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January 21, 2022

For more than 150 years, people looking for insurance products in the Netherlands have turned to the brands that now form the core businesses of Athora Netherlands. Zwitserleven, Reaal, and asset manager ACTIAM, together serve 2.1 million customers and have USD76 billion assets under administration.

The Netherlands is a place where some early forms of insurance were invented. When Athora Netherlands decided it needed to future-proof the foundation of the financial function, it turned to Tata Consultancy Services as a trusted partner on its business transformation.

“I’m a firm believer that technology enables people, and people in turn enable companies,” says Raymond Roussou, Head of Accounting and Financial Control at Athora Netherlands, “but you need to have a good infrastructure and you need to have a good platform.”

As a global leader in technology in finance, TCS was well positioned to deliver the digital infrastructure and solid platform that Athora Netherlands required.

From legacy to sustainable business

As Athora Netherlands evolved and grew, a complex network of disparate systems emerged to manage business and customer needs. “There were more than 40 source systems that were feeding through different interfaces in the finance function,” explains Roussou. “We saw that we were still doing a lot of manual controls.”

With these outdated legacy systems standing in the way of progress, Athora Netherlands and TCS set to work on a business transformation journey. The program was built on the shared belief that a digital core at the heart of the business was the only way the company could meet its goal of better serving its customers and the communities in which it operates.

“The legacy was at the heart of the business,” says Rohit Dass, from TCS Europe’s Financial Services and Insurance Benelux division. “It was built for a different era. But things have changed, because of the expectations of the customer and the volumes of data available.”

Future-proofing business operations

The business transformation journey at Athora Netherlands is a three-stage process. Arunava A. Chakrabarty heads the Software as a Service Business Development and Strategy for TCS in the UK and Europe. He explains how the process is moving ahead.

“For phase one of the program, we decided to move the ledger systems into the Oracle Financials Cloud. We did a complete redesign of the finance business function,” he says, creating “a future-oriented system that gives a single version of the truth and, more importantly, a 360-degree view of the finance ecosystem”.

Phase two is already underway, explains Roussou. “That’s about rerouting all the source systems towards the cloud. Part three will be putting the other finance capabilities and automation on that new cloud.”

The cloud infrastructure at Athora Netherlands is based on the Oracle Financials Cloud. Further AI and machine learning systems running alongside agile business strategies all come together to revolutionize operations.

The benefits of business transformation

The introduction of the cloud-based digital core at Athora Netherlands is already delivering measurable benefits. Chakrabarty notes that productivity is up by between 30–38%.

Dass says AI and machine learning will free up underwriters who are still doing some manual tasks as legacy systems are being phased out. In the coming months and years, Roussou sees his staff, “being more in a monitoring role and also being able to spend more time analyzing the numbers instead of production of the numbers.”

With the new systems being updated quarterly, Chakrabarty says efficiencies will continue to grow. “Once you start using the system for a couple of years, productivity will grow by more than 55% because the system is getting smarter and smarter and helping you work in a smarter ecosystem.”

Rising to the challenge of the pandemic

A remarkable feature of the transformation journey at Athora Netherlands is that much of it took place with the world in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic. In March 2020, the Netherlands went into lockdown and much of the world followed.

“We did everything in a complete remote fashion,” says Chakrabarty, “and still we ended up doing everything on time and on budget.” Reflecting on the huge efforts of all stakeholders to keep the project on track, he added: “Life is a journey with problems to solve, lessons to learn and experiences to cherish.”

Transforming legacy with technology

The partnership between TCS and Athora Netherlands has evolved significantly over the last three years. Operating in line with our shared values and beliefs, we have transformed legacy systems that were built for a business founded in a different age.

Athora Netherlands has a proud history as one of the founders of the modern European insurance industry. It now has a secure future too, built upon technology platforms that will autonomously learn and adapt as the needs of its customers and communities change

Hemakiran Gupta KURALLA (Kiran) is the Regional Head of TCS Business Unit responsible for Banking, Insurance and Financial Services for mainland Europe. Kiran has worked previously for the State Government in India and subsequently joined TCS in 1993. He went on to play several management roles in the company in India, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Benelux, and now across Europe

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