In today’s hypercompetitive business environment, information technology (IT) can provide organisations with a true competitive advantage. As a result, the decisions an organisation makes about its storage environment can mean the difference between winning and losing.
The Suncorp Group, a provider of diversified financial services and one of Australia’s largest companies at over $15-billion in annual revenue, recently looked to its storage environment to serve as the catalyst to help it foster a culture of innovation, scale at the speed of thought, and create a future with infinite possibilities. And Suncorp did it all built on NetApp.
After a string of more than 50 business acquisitions and a major merger, Suncorp became a 16,000 employee company with five different divisions, countless unique brands and an IT infrastructure that was complex and provided a barrier to growth.
Realising the only way to move forward was to dramatically improve the way it did business, and unlock the untapped human capital that lay within, Suncorp made a strategic bet on storage to ignite its transformation.
“We looked to NetApp not only as a technology partner to help us achieve greater business flexibility and efficiency, but to help us materially change the way we do work,” says Jeff Smith, CEO of Suncorp Business Services.
“We have a strong belief that the companies we partner with are companies that we aspire to be like. From the start NetApp has been built on innovation and has always believed in pushing the boundaries of what’s possible, with a single goal in mind: customer success. That is where we wanted to be.”
Working side by side with NetApp, Suncorp transformed its business by migrating 80% of its entire IT environment onto a shared infrastructure, creating a large virtualised private cloud.
Coupled with new agile methodologies and processes, this shared infrastructure provided the foundation that has delivered significant effects on the efficiency, flexibility, velocity and success of Suncorp’s business, while eliciting an entire culture of innovation that is changing the pace of business.
Fostering a culture of innovation
Collaborating with NetApp enabled Suncorp to remove the technology barriers that were previously in place, allowing it to tap the minds of its innovative workforce for new and fresh ideas. A prime example is Suncorp’s mobile banking platform, which was developed by a young graduate and launched in just a few short weeks at a significantly reduced cost.
The new application drove $250-million in revenue in the first few months it was live.
Through increased IT efficiency, Suncorp’s business has been able to deliver more impact in less time. For example, Suncorp completely revamped its online banking platform in a fraction of the time and for significantly less than the industry average of $150- to $300-million. During this time it has grown 20% per year.
Thanks to product innovation in the Internet and mobile channels developed on its shared infrastructure, Suncorp has been able to increase the level of insurance business done online from 10% to 40%.
Scaling at the speed of thought
Suncorp consolidated from seven data centres into two, reduced the number of servers from 4,000 down to 300, and moved from a storage environment that contained thousands of disparate storage systems down to a single virtualised, shared infrastructure, enabling Suncorp to more easily and quickly scale its business.
As part of this shared infrastructure, NetApp worked closely with Cisco and VMware to provide Suncorp with a highly flexible Secure Multi-tenancy infrastructure that allows the different business units within Suncorp to share the same IT infrastructure, while the information remains isolated and secure.
With this IT transformation, Suncorp is now more dynamic and efficient, enabling it to rapidly take advantage of new business opportunities and respond faster and more consistently to market demands.
Creating a future with infinite possibilities
Thanks to its smaller data centre footprint, Suncorp has realised significant savings on space, power consumption and cooling costs.
Combined with IT efficiencies in other areas that free up time and resources to focus on what the business needs next, overall IT costs have been reduced by 30%, providing Suncorp with the added flexibility to fund development projects and deliver three times as many business capabilities as before.
The added efficiency and flexibility have also enabled Suncorp to gain a single, centralised view of its 9-million customers, 16,000 employees, all financials, and, ultimately, insurance pricing and claims, leading to improved margins and an enhanced customer experience.
“When we took a critical look at our business and what we needed to do in order to be successful and grow, we realised that IT was the launching point to make that happen. The speed and agility that NetApp enables have been critical to our success, allowing us to drive innovation and completely reset expectations of what is possible," says Smith.
"What once was an innovation team of nine people suddenly became an innovation team of 16,000. Building a culture of innovation and developing the confidence that every problem is solvable have become our real competitive advantages.”
“Suncorp’s story is the perfect example of what drives us here at NetApp, and that is the opportunity to collaborate with each and every customer with one goal in mind: to help them succeed," says Manish Goel, executive vice president of Product Operations, NetApp.
"By building on NetApp, Suncorp was able to move to a shared infrastructure that transformed the way it did business and created a wave of innovation within the company. Suncorp is proof that the storage environment an organisation builds on is foundational to its abiity to break the mold and forge ahead.”