Britam's Transformation: Empowering a Prominent Pan-African Insurer to Support Clients Throughout Life's Stages.

Britam embarked on a transformative journey with a footprint spanning seven countries by adopting Google Workspace. This strategic move aimed to cultivate enhanced collaboration, transcending geographical boundaries and product divisions, all in pursuit of delivering an effortlessly seamless experience to its valued clients.

  1. Elevated Client Responsiveness: We experienced a boost in client satisfaction as we now deliver a more reliable email service, ensuring quicker responses to customer queries.

  2. Fostered a Culture of Collaboration: Google Workspace helped cultivate an environment of collaboration that bridged the gap across countries and departments, promoting unity in our organization.

  3. Empower Agents, Anywhere: GWS has equipped our agents with unparalleled flexibility, enabling them to work from any location with mobile access to emails and essential files. This has supported the expansion of up to 40% more field agents. Our workforce unleashed.

Insurance goes beyond safeguarding against accidents; it can help people achieve important life goals, such as saving for a first car, investing in a child's education, or planning retirement. By offering services to cover clients' needs throughout their lives, insurance and financial products company Britam has become a leading financial services provider in Kenya and one of the main insurers in Eastern and Central Africa. With headquarters in Nairobi, the company is active in over seven African countries.

Michael Mwangi, CIO at Britam, emphasizes, "Britam takes immense pride in its dedication to innovation and exceptional customer service. We offer a diverse portfolio encompassing personal, business, and micro-insurance alongside wealth and asset management services. When a client reaches out, we want them to seamlessly access our entire suite of products, ensuring a smooth and hassle-free experience." With a dedicated team of 1,000 staff members across the organization and an additional 2,500 independent agents, Britam is well-equipped to serve its clientele effectively.

The year 2010 marked a pivotal moment as Britam embarked on a remarkable journey of regional expansion, venturing beyond Kenyan borders into Rwanda, Tanzania, Mozambique, Malawi, Uganda, and South Sudan. This expansion posed the need for centralized IT services to support the growing network. Britam also recognized the importance of equipping agents across diverse geographies with tools for productive remote work, a feat that was unattainable with their existing infrastructure. The solution to these challenges arrived in the form of Google Workspace.

Michael underscores the significance: "For our 2,500 agents, independence is crucial. We expect them to be in the field, closely engaging with clients. Therefore, remote access to emails and files is indispensable."

Expanding a business into new frontiers, especially through acquisitions, presents a unique set of challenges. Britam, in its earlier days, operated with a comparatively smaller workforce, grappling with unreliable email services that often resulted in downtime and lost emails. Michael reflects, "Back in 2011, we had roughly 300 employees and fewer than 1,000 tied agents. At times, due to the issues plaguing our on-premises servers, it would take several minutes, or even hours, for a critical email to be dispatched. Clients would reach out to us, seeking responses."

As Britam embarked on its ambitious expansion journey, it became evident that a transformation in IT infrastructure was imperative. This transformation is needed to accommodate rapid growth and empower agents to access emails seamlessly from anywhere. After meticulously evaluating various solutions, Britam chose Google Workspace, captivated by its maturity and the exceptional quality of local consultancy support available to guide them through the transition.

During the transitional phase, employees underwent comprehensive training to facilitate their transition to Gmail and explore the collaborative potential of tools such as Docs, Sheets, and Drive. Michael notes, "We anticipated this change would be substantial, but people were so exhausted with our previous solution that they embraced the shift wholeheartedly. The fact that most individuals already used Gmail for their personal email accounts was a significant advantage. "Previously, onboarding new employees would span several days, but now, we create an account, and the employee is up and running in no time", Michael noted.

The shift to Gmail has strengthened the reliability of Britam's email service and accelerated communication among employees. Michael elaborates, "People now employ Calendar invites to effortlessly schedule meetings, seamlessly transforming them into video calls with a single click using Google Meet. Google Chat has replaced traditional email and phone calls." This transition has cultivated a stronger sense of teamwork and unity, with individuals confident they can readily reach out to the right person when needed.

