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Microsoft 365

Assurant: transforming a risk management solutions business with Office 365

Today’s post about Office 365 was written by Robert Lewis, chief information officer at Assurant.

Assurant pro pixFrom the outset, Assurant—a global provider of specialty risk management solutions—looked at Microsoft cloud technologies not so much as an IT upgrade, but as an integral component of a business transformation. We needed cloud-based business tools for employees across the United States and our international offices. With a new focus on our core competencies and drive for profitable growth in the housing and lifestyle markets, it was also important that we streamline how we work with customers.

This digital transformation of our workplace is how we meet the real-time service demands of customers for insurance and risk management products and services, where all-day, everyday service through online markets is becoming the new normal. With Office 365, plus mobility solutions like Microsoft Intune, we have the tools required to deliver a competitive level of service in the digital age, while providing comprehensive protection for apps and devices and maintaining the regulatory compliance that is imperative in our industry.

We looked at other cloud-based solutions, but our employees wanted business tools they knew and were comfortable with. We use Office 365 to provide the connected and mobile workplace that employees expect today. The company also wanted an easy transition from our Lotus Notes environment. What was really refreshing and exciting to us about the offering from Microsoft was how seamlessly the Office 365 experience works across smartphones, tablets, laptops and PCs for a complete, collaborative experience, no matter what devices our employees use.

We use the tagline “Your Power to Connect” for our Office 365 deployment. That’s because improved collaboration is empowering. It affects all areas of the business, driving productivity and innovation. Our field staffers assessing property claims upload photos to team sites on our new intranet, which is based on Microsoft SharePoint Online. They also share video footage of property damage on Skype for Business Online. Now our claims personnel in the office can process claims more efficiently. Assurant sales team members use Office 365 to work more productively outside the office, where they spend most of their time. They attend regional sales meetings from home or while traveling, using their smartphones or laptops.

We are generating innovative ideas with global product teams using Skype for Business Online meetings. Brainstorming ideas about ways to differentiate our business is much more fruitful now that we include employees from all over the world. We share desktops and discuss ideas in a visual, collaborative mode. During these web-based meetings, we get considerable feedback and engagement by seeding a few ideas on a whiteboard to spark creative discussion about new products. It’s been very successful for us.

None of these tools for enhancing collaboration and mobility would be of value to Assurant if we didn’t feel confident in the security of our own and our customers’ data. We’ve found that Office 365 has ample security measures in its underlying architecture. And considering how well all the applications interoperate with Microsoft Intune, that’s a strong selling point for any enterprise organization interested in pursuing mobility. We use Microsoft Intune to enhance our ability to provide effective mobile products to our sales team, executives and field claims staff.

Employees are quickly adopting Yammer as our corporate social network. We embedded Yammer on the home page of our intranet, and people are responding well to the mix of company information and employee conversations, where colleagues can post questions regarding customer service issues or ask for advice about new products. We’re using Yammer to build a sense of belonging and spur the impulse to pull together for the same goals. This is a crucial attribute for a strong, cohesive workforce and, at the end of the day, it could be the most lasting benefit of Office 365.

—Robert Lewis