Liberty is a well-known South African brand with a growing presence across Africa. For nearly 60 years, Liberty has created value for investors by meeting customers’ financial needs through developing and delivering appropriate insurance and investment products and services.
Liberty offers an extensive, market-leading range of products and services to help customers build and protect their wealth and lifestyle. These include life, short-term and health related insurance, investment management and financial support for retirement. Liberty is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and is part of the Standard Bank group, which owns 53,6% of the issued ordinary share capital.
Traditionally, the Liberty end-user operating system roadmap has been focused on supporting one version less than what is currently available.
The reasons for this include the fact that an operating system update require strong people change management and ensuring the compatibility of applications. Often, this would result in a lengthy implementation timeline of anything from 12 to 18 months.
With the release to market of Windows 10, Liberty anticipated a growing trend of adoption by its external customers. This was due to Microsoft offering a free upgrade in the first year of the software becoming available. Liberty therefore had to expedite the process of checking the compatibility of its solutions on the Windows 10 operating environment.
Liberty was further challenged by the fact that its independent sales force was buying new PCs and laptops which came pre-loaded with Windows 10. To use the Liberty sales tools, they were forced to downgrade to Windows 7 which incurred additional licensing costs, something they were obviously not keen on doing.
Some considerations to be included in the process was that Liberty would save significantly on licensing costs if its computers were upgraded prior to the deadline. Windows 10 would also serve as one of the enablers that supports the digital transformation journey at Liberty.
“Windows 10 presented an opportunity to showcase that as a Liberty brand we are keeping abreast of technology by supporting the latest operating system,” says Manager Sebastian, Head of End User Support, Liberty.
As it had an existing service agreement in place for its end-user support, Liberty engaged with Microsoft on the technical and licensing aspects of the migration. Microsoft also assisted Liberty with the people aspect of the change management process by conducting multiple training sessions.
The Windows 10 migration involved upgrading six thousand PCs which included Liberty staff and affiliate machines within a three-month deadline nationally. In addition, all Liberty external facing applications had to be compatible with Windows 10.
“The implementation spoke to upgrading computer equipment at a group level. Liberty affiliates were invited to be part of the journey. The phased approach was to manage the rollout per business unit so that we could focus on unpacking requirements, implementation, and post support at a single location,” says Sebastian.
She says that Liberty was cognisant of the people change impact across the group, coupled with the limited time to get the message out.
The two critical success factors in managing this were onboarding the stakeholders in the service chain – such as the executives, operations, application teams, and the supplier. Secondly, communication and marketing were essential ingredients. As such, Liberty used all available channels to communicate the migration.
While there were concerns around data and application configuration retention, the technical process catered for several permutations. The in-place upgrade minimised IT costs and downtime to users by the retention of data and majority of the application configuration.
Within a period of three months, Liberty upgraded more than six thousand PCs and resolved compatibility issues for its external-facing applications.
“Given the scope of the project, strong collaboration between multiple teams and unrelenting, focused commitment were the underpinning success factors that contributed to this achievement,” says Sebastian.
She adds that making the project even more remarkable was that no data was lost in the migration.
“We set the platform for digital transformation. An example of this is the support of multiple devices like Windows phones and tablets while still retaining a familiar yet improved user experience. The security features in Windows 10 around protecting user information has also been very beneficial for Liberty.”
Feedback from users indicate the overall performance experience is an improvement compared to Windows 7 resulting in improved productivity. Furthermore, the improved power management features provide for extended battery life on devices further enhancing the efficiency of staff.