Jackson National Life Insurance Company had scores of applications needing updates. Plus, it wanted to accelerate digitalization and improve application development and quality assurance.
The company migrated over 40 critical applications to modern code platforms, enhancing the user experience while reducing overall maintenance costs and creating a standard model for modernizing other applications.
“We started our digital journey with NTT DATA about five years ago, and they have been a tremendous partner with us….We trust NTT DATA because of their global outreach, thought leadership, as well as their expertise in diverse industries. That blend has been very valuable for our success.”
As Baby Boomers retire, many seek guaranteed, supplemental income. For this, they often turn to annuities, both fixed and variable, from providers such as the Jackson National Life Insurance Company. The firm has consistently earned top industry ratings and has more than four million annuity policies and contracts in force, selling its annuities through an enormous indirect sales force of 140,000-plus advisors.
To support this large and vital indirect channel, the company’s 4,000 associates rely on more than 400 applications. According to Muhammad Shami, vice president of Jackson Enterprise Technology, the company’s IT and application development organization, many of the most mission-critical applications (especially financial accounting ones) had grown outdated.
“Forty-one of these applications were more than a decade old, many written in once-popular code that’s no longer supported,” Shami says. “The knowledge that was used to create these applications either doesn’t exist or is quite limited, and proper documentation wasn’t available. So, given all that, the risk of continuing to use them was growing. We knew it was time to modernize them.”
Jeff Crawford, Jackson Enterprise Technologies assistant vice president, describes that risk as especially concerning due to the widespread use of these applications across the company. “These apps mostly supported how we handle financial processing internally,” he says.
“So when customers purchase annuities, these are the tools our finance, accounting and operations teams use every day to keep everything updated,” Crawford adds. “Our outdated digital stack was undermining our users’ performance as well as our organizational efficiency, productivity and responsiveness. Ultimately, our competitive edge was at stake.”
For help, the company turned to NTT DATA for Application Services support. “We started our digital journey with NTT DATA about five years ago, and they have been a tremendous partner with us,” Shami says. “Our aim has been to provide our customers and advisors the information they need about our products on the channel they need, when they need it and how often they need it.”
For example, a key marketing tool for the company is its web-based Financial Freedom Studio™. This application provides customers and advisors with financial and retirement-planning insights to help explain how annuities work and how they can provide a financial support for family members needing it. “The more advanced our technology stacks behind the critical customer and advisor interfaces, the better the user experiences will be,” Shami says.
With NTT DATA providing the expertise and global resources to modernize its applications, the company could focus its IT and development resources on other strategic initiatives. “We needed our own expertise and capacity directed toward those efforts, while NTT DATA stepped in to update our digital stack,” says Crawford. “Their collaboration with us was outstanding, both their on-site consultants as well as their offshore staff doing the coding. The latter helped keep projects moving around the clock.”
Today, the updated applications lower maintenance costs while enabling users to be more efficient, productive and responsive. As Crawford puts it, “I don't want someone to have to fumble around with calling the help desk or waiting on a function because it's slow or something. I want technology to be very seamless and not get in the way of someone doing their job. The better that we can do that from a technology organization perspective, the more successful and competitive our organization can be.”
In addition to the Application Modernization services, NTT DATA helped the company put standards and an architecture in place to accelerate its digital journey. “These reduce friction for the workforce and enable our IT and business lines to focus more on the future, especially developing new products and channels to market them,” Crawford says.
NTT DATA also provided critical support for the company’s quality assurance transformation with Quality Assurance and Testing. “Jackson has been using a waterfall development model for a long time,” Shami says. “But given the rapid changes in our business environment and needs, we have to be going toward an agile framework, so we can do quality assurance in parallel. NTT DATA has been extremely helpful and a significant part of our journey.”
Shami highly recommends NTT DATA. “We trust NTT DATA because of their global outreach, thought leadership, as well as their expertise in diverse industries. That blend has been very valuable for our success,” he says.