Suncorp Group rejigs operating model to fast-track digital and data transformation

The company has introduced a technology and transformation function to drive its digital-first agenda.

Suncorp Group has created a new function within its business that will be devoted to fast-tracking the company's digital and data-driven transformation.

The new function -- technology and transformation – will be led by Suncorp's recently appointed CIO Adam Bennett, who joins the group from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. Within this function, Bennett will be responsible for driving the group's technology infrastructure and delivery, digital platforms, data, automation agenda, and the group's overall digital-first approach.

The creation of the new business function is part of wider changes Suncorp is making to its operating model in a bid to improve its core insurance and banking businesses.

According to the company, this change in the operating model will enable the company to take advantage of digital and automation capabilities and opportunities a lot faster.

"The change to our model represents more than just a change to the structure. However, this is a critical first step, which will be combined with clearer accountability at all levels of the organisation and an across-the-board shift to more agile ways of working … This essentially combines a layer of the organisation which will improve decision making, reduce duplication, and establish greater efficiency," Suncorp Group CEO Steven Johnston said on Wednesday.

Johnston added the natural disasters during summer and the impacts from the coronavirus pandemic justified the need to speed up the business' digital transformation.

"The work we have done over the past 12 months puts us in a strong position to deal with the dual challenges of increasing natural hazard costs and a global pandemic. We entered COVID-19 with a significantly de-risked business and a strong balance sheet and through this period further strengthened our funding, liquidity, and capital buffers," he said.

"At the same time, COVID-19 has resulted in changes such as the faster adoption of digital channels by customers and new, more innovative and agile internal ways of working. It has changed our perspective on what is possible."

The changes will also see Suncorp fold its current customer and digital function. Instead, these functions will be reallocated between the company's insurance business as well as its banking and wealth business.

The bank also announced that within its insurance business, current chief customer and digital officer Lisa Harrison would be appointed to a new CEO of insurance product and portfolio role. In this capacity, she will be responsible for leading the insurance distribution channels, including contact centres, digital channels, and innovation.

Meanwhile, its banking and wealth business will be responsible for all banking and wealth operations, customer strategy, finance, marketing, and digital distribution, with Suncorp noting that "several functions" would move from centralised teams. 

"The changes are aimed at improving the competitiveness of the bank through faster decision making, greater digital capability and the ability to address the direct expense base. Where it makes sense, functions (such as IT infrastructure) will remain at group level," the bank said.

The new structure will be effective from 20 July 2020. 

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