Standard Life speeds application testing and monitoring with machine-learning IT automation tools

Standard Life Investments is using Syntel’s machine learning-based IT automation tools to reduce the time it takes staff to test and monitor software applications.

The asset management arm of the Standard Life’s UK savings and insurance business deployed American service provider Syntel’s SyntBots technology last year to support a number of IT projects, including modernising its batch processing and upgrading mission-critical software systems.

Mike Tumilty, director of operations at Standard Life, told Computerworld UK that the software allowed the business to avoid hiring additional IT staff: “We would have had to employ people ourselves in order to do all of that activity, but they wouldn’t have been able to get near to what we been able to achieve [with SyntBots].”

Standard Life Investments had been a customer of American outsourcing firm Syntel for nearly five years, taking on extra staff to support some of its testing processes, before rolling out the automation technology. SyntBots is essentially an IT automation system with machine learning capabilities, repackaged by managed IT services company Syntel for its customers. This reduces the need for monitoring and testing from IT staff.

“Ultimately if it sees something it learns from that and corrects for the next time it runs,” says Tumilty.

One project was a £20 million upgrade to version nine of the Charles River Investment Management Solution (IMS), which Standard Life had been using already.

According to Tumilty, working with Syntel helped reduce the timeline for this upgrade by forty percent.

Another project was a multi-million pound data programme which is very reliant on the test environments being “up and running”, says Tumilty.

“These are business critical projects where every component part is critical to helping you stay on budget and on track from a timescale perspective.”

Re-deploying staff

One of the advantages of using the SynBots system was to reduce the number of IT staff involved in managing its overnight batch processing of investment deed data.

“In Standard Life Investments there were quite a large number of people, probably a team of about twenty to twenty five in the production support space around an overnight batch,” Tumilty said.

“This thing is a bit of a goliath that runs every night and ultimately makes sure our investment deeds arrive at the right place at the right time and feeds through to our key, critical front office systems.”

Standard Life first approached Syntel to provide automation for the batch process and support from its Indian offices.

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This allowed Tumilty to “re-deploy” those twenty or so in-house IT staff, whose jobs had been automated or outsourced to India “to much more 'value-add' activities”, he says. “So when the managers come in at 7:30 in the morning, that critical system is there and all of the data has been stood up and is ready to go.”

The automation software has not led to a reduction in IT staff, Tumitly adds.

“We have been able to keep our permanent head count in technology fairly static,” says Tumilty, while also “our overall tech spend is down as a percentage” by leveraging Syntel’s capabilities around automation.


Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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