Sun Life Financial
Contact person: J.R Gabriel
Email address: [email protected]
Contact number: +1 (416) 809-0826
The Digital Insurer Insurance Innovation Award
The Sun Life Financial Digital Transformation Journey:
Sun Life Financial has enjoyed a long and storied history built on a number of insurance industry firsts: it was the first provider in the world to offer an unconditional life insurance policy; it was also the first provider to offer group life insurance to Canadian clients; and, Sun Life’s subsidiary MFS is credited with first pioneering the mutual fund. These achievements notwithstanding, Sun Life’s success has always relied on being forward-looking, remaining at the forefront of product development and embracing new and emerging digital technologies.
As part of this appetite for advancement, Sun Life has made accelerating its own digital transformation journey a companywide priority and, to date, has met some major milestones. Of note, Sun Life recently unveiled its first innovation lab, The Ignite Studio, with the aim to ideate and build new digital innovations for clients, improve project agility and host thought-leadership and design-focused discussions. Sun Life also built the #1 client-rated mobile app (in both the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store) among Canadian financial institutions, my Sun Life Mobile, which enables clients to submit claims, check their coverage, view their investments and even connect with Sun Life advisors directly. Most notably, in early 2016, Sun Life assembled a dedicated team with the mandate to help Canadians access the latest digital innovations to improve their health and well-being. The Sun Life Digital Health Services (DHS) team, which has since actively partnered with promising start-ups and health care innovators, has been keenly focused on fast-tracking the development of digital tools that enable Canadians to make better choices for their well-being and improve access to health care resources.
Emerging from Sun Life’s internal R&D efforts, in September of 2017 the company announced Ella, a first-of-its-kind interactive digital coach. Leveraging artificial intelligence and context-based analytics, Ella proactively helps Sun Life clients take action by providing information and personalized reminders - either through the Sun Life website, email or through a unique integration with Google Home - to help them manage their benefits and insurance plans more effectively.
The impetus behind developing Ella was to allow Sun Life to become more proactive in engaging with clients, to improve their awareness of what’s available to them and, in a sense, nudge them to act in the best interest of their own well-being - generating positive health and financial outcomes for them and their families. An extension of Sun Life's Digital Benefits Assistant - a client engagement platform that uses next-best action machine learning and big-data analytics to present an array of helpful ideas to clients at key life moments - Ella has become a point of contact that can help remind clients when they have an expiring health care spending account balance or that the deadline day for RRSP contributions is approaching.
This year, Sun Life further expanded Ella’s capabilities by integrating a one-of-a-kind search function that allows clients to tap into a pool of over 4-million user-submitted ratings for approximately 119,000 Canadian health care service providers. The enhancement allows clients to ask Ella where the highest-rated optometrist or dentist is nearby and access a list of best-fit suggestions. Once the user selects their health care provider, they’re sent a text message containing the provider’s name, location and contact information to schedule an appointment.
Results and what’s next:
Although it is still early in the evaluation process, Sun Life has already seen dramatic changes in the way clients are engaging with Ella. Within the first 6-months, client-engagement rates increased by over 50 per cent with marked increases among clients aged 53 and older, a particularly difficult demographic to reach. Another major milestone was also recently surpassed as client impressions with Ella hit 1.6-million, far exceeding initial expectations for the tool.
Given the immense potential that accompanies advancements in artificial intelligence and analytics, Ella’s future is incredibly bright. Sun Life is already exploring new and exciting capabilities for Ella including expanding the service to its other businesses internationally, extending the provider search function to include its retirement savings portfolio, and rolling-out more natural language processing and two-way conversation capabilities.
With big things to come on the horizon, it is a very exciting time at Sun Life. We are transforming our business using new digital tools and data analytics to put our clients at the centre of everything we do.