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IBM Australia is this month rolling out a new digital telephone
system for its super fund administration clients, including the Watson Wyatt
client funds which were transitioned from April last year. Watson Wyatt, which
last year switched administration outsource part­ners from the former
CitiStreet Austra­lia – subsequently bought by its former client Sunsuper – to
IBM, has taken an active role in the new arrangement. It was IBM’s second big
win of a group of corporate super fund clients, following a similar deal with
Rus­sell Investments when it entered the Australian market two years earlier.

Watson Wyatt accounts for 45 of the 70 IBM-administered funds, which in turn
account for about 300,000 members. Colette Colman, Watson Wyatt superannuation
administration services manager, said her firm has retained the client
servicing over the top of the IBM administration as well as technical
consulting expertise on regulatory and legislative changes to super.

IBM runs
the member call centre, but Colman, who visits the IBM offices two or three
times a week, said the operators are encouraged by Watson Wyatt to “escalate”
any member con­cerns with the service. She carries two business cards: one is
the super admin manager for Watson Wyatt and the other is “quality manager,
Asia-Pacific region”. Each Watson Wyatt client has a dedicated client service
manager for admin provided by IBM. Some are admin-only clients but most use
various other Watson Wyatt services, from hu­man resources to investment
consulting and actuarial advice.

Richard Morgan, IBM executive, managed
business process services, said the call centre was very busy for the first few
months after the start of the global financial crisis in late 2007. But the
concerned calls tapered off as the media reports of the general problems gained
recognition. Watson Wyatt encouraged its super fund clients to keep up the
communications with members as the crisis deepened and provided a script for
the IBM call centre operators to explain the nature of the crisis.

IBM
Australia has more than 1000 staff in its business process services divi­sion
and more than 85,000 worldwide. While relatively new to this industry in Australia,
Morgan said IBM “knows how to deliver processes in a repetitive and consistent
manner”, which is a good thing in the world of super administra­tion. Morgan
said that IBM’s vision for super admin is to be able to offer all members the
ability to do whatever transaction they want through what­ever channel they
want, be they phone, internet or letter. “Our philosophy is to have a flexible
and responsive high-quality service,” he said.

The phone upgrade to digital
should benefit both members and administrator. It will allow IBM to not only
record all contact, but to quickly translate that contact into accessible
information for all call centre operators about each member’s account. From a
technology point of view, IBM’s first move with the Watson Wyatt funds was to
provide a new web browser interface or portal which allows operators to conduct
most transactions from one computer screen. Previously, they may have had to
navigate up to nine screens for a transaction.

The underlying system for most
Watson Wyatt clients is the former proprietorial WyBen system, which was taken
over by IBM. The other underly­ing system, which clients such as Av­Super
migrated directly to, is Bravura’s ‘Superb’. “We built our portal so that it
was independent of any single system,” Morgan said. “We gain extra efficiencies
by being able to wrap our portal around any system.”

IBM is also introducing a
‘second-generation’ imaging system which caters for re-engineered forms such
that hand-written information can be read digitally, not just through taking
photocopies of the information. Colman said that IBM was also able to put in
place fairly quickly the processes so that Watson Wyatt admin clients could
adhere to the international standard – ISO 9001:2000 – which is a global
standard that the consulting firm has implemented through its other practices
of benefits and processing around the world.

 

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