels?!


We initially started by taking on a logical yet huge task – help businesses redesign their target operating model.


We had some successes, however businesses could not think beyond their current challenges. We pivoted and took on tactical work (i.e. writing procedures). We then extended our efforts by taking on the responsibilities of preparing businesses for the change (i.e. organizational readiness). This allowed us to get entrenched within the businesses while allowing us to become more relevant to the business, albeit tactically.


Leap forward a few months, with a couple of conversion phases under our belt — our team was able to highlight and identify gaps within the transformation (i.e. proliferation of manual procedures despite introduction of technological changes). Because of this, we were able to get seed funding to conduct an RPA pilot to determine how we could accelerate or augment transformation and eventual benefits realization.

WHAT WE STARTED MEASURING AND HOW WE MEASURED IT

We had a successful pilot where we were able to demonstrate and measure the capacity lift created by robotics. The ability to measure this earned us the opportunity to extend our efforts. A key learning from the pilot as well is the importance of having a tool to measure (even at a high level) the effort and benefits of applying robotics onto a process. With a simple excel tool and straightforward criteria (such as time spent, level of resource, structured/unstructured data, number of systems in use), we were able to measure complexity and feasibility of robotics.


This allowed us to have objective conversations with the business owners and allowed us to demonstrate how we can augment existing transformational efforts – that is, we were not bastardizing the benefits from the large-scale program, rather accelerate if not add to it.

The Digitalization & Automation Team approach and resource capabilities can be expanded to other innovation echnologies

WHAT WE CHANGED AND THE BENEFITS AND VALUE RECEIVED

Key areas we affected were:

  1. How we viewed manual procedures – i.e. these are gold and a feeder to our robotics efforts
  2. How we viewed our captive outsource in Manila

Benefits and value received:

  1. Standardized processes – enabled us to consolidate work within teams and drove to more standardized processes and limited exceptions
  2. Low cost technology – allowed us to introduce automation changes much faster>
  3. New capability / skill for the team

HOW WE’RE NOW ADDING VALUE TO THE ENTERPRISE

In addition to the above, we were able to reposition and even rebrand the team to the Digitization and Automation team. In addition to Robotics, the approach and resource capabilities can be expanded to other innovation technologies. The team is now positioned to continue to add value by not only enabling the organization to meet its financial targets but we now our enabling the organization to think innovatively and enable them to fail quickly, yet safely in the quest of doing things better.

AND THAT ONE SMALL STEP FOR ME:

I personally have now moved on to head our digital transformation efforts within the Insurance Division.

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