Platform connecting 4K systems
Less time needed for app development
Cost reduction in new app development
From on-premises groupware to cloud platform
Dai-ichi Life Insurance Company, Limited (Dai-ichi Life) was established in 1902 as the first mutual corporation in Japan’s insurance sector. Through a core ‘Customer First’ business philosophy, the company focuses on insurance products that meet shifting customer needs while contributing to local communities. In 2022, the company will celebrate 120 years of continued growth as a forerunner in the domestic life insurance industry in Japan.
Improving the quality of life for customers and employees is Dai-ichi Life’s mission. The company proactively embraces digital transformation to broaden its service portfolio and to revolutionize work practices.
In response to changes in the business environment, Dai-ichi Life has transformed its IT operations, switching from on-premises groupware to an integrated cloud-based platform and promoting the Dai-ichi NewNormal OneStepAhead WorkStyle (DNOW) initiative among employees.
“We are creating a new ‘worldview’ in which products and services can be provided in a timely manner in response to customer needs. We aim to achieve this through increased employee productivity by establishing an environment where all company data can be accessed any time via computer or smartphone,” says Eita Yoshidome, Line Manager, IT Operations Management Department of IT Business Process Planning Division, which is overseeing the DNOW project at Dai-ichi Life.
The optimal solution to achieve this new ‘worldview’ is ServiceNow’s cloud-based platform, ServiceNow® App Engine, which is at the core of the DNOW project. Migrating the groupware used by Dai-ichi Life employees in their daily operations to App Engine, the company aims for a paradigm shift in digital employee workflows.
Centralized systems and database management
Dai-ichi Life previously used on-premises groupware that supported various databases including mainframe data and processes for customers and contracts. Successive EUC systems (end user computing systems other than core business systems) were piled onto this infrastructure to manage, browse, and process information. More and more EUC systems were added over the years. The company currently uses approximately 4,000 systems and almost 50,000 databases.
“Individual systems and databases were not well connected, preventing adequate cross-functional process management and data utilization. Moreover, with 4,000 systems, simply searching of information was a headache,” says Kazutaka Chiba, Cloud Service Solutions Group Leader, Cloud Service Promotions Department, of Dai-ichi Life Information System (DLS), which handles system development, operation, and maintenance for Dai-ichi Life.
Motoki Miyazaki, Assistant Manager in Dai-ichi Life’s IT Operations Management Division, elaborates, "We had to open up a window for each new piece of information or each new system, which was highly inefficient.”
Conventional groupware was the optimal solution in some cases, where a business portal screen or ‘to do’ list had to be prepared for each business transaction. “The aim of creating a new structure where all information can be accessed in a single window or portal was a major driver behind the DNOW Project. Instead of the user searching for information, the system proactively provides data stored in a central database to the user, so that a single interface displays everything that needs to be done,” says Miyazaki.
Increasing employee productivity
The company already provides tools for remote working to employees on request, but the national WorkStyle Reform prompted Dai-ichi Life to facilitate a company-wide hybrid working model by issuing laptops and smartphones to almost every employee between 2018 and 2020. However, incompatibility of existing groupware defeated the purpose of distributing smartphones. Any new collaborative software needed to work on both smartphones and laptops.
One reason App Engine was selected as the foundation for Dai-ichi Life’s groupware was that it satisfied this criteria.
The key feature of App Engine is centralizing existing systems and databases to enable end-to-end business processing among multiple teams and departments based on data shared across the entire company. This feature greatly simplifies data access and processing by connecting all systems company-wide, including core systems and databases built on existing groupware.
Line Manager, IT Operations Management Department, IT Business Process Planning Division
Easy development of new applications
Chiba reflects,“ The first challenge was to address the fact that the architecture and application development approach differed for each piece of groupware we were using.” In April 2020, right before the platform development was to start, the schedule was delayed by a month due to the first state of emergency declared by the government in response to COVID-19. "By a twist of fortune, this provided a valuable learning period. ServiceNow’s unwavering support really deepened my understanding of the platform,” says Chiba.
The first year of the DNOW Project, 2020, saw the completion of the groupware portal—the gateway to the DNOW platform and to all systems. In the second year, the focus shifted to unifying all systems and databases so that all data can be accessed through the portal.
However, the company now needs to rebuild the business applications developed on the former groupware to run on App Engine. Incorporating some 4,000 systems, this task could take many years. Fortunately, the platform’s no-code/low-code App Engine is designed to minimize system development time. Time taken for development has been halved and costs reduced to one-third of what it would have been with conventional development.
Dai-ichi Life anticipates that App Engine will boost productivity by enabling simple system development by users. “Users can also customize existing apps to suit their needs. For example, a user can specify data display prioritization to list only required items. We want staff to use the new system freely to suit their own jobs and tasks,” says Miyazaki.
Achieving better customer service
The systems developed with App Engine have already received a positive response from employees. Branch Bulletin, an online educational portal used for lifetime plan designers (sales roles) during team meetings, is one example.
“The DNOW project was officially launched in April 2020, but this was immediately followed by a state of emergency that forced the national workforce to work from home. We had to rush to develop a system that allows sales staff to view training materials at home,” recalls Miyazaki.
This system proved extremely popular, and the Branch Bulletin became the primary medium for dissemination of educational materials and information to lifetime plan designers.
Yoshidome adds, “ServiceNow’s biggest advantage is that App Engine enables mutual participation in system development and boosts business growth. I had some initial concerns, but once I used it I realized just how simple creating a system could be. Actual system development required only two weeks, from preliminary investigations to release. While the migration is in progress, we would like to encourage greater utilization of it going forward. The project currently emphasizes the WorkStyle Reform and increases productivity. I hope both of these would lead to improved customer service.”
The possibilities of the DNOW Project are limitless.
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