South Africa's Sanlam Indie leverages cloud to make life insurance easy

South Africa's Sanlam Indie's use of cloud, including PaaS and Saas applications, allows it to quickly ramp up and test new services, and focus on core competencies, according to technology lead Giulio di Giannatale.

giulio di giannatale
Giulio di Giannatale

The pandemic was expected to hit the insurance industry especially hard, but insurers that that were already using cloud and emerging technologies to meet modern customer expectations were able to adapt and weather the COVID-19 storm.

Sanlam, a South African financial services group, sold more insurance products in the first four months of 2021 than it did during the same period in 2019, even though McKinsey & Company forecast that the coronavirus pandemic would hit the insurance industry twice as hard as the 2008 financial crisis.

Describing the cause of the slump as “a perfect storm of poor market returns, reduced customer demand, declining disposable income and distribution disruption”, the December 2020 research report from McKinsey stated that the sector would take twice as long to bounce back as it did during the 2008/2009 recession.

In the face of these dire predictions, the Sanlam group’s success can, in part, be attributed to the work of their younger business units, which predominantly sell online. Sanlam Indie, one of these businesses, raised sales by 68% from January to April 2021.

In this Q&A, Giulio di Giannatale, technology lead at Sanlam Indie, discusses how emerging technologies, like cloud — particularly SaaS and PaaS — have enabled them to move with the speed of the Internet and do financial services differently.

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