Rapid improvements in technology efficiency had driven faster than expected savings at Suncorp following the purchase of Promina last year, chief information officer Jeff Smith said. Mr Smith said the company's original target of $225 million savings after three years would now be achieved in just two.
In February Suncorp chief executive John Mulcahy revised his $225 million promise up to $325 million.
Mr Smith said the improved collaboration between the merged businesses had been a crucial factor, with a number of new initiatives deriving from the combination of expertise from the former rivals.
The infrastructure side of the Promina integration was more than halfway through and would be complete by the end of this year, well ahead of schedule.
Suncorp has upgraded all of its voice and data networks to internet protocol networks, which allowed for much greater use of videoconferencing.
Mr Smith said Suncorp's new bank broker's portal, which was launched a couple of months ago, derived largely from an insurance broker's portal developed by Promina for its New Zealand business, saving time and money in a plan to cherry pick the best aspects of each of the businesses.
"Not only did we leverage something from the former Promina business, but we also actually made it relevant to a completely different industry," Mr Smith said.
"We didn't have to buy any other infrastructure software; we just used the licences we had and handled the integration into the existing back-end banking system. If we were to have done that from scratch it would have taken at least four times as long and cost four times as much."
His aim was to ensure teams of workers could move rapidly between new systems.
More initiatives were planned for 2009, when Suncorp would focus on improving its claims platform and internet channels.
Mr Smith said he intended to introduce new claims systems for motor insurance, home insurance and workers compensation as well as rolling out up to 12 different online initiatives to its various market segments.
Online development provided a great example of the improved collaboration between the merged businesses.
"Twenty-seven per cent of our business in AAMI can be conducted online, which improves customer service and internal efficiency, however GIO is only at 2-3 per cent," Mr Smith said.
"We are now able to take the employees that achieved that in AAMI across to build the capability in what used to be their competitor.
"It works vice-versa in other areas, but shows we can now meld the assets of each side."
Mr Smith said Suncorp's plans to forge an aggressive growth strategy into Western Australia would not distract from the integration plans already under way.
The push will involve Suncorp, Australia's sixth-largest bank, opening 14 branches in the Perth metropolitan area within two years.
WA was likely to overtake NSW as Suncorp's biggest operation outside Queensland within three years.
"There will undoubtedly be some work for us to do," Mr Smith said.
"But from a technology perspective we will just deploy everything we have already done here.
"We will be focusing on hitting our delivery targets.
"The real savings and advances will not be in the banking technology but in personal and commercial insurance and wealth management.
"[That's] where we have to hit our online targets and develop straight through processing."
Fairfax Business Media
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