Tag Archives: insight

How to use legacy systems to drive innovation in insurance

I was on a webinar panel earlier today discussing legacy systems and their role in innovation in the insurance industry.

The premise was simple. Given the hype around digital you might be excused for thinking that you need to re-platform everything, rip out what you currently have – and start again – to remain relevant in the modern insurance market.

Especially given the threat from fleet-of-feet start-ups operating with a clean piece of paper and no legacy technology.

But it should not be forgotten that as a legacy organisation you have a number of things that start-ups would love to have. Including data and customers, and that is just for starters.

Here are some of my notes from the webinar. You can also watch the full feature length video with your family tonight. Continue reading How to use legacy systems to drive innovation in insurance

Digital Media in Scotland


I’ve just spent the last couple of days in Scotland to mark the opening of the new Endava office in Glasgow. We ran one event in Edinburgh (which mainly focussed on the Financial Services sector) and one in Glasgow, inviting local companies to hear about our view of the Digital Media industry, and the trends that we’re seeing.

The key topics were:

  • Social Media
  • Consumer Insight
  • Personalisation

Social Media

The key starting point with Social Media, is that even Financial Services organisations who don’t understand or want to acknowledge it exists, people are discussing your company, products or service, in one channel or another. Too many people associate social media with Facebook, then perform a search on Facebook and don’t find any results, and then dismiss it. However we recommend that you widen the search, even use Google, and you’ll find specialist forums and other places where you’re being discussed.

After listening, the next step is to formalise a strategy. In Financial Services, this needs to include regulation, governance, security and staffing. The technology (subtle plug – this is where Endava comes in) starts from the listening exercise, through to implementation and operations.

Another key point on social media is that it sets the expectation of the user interface. Look at Facebook, Google + and Pinterest to see how easy a user interface can be, and then look at other sites to see how they lag behind.

Financial Services companies are catching up – my bank’s website has recently been overhauled and most of my monthly tasks can now be done simply rather than the several steps it took a few weeks ago.

Consumer Insight

Sometimes referred to as ‘Big Data’, consumer insight is important at the moment because understanding the customer is vital to increase ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) and/ or profit.

I always give the analogy of the shopkeeper who knows his customers and can advise them on the most appropriate product based on their relationship and previous experiences. Consumer insight is the memory of the shopkeeper.


Firstly, you need some consumer insight to do some personalisation. The better quality insight, the better personalisation.

Amazon is still one of the best personalised websites – with recommendations based on not only what you’ve bought before, also what you’ve looked at, and how other customers have behaved too.

Personalisation can be applied to push communication too – email newsletters and text messages. However it’s vital to keep analysing, in detail, how these personalised messages are improving ROI (Return On Investment) and to keep tweaking them.


We’re seeing four key trends in Digital Media at the moment:

1.       Mobile, mobile, mobile. Despite the title, it’s not just mobile. It’s about the expectation that consumers can access your service wherever and whenever they wish. It doesn’t need to be via Internet Explorer version 8 on a desktop device bigger than 1028 pixels wide. I recently carried out some competitor analysis for a large bank and showed each of the rival’s services on a mobile device – they were unusable.

2.      Single platform – consumer insight and personalisation are linked. Push communication and Content Management Systems need to be linked. You’ll need analytics for all your channels. This all leads to a single platform requirement.

3.      Collaborate. We’re seeing multiple brands work together on joint initiatives because the sum of their efforts is so valuable. This requires some lateral thinking, strategic commercial awareness and clever marketing messaging.

4.      Consumer Insight. We’re seeing two trends linking distributed organisations together. One is social media and the other is consumer insight. The owner of the consumer insight strategy needs to communicate and work with the rest of the organisation. Every touch point with consumers needs to include data collection, and it takes mindset change to achieve this.


The two sessions were really interesting, and I always enjoy meeting companies and people who either haven’t thought about the discussion points, or who are on the path and share their experiences with others.

Retail and brand convergence


The line between brands and retailers is now greyer than ever. Fifteen years ago customer bought products almost exclusively through retailers. Then the Internet changed that model, and brands started going direct to customers. Facebook further changed the model, enabling customers to interact with brands even more easily.

Let’s take an example of airline tickets. Fifteen years ago everyone booked flights through a travel agent – basically a retailer. Nowadays most people book flights direct with the airline (the brand). On average, 200,000 people ‘Like’ Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, RyanAir and easyJet on Facebook.

We’re already seeing electronics manufacturers setting up their own High Street shops – Sony, Panasonic and Apple are good examples. Except for the last brand, I imagine most people who go into the shop are there to browse and try products, which then go on to purchase online.

One key advantage of brands, (or manufacturers – most of the time they are the same thing), going direct to the consumer and having an interaction with them, is that they can better understand the market, and improve their product or service. A lot has been made of consumer insight and its value to marketing department; however I think the value of consumer insight can and should be to the whole organisation.

The future will enable more customers to buy directly from brands up to a point – I can’t imagine a time where I’ll stop using a supermarket and start buying soup from Heinz, drinks directly from Coke, frozen vegetables from Birds Eye and crisps from Walkers.

