PPS embraces digital transformation

The legacy insurance company undergoes a cloud revolution in nine months.


Johannesburg, 08 Apr 2019
Read time 2min 50sec
Avsharn Bachoo, CTO at PPS.
Avsharn Bachoo, CTO at PPS.

Rebuilding the legacy enterprise platform of a decades-old insurance company and moving it to the cloud is no small undertaking. From scale to complexity parameters, this kind of migration would usually take two to three years, but when the Professional Provident Society (PPS) managed to pull it off in under nine months, it was justly proud. Amid a global paradigm shift in technology, PPS is showing South African businesses how to break out of legacy mindsets, accept change and embrace cloud innovation.

"The journey brought its challenges, of course, but we had a newfound ability to be nimble, agile and responsive to our customers' needs. Moreover, we are now punching well above our weight in a ring with our competitors, commanding much larger IT budgets," says Avsharn Bachoo, CTO at PPS. "We have achieved this with the support of Google and Siatik, Google's premier cloud partner in Africa."

"South African businesses still tend to see IT infrastructure as a traditional capital expenditure rather than a pay-for-use model," says Brett St Clair, CEO at Siatik. "Many CTOs still purchase hardware and software intending to use it for the next five years. This perspective is outdated; storing and processing data has become extremely cheap, so the global focus has changed to how you can harness the power of your data to gain powerful analytic insights into your operations."

Shai Morgan, Head of Google Cloud for sub-Saharan Africa, adds his support: "It's encouraging to see a traditional insurance company like PPS digitally transform their business with Google Cloud. They are pushing ahead of the technology curve, both strategically and operationally, in a highly regulated industry."

At the outset, PPS ran benchmark tests between various hyperscalers, which assessed computing (processing power), storage and databases. It soon became clear that Google was leading with excellent results across price, performance and speed to market. In fact, Google ran 70% faster than "on-premises", using fewer cores and less RAM. Google also supported a multitude of open source applications, which is in line with PPS's strategy of open source technologies.

The next step was to get the various teams at PPS on board. "Working in the cloud is often more about culture change than technology," says Bachoo. "Our goal was to become a fintech business with a fintech attitude, so we needed to help our employees to understand that building for digital goes beyond simply migrating to the cloud. To achieve this, the underlying tech infrastructure, processes and internal culture all had to change."

Using a combination of SaaS (software as a service), PaaS (platform as a service), and IaaS (infrastructure as a service), PPS can now "snap" in and out as new technologies become available, and can always be ahead of the technology curve, strategically as well as operationally.

"We have more stability, scalability on demand, improved project ROI, and good elasticity," continues Bachoo. "We have also built new products to boost our business revenues, including the use of Tensorflow Neural Networks to build out propensity models to up-sell, cross-sell and even down-sell."

PPS

Founded in 1941, PPS is the largest mutual financial services company in South Africa. The 78-year-old insurance business migrated its enterprise platform to Google Cloud in under nine months, completely transforming the company while continuing to be an innovative leading South African insurance brand. PPS has more than 200 000 members who enjoy access to a comprehensive suite of financial and healthcare products that are tailored to meet the needs of graduate professionals. PPS is the largest South African company of its kind that still embraces an ethos of mutuality, which means it exists solely for the benefit of its members. Thus, PPS members with qualifying products share in the profits of PPS Insurance via annual allocations.

Siatik

Siatik is a migration specialist and Google Cloud Premier Partner. It focuses on migrating enterprises to Google Cloud, and it is a specialist in Google Cloud's Machine Learning Engine and Google Cloud's Big Data Analytics solutions and products. It prides itself on its exponential thinking, its ability to make ideas a reality, and on successfully realising its customers' vision to digitally transform. Siatik is an expert at helping businesses find customers cheaper and faster than competitors, finding hyper efficiencies in their operations, and retaining customer by building trusted algorithms. Its customers span both the public and private sectors, and its engineers are regularly engaged in the media, retail, financial and technology sectors.

Editorial contacts
PPS for Professionals Julie Taylor (076) 294 5332 julie@gunsandrain.com