The Phoenix Group ignites digital future with HR ‘Thunderbird’ solution

Birds flying in the sky : Phoenix Group

The UK’s largest long-term savings and retirement business, The Phoenix Group, recognized the need to upgrade its HR system to keep up with digital innovations and prepare for the future in more ways than one.

At the Oracle Cloud World conference last month, Wendy Cunningham, HR COO at Phoenix Group and Kara Dickson, group head of HR operations at Phoenix Group, alongside their partners at IBM, unveiled their HR function on Oracle Cloud HR, aptly named Thunderbird.

The HR goal

With £259bn in assets under administration and a customer base of 12 million, the Phoenix Group aims to become “the best place they’ve ever worked” for employees by 2026. With this goal in mind, the company recognized the need for automation upgrades.

As part of their transformation, the Phoenix Group previously moved to an Oracle Cloud HR platform, with  IBM playing a crucial role as the Systems Integrator.

On Oracle Cloud HR System and with the continued help of IBM partner services, the Phoenix group sought additional upgrades, including the implementation of a new HR automation solution and a ‘friendly’ chatbot to enhance customer experience.

Cunningham said: “We were looking for an implementation partner that could bring the expertise of working with other organizations to do much of what we want to do packaged under Thunderbird. What we foundwith IBM was very like-minded people with a very similar value set, and with a real worth ethic, but who actually had the experience.”

Thunderbird and the McKenzie chatbot

The Phoenix Group’s newest solution, Thunderbird, was then born, designed to automate its HR processes.

Cunningham explained: “The mission of Thunderbird is to create fit-for-purpose, HR solutions that deliver awesome experience through appropriate automation, self-service and process simplification. In a nutshell, Thunderbird is all about process mapping, eliminating unnecessary activity and automating everything that we do.”

At the heart of Thunderbird lies McKenzie, a chatbot designed to provide on-demand support and assistance to employees. McKenzie’s introduction is aimed at enhancing the employee experience, with a focus on user-centric design.

Since its recent go-live, the McKenzie chatbot has engaged in over 10,000 conversations with employees within the first six weeks alone, boasting an impressive success rate of 93 percent. McKenzie has also facilitated 100 colleague-initiated journeys during this period.

Dickson emphasized: “McKenzie is there all the time, on-demand, you can ask it anything you want. We have built a suite of utterances that means that it can respond to you in a way that’s really helpful.”

Soaring towards innovation

While the journey has just begun, the Phoenix Group now plans to extend McKenzie’s capabilities into the realm of GenAI, where they envision a future for HR processes that can be further optimized and personalized.

As the Phoenix Group sails into a digital future, one thing remains clear for the organization: at the heart of innovation is collaboration. Alongside IBM and Oracle, the Phoenix Group is harnessing the power of automation and chatbots to improve their HR functions as they not only prepare for the future of technology – but for our futures as well.