Previously, sharing files was cumbersome due to an unreliable local network, forcing employees to resort to external flash drives even within the same office. Michael recalls, "We even relied on hard drives for file transfers, not to mention the challenges of sending files to different countries." The advent of Google Drive, however, revolutionized collaboration. Although Google Workspace isn't Britam's primary document authoring tool, it integrates Google Drive extensively with Google Docs and Google Sheets within project teams, facilitating collaborative document work.

Google Workspace's impact extended beyond collaboration; it unexpectedly transformed communication within Britam's IT team. With many communication options at their disposal, Michael noticed that individuals who were less effective communicators over phone calls and in meetings thrived in chat-based interactions. These diverse communication channels within Google Workspace simplified people management and fostered improved team dynamics.

Michael concludes, "Our employees have intuitively embraced Google Drive for backups and on-the-go document access. Features like Backup and Sync have made it a seamless and instinctive choice."

In 2017, four years after the initial implementation, Britam enlisted the expertise of Google Premier Partner Incentro to enhance the integration of Google Workspace tools further. Dennis De Weerd, CEO at Incentro, reflects on the collaboration, saying, "At that juncture, as we were inaugurating our office in Kenya, we brought along 15 years of experience working with Google Cloud. We had the opportunity to demonstrate to Britam how they could leverage the full potential of Google Workspace, replacing third-party applications, streamlining infrastructure, and achieving notable cost reductions."

As the workforce increasingly gravitated toward mobile devices, Britam embraced endpoint management to safeguard data in the event of loss or theft. The implementation of Vault allowed Britam to conduct essential forensic investigations as needed. With the invaluable support of Incentro, Britam optimized its Gmail environment to a point where additional email security solutions were rendered unnecessary.

Elizabeth Akinyi, a consultant at Incentro, emphasizes their close collaboration with the Britam IT team, focusing on identifying areas where Google Workspace could enhance workflows, particularly with the introduction of new features. Elizabeth notes, "In our first year of partnership, we witnessed a 10% surge in adoption, and Britam achieved significant cost savings, slashing their reliance on third-party solutions by 10%."

The transition to Google Workspace has ushered in a new era for Britam, liberating its IT team to concentrate on core insurance applications rather than constantly addressing email-related issues. The shift from a capital-intensive model to operational expenses has streamlined resource planning for each agent, rendering it significantly more straightforward. Michael elucidates, "We can now tailor our expenditures to our precise needs, gaining enhanced visibility into our IT costs for our business teams. There's no longer a need to fret about additional hardware or licenses when we embark on expansion."

As agents embrace the flexibility to work beyond office confines, Britam has experienced remarkable growth, expanding its agent base by an impressive 30%–40% over the past five years, all without the necessity for additional physical office space. This transformation has empowered supervisors to exercise more effective oversight over agents' schedules, facilitated by the integration of Google Calendar.

Britam is actively exploring the prospect of expanding its utilization of Google Workspace by fully transitioning from its existing spreadsheet software to Google Sheets. Michael asserts, "We are confident that we can extract even greater value from Google Workspace, potentially yielding significant savings on licenses." The company is also gearing up to enhance its customer touchpoints by harnessing Google Cloud technology, including Dataflow as part of the Contact Center AI solution, to create chatbots and enhance engagement through digital channels.

As for the immediate future, Britam is gearing up for expansion into two additional countries while diversifying its portfolio within the property market. The scalability inherent in its Google Workspace infrastructure positions it perfectly to accomplish these objectives. Nevertheless, Britam's unwavering focus remains on its clients, ensuring swift responses and comprehensive support, in line with one of the key pillars of its strategy: delivering excellent service.

Michael concludes, "Our environment has now evolved into one that is more dependable, stable, and secure. Issues are resolved with greater speed, ensuring that no query ever goes unanswered, a testament to our commitment to providing excellent service."

Ready to experience the transformative power of streamlined operations and enhanced efficiency for your business, just like Britam did? Discover how Incentro can help reshape your path to success.

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