Reading Time: 18 minutes

Kostas Williams, Manager of Architecture and Planning at Cbus, spoke at our MuleSoft CONNECT Digital event in June. Cbus is one of the largest industry superannuation funds in Australia. Serving the construction, building, and allied industries, it has more than 760,000 members and holds responsibility for north of $56.7 billion in retirement saving funds. Using MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform, Cbus has embarked on its digital transformation journey to provide a superior, connected experience for its members. In his blog, Kostas shares Cbus’ digital transformation story.

At Cbus, our core strategy is to generate the best possible retirement outcomes for our members by putting them at the centre of everything we do. An essential part of the strategy is offering a superior experience by understanding our members and employers, and gaining their trust by helping them achieve better outcomes.

latest report
Learn why we are the Leaders in API management and iPaaS

In 2018, we began our digital transformation journey to enhance the member experience in line with our strategic goals and the first tranche of delivery took place in July 2019.

Challenges we faced before the transformation

Before our transformation, the user experience on our digital channels needed a serious upgrade. Because members had to interact with multiple channels for a single process, the user experience through these digital channels did not encourage interaction with their investments and the wider company. There wasn’t a seamless way to stay connected across web and mobile systems.

Due to the siloed systems of data across the core administration and other legacy systems, it wasn’t possible to get a 360-degree customer view across all available channels, thus creating blockers for member transparency. So, while we were offering many ways to engage with the bank — including onsite and via contact centres — our members could not seamlessly switch between these channels.

In 2016, we launched a new public website on a new platform with a fresh look and feel. That was just the beginning of this multifaceted transformation, but we still couldn’t easily change or extend all the other digital assets.

At that time, our technology team was primarily focused on internal-facing delivery of business services with information security and enterprise architecture as supporting roles. We didn’t have the skills needed to work with all the new technology required to deliver this digital roadmap, and we didn’t have the luxury of time to build such a large team from scratch. So we selected Deloitte Digital to be a strategic partner for this transformation.

How we are enabling new digital experiences

To kick off the transformation, we made strategic choices and investments in our core technology platforms and how they are hosted. We are a cloud-first and SaaS-based organization and we needed integration to blend all of our platforms and core systems together to create these new experiences and enable iterative future extendability. For this, we chose to put MuleSoft in the middle of our digital landscape, allowing us to build an architecture that helps Cbus easily onboard partners and services. It also set us up for success for future initiatives, such as open banking.

The architecture of the product, as well as the licensing structure we achieved, allows us to flex our on-premise vs. cloud-based deployment over time. Local support of such a key platform is important to us, not just in the region, but also in Melbourne where we are based.

Creating a new and improved experience meant we had to go back to our members, get their feedback, recreate our customer journeys, and take it back to the data needed to bring those journeys to life. Having MuleSoft as our integration layer allows us to consider what data needs to be available and where it should be mastered.

In the past, Cbus could only see and work with the data managed by the administrator. This was leading to an inability to better understand our members from a needs perspective and delays in accessing data for reporting and insights. As a result, we introduced Salesforce Financial Services Cloud as our future servicing platform. So Cbus service functions benefit from features such as a better search for our members, quicker access to their contributions history, understanding when a member interacts with our assisted channels, visibility to leads and opportunities for employees, and pipeline management to name a few.

We also have a new data platform to consolidate information across multiple channels, service providers and assets to provide the analytics, insights, and specific information back to the servicing channels. Previously, long-running projects had to be executed in a waterfall way and be delivered by third-party system owners and always at cost that was largely dependent on those third parties. Having identified and abstracted the key systems involved via our integration layer, we can now turn our newly defined user journeys into streamlined, personalized experiences. We are also in better control when it comes to change — be it due to regulatory reasons or when adding or changing features.

We also needed to move to an omnichannel servicing strategy where interactions and transactions can be initiated in one channel and finished in another, and face-to-face or assisted interactions that have awareness of a member’s history and their personal circumstances.

