A successful cost cutting drive through greater use of automation has sugar coated the difficult first half results of 2009 from insurances services provider Standard Life. Operating profit before tax on the European Embedded Value fell to £348 million for the first six months of 2009 at Standard Life, down from £543m for the same period of 2008.

In 2008 Standard Life introduced its Continues Improvement Programme to reduce costs at the insurance company. In its first half results for 2009 Standard Life said the first phase has been completed and it has achieved savings of £100m a year early and as a result it will look to cut a further £75m in annual savings by the end of next year. In the first half of 2009 Standard Life achieved savings of £26m. The savings have been achieved through automation of the customer services and outsourcing parts of its IT services.

Earlier this year Standard Life adopted the Oracle Identity and Access Management software to improve customer and partner access to its online services, which it said will reduce costs as well as improve security; the Oracle system is to be rolled out globally. Standard Life has developed a service oriented architecture (SOA) for the organisation which has saved £16m. Improvements to document management with the upgrade of its scanners has saved Standard Life £1.1m it said.

"The recession has had an inevitable impact on our performance in the first half of 2009," said Sir Sandy Crombie (pictured), the group chief executive of CIO 100 ranked Standard Life. "However, today's results highlight Standard Life's robust business model and ongoing resilience of our balance sheet."