Photo courtesy of Laurent Dechoux on Flickr

Away on Thursday and Friday


This Thursday and Friday I’m in Bucharest, the capital of Romania, with all the Account Managers and sales people from Endava for a Customer Facing Unit conference. We’ll discuss the latest trends and industry observations, best practices (internally & externally), all with the aim of collaboration between clients, and how to help them in their businesses.

It’s interesting that these conferences are almost always held in Eastern Europe. There are several reasons why – the cost including flights is the same as using a London hotel; getting out of the office usually helps creative thinking; and connecting our global offices where we do most of our ‘delivery’ can only be a good thing.

The key points for this conference from my point of view are as follows:

  • The future of System Integrators (aka “IT services” in 21st century language) are to add value. The future is to provide domain expertise and help propel our clients forward. Not just answering our clients’ current needs but helping them with their future roadmap.
  • Our clients need to collaborate with one another. They have something in common – Endava, and most can work in conjunction with each other rather than compete. This might be working practices. It might be efficiencies learned through one client and able to be transferred to another.
  • Working with product vendors more, mainly because product vendors [unsuccessfully] try to fit their products into an organisation (and often through the wrong route) rather than understanding a client’s requirements and then seeing if their product will help.


Superbrands on BBC


Last night on BBC3 (why BBC3??) was the first part of a three part documentary on Superbrands, and why they mean so much to us. Last night’s episode was on Technology, with next week investigating Fashion.

You can watch the Superbrands: Technology version here on iPlayer.

The series is well produced with a Louis Theroux style presenter, Alex Riley, who you can’t tell if he’s mocking his interviewee or being serious.

In case you don’t watch the episode, (and even if you do, I’m not giving too much away), the crux of the episode was “Why are Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Sony such powerful brands, and Nokia not so powerful? After all, Nokia is still the largest handset manufacturer in the World, and has more handsets out there.

One of the light hearted parts of last night’s programme is that various groups of people were asked to describe these brands as if they were a personality. These groups included primary school children and older children, to people in the street. Facebook was described as “your mate in the pub who knew everything about everyone and bought you a drink as you walked in, but you weren’t sure if your wallet was safe with them.” Microsoft was the “middle aged BMW driver” – not bad for the company who produce the hippest games console.

The programme’s conclusion was about Control:

  • Apple own the entire user journey from turning on your phone to the app, to the advertising on the app.
  • Apparently Sony lose around $200 per PS3 unit because they want to use the highest quality components including a Blu-Ray player which costs almost $100 per unit. Its a small price to pay when it provides a mass market desire to buy Blu-Ray discs, of which Sony has a revenue sharing model.
  • Microsoft was interesting because of its image as an Operating System vendor (yawn, and please look at the recent Windows 7 launch video) and a generally ‘boring’ application stack. Except for Xbox that is, which interestingly has no Microsoft branding near it.

Yet Nokia only own the handset. They are a hardware manufacturer. A non-exciting consumable manufacturer.

The programme was highly entertaining however I can’t say I learned anything new from it, except the Xbox-has-no-Microsoft-branding and the scientific (via MRI scan) similarity with brand loyalty and religion.

Thinking of other superbrands with similar levels of Control, Visa is another great example. It’s a Superbrand in the Control category because as soon as you pay for an item in a supermarket with your card, or online, you have regular reinforcement of the brand. The logo on your card, to Verified-by-Visa (I’m not saying V-B-V is a good thing) if you’re shopping online. And Visa has similar levels of Control of the successful technology superbrands because they understand spending data across retailers, which virtually no one else has. Actually, Akamai has probably more data about consumer behaviour, but is a B2B brand rather than a Superbrand.

I’m looking forward to next week with Superbrands: Fashion.

Re-educating clients on statistics


Ten years ago I remember sitting with our clients and trying to prise them away from hits to page impressions (which later became ‘page views’).

Now, we’re doing the same by moving from page impressions to insight.

Page impressions are great for advertising. Well actually they’re OK for advertising for two related reasons:

  1. As long as adverts are sold in per-thousand-impressions (CPM), advertisers will stick with page impressions
  2. Ad agencies have historically been very slow to adopt new business models and retrain their sales staff. See the slow adoption of CTR (Click Through Rates) as one of the most recent examples.

Insight is far more important as a measurement than page impressions. Consider what’s more important: gaining more information about a specific behaviour or preference about all your customers so that you can understand them better, or knowing that you have n million page impressions per month, and that traffic has changed by x% last month?

It’s a very interesting debate. I remember having heated discussions with customers ten years ago after they’d gone white after hearing that their traffic went from x million hits to y thousand page impressions per month. However once they had understood the new metrics, they found their rewards in the new CPM advertising business models of the day.

The new debate is a fundamental shift. We’re not talking units of measurement any more. The calculations for insight are more difficult to quantify. However the brands that adopt true consumer insight are going to be making profits in different orders of magnitude to the old models.

Personalised content getting confused

At Endava we strongly believe the future of consumer websites is what we call ‘B21‘ – a highly personalised web experience.

Our product stack and all web technologies are now based around the efficiency of getting data into our clients’ systems, analysing it and finding the ‘insight’, and serving relevant content.

When I logged into Tesco.com this evening, the personalised recommendations for the house were rather amusing – somewhat ‘religiously confused’ – wondering whether to wish us a Happy Passover or a Happy Easter!