The combination of Salesforce and MuleSoft, together with the analytical capability of our data platform, now allows our servicing teams to access insights and have the visibility they need into our members’ history. This in turn allows our members to receive the right service irrespective of where it takes place.

How an API-led approach changed Cbus’ Member experience

Let’s consider our new Member experience, with the Member Join process as an example: before our transformation, new members applying for an account with Cbus would go through a lengthy application process with many questions and choices to make, many of which were not relevant to their circumstances. This caused confusion and abandonment, which we could not easily respond to.

As a result, we needed to review and rethink our user experience. We reduced the number of steps from seven to four, while introducing logic and rules along the way to allow new members to only supply the information that was applicable to them. We also offered an option to save an incomplete application and come back to it at a later point in time.

When it’s time for our members to submit their application form, MuleSoft controls and orchestrates the onboarding process, ensuring that the administration system will be updated, new identity and credentials will be created, and the conversion is tracked from then onwards in Salesforce CRM.

Our member portal and app project, our Release Zero, focused on creating this new experience for our members. That phase saw the inception of all API classes relevant to members, their profile, accounts, transactions and beneficiaries. These API classes encapsulate all operations relating to members interacting with their Super. Later on, when it came to offer a new digital channel for our employers, all the capabilities for anything member-related was already there. All we had to do was create the right APIs and experience to enable and manage employer structures in Salesforce.

Our Super Income Stream portal was yet another externally managed asset. This was a separate portal for our members falling in that category. That meant two lots of credentials, two lots of experiences. As we reimagine that experience for our members, all we had to do was extend the member portal out of Release Zero to cater for those income stream members. This is also a great example of how you can decommission an entire asset by just extending an existing one. We will continue to reuse those APIs where necessary to bring in real-time externally managed data into that platform.

We are also starting the journey with API-led connectivity workshops, which are targeted to bring together technology and business people in the same room to talk about real use cases and business problems to solve by approaching them from a customer journey and layering perspective.

Our successes and learnings so far

In a member-focused transformation, nothing speaks stronger than our members’ actions and feedback. We saw great reliability and steady traffic since we launched last year, but we experienced a significant increase in logins in March when COVID-19 started to take effect. Like all our other platforms and the power of the cloud, our MuleSoft infrastructure scaled well, withstood the load and served our members well, whether they were just coming in to keep an eye on their super balance, or to make some important investment decisions.

Our members left us encouraging comments via surveys following the new member join process. We also increased their previous ease of completing score; but we still have a bit more room for further improvement.

If I were to share some learnings with you they would be:

  • Future-proof your landscape as much as you can. The use of cloud-based technologies has given us this advantage, as well as helping us to manage costs better.
  • Build for reuse. You think and create your integrations for reuse, and this is where you can leverage API-led thinking to become as API-first as possible.
  • Last but not least: talent and change. You need a good blend of technical skills as well as an ability to empathize with your customers and make them your “true north.” This was not a technology transformation, but a business transformation with members’ experience at the middle of it. In a program that touches so many parts of the organization, people’s roles can change. There will be some uncertainty. So make change management a key part of the program. Make sure that there’s buy-in and that people are supported during that change.

Where do we go from here?

These few steps are three of many:

  • We will continue to connect more servicing roles with the data they need to better service our members and employers by enabling more business teams to use Salesforce as a day to day tool.
  • We now have the right tools to monitor activity, predict behaviour and identify opportunities, and then act accordingly. This is an area where not just API-led thinking, but even AI can free up servicing roles from the repeatable tasks to high-touch and sensitive scenarios, for example, members facing hardship, insurance claims, etc.
  • We’ll be looking to extend the use of APIs across Cbus by looking at opportunities around other functions like people in culture, IT service management, investments, and others.

To learn more about how to digitally transform with an API-led approach, download our whitepaper.