Technology Record - Issue 22: Autumn 2021

130 www. t e c h n o l o g y r e c o r d . c om P ROF I L ED : SOUTHE RN FARM BUR E AU L I F E I NS URANC E A ccording to research from the Centre for Better Ageing, as of 2020 a third of all workers were aged 50 or older Life insurance and financial planning business Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance (SFBLI) was one of the many organisations that had been affected by an ageing workforce. Many of its experienced mainframe application developers and systems programmers were nearing retire- ment, creating a knowledge gap in relation to mainframe operations. SFBLI’s policy admin system – called Ingenium – is its main platform for selling and servicing its insurance products. It had been running on the firm’s IBM mainframe for over 20 years. However, as SFBLI’s mainframe-savvy employees were retiring, it was struggling to recruit college graduates with knowledge of the technology. SFBLI’s chief technology officer Charlie Allen knew that the business needed to modernise its mainframe operations for a younger demo- graphic of employees and customers, while it still had the experienced workforce to pull it off. “Typically, life insurance companies are slow to embrace change and innovation,” he said. “Many times, that is caused by regulatory concerns but innovation is becoming very important for our customers and we felt like the mainframe was going to be an impediment to innovation. “As our customers get younger, they want to be able to do things themselves without the need to talk with a person. We want to be able to move in that direction much faster, while still providing customers with the human touch when appropriate.” After receiving an external audit which sug- gested that the business double the size of its development team – an option that was not viable – SFBLI began working with Asysco, a firm that specialises in modernising legacy IT infrastructure. “I was looking for a company that would be a partner and have as much interest in the project being successful as we were,” said Allen. “I wanted a partner that understood what we were trying to accomplish and could see the project through to a successful conclusion. I felt like Asysco was the right size company to help with this – not too big, but just big enough. It had an excellent track record on previous engagements too.” Allen chose Asysco for the project because of the speed and low cost of its proposal. The aim was for Asysco to deliver manageable, working code that would perform as well or better on Windows as it had on the mainframe. Successful completion of this goal would allow SFBLI to shut down the mainframe, replacing it with more modern solutions. “We have to move faster and give the cus- tomer what they want, when they want it,” said Allen. “We need to improve the customer expe- rience. Not doing so risks losing customers to the competition.” The migration of the IBM mainframe to Windows began in November 2018 and was suc- cessfully completed in November 2020. Asysco helped Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance migrate to Windows, combatting the challenge of mainframe skills loss and enabling them to provide services suited to modern customers Migration for modernisation “I can’t say enough about the support that Asysco gave us remotely. It was amazing!” CHAR L I E A L L EN , S F B L I