The year of 2009 was a huge one for Aviva and not just because it operates in the turbulent air of the financial services sector. In one year, the company changed its name from Norwich Union in the UK, unveiled a new brand in concert with a massive marketing campaign and then suffered the embarrassment of a media mini-scandal surrounding the love life of its CEO and other key executives.
Financially, the company suffered from the lower demand for life cover and pensions but successfully grew profits in new business and improved its balance sheet, for example through cuts of some job roles, the partial IPO of its Netherlands business Delta Lloyd, sale of its Australian life business and by listing on the New York Stock Exchange.
But in the UK the big news that was impossible to avoid was the rebranding to Aviva that took effect here on 1 June as part of an ambitious effort to become a growing, global player that currently operates across 28 markets. Already the world's fifth largest insurer, Aviva is betting the branding - which was already in use in most markets the company serves -- will help it gain recognition and realise economies of scale, hence the message of ‘One Aviva, twice the value'.
To help hammer home the Aviva nomenclature, the company also sponsors motor sports and yachting teams among other ventures. With 300 years of experience, 54,000 staff and 50 million customers, Aviva has scale but execution will need to be flawless for the company to make further inroads.
In IT, like many rivals, Aviva has long been pushing to consolidate systems and cut costs and has large outsourcing contracts to India and with Cable & Wireless and, announced in March 2009, HP-EDS for infrastructure. In 2009, the company also differentiated itself in a couple of ways.
First, it opted out of third-party market comparison sites, instead pushing consumers to use the Aviva website to compare against others. Second, it signed a notable deal with Microsoft on the hosted BPOS application suite with its polyglot CIO - raised in Hartlepool, the US and Mexico and formerly at Motorola -- Toby Redshaw outspoken on the benefits of the software giant's. Other activity included a deal  to install business process management software from Lombardi, an agreement to use a hosted version of Ariba's spend management software.