Suncorp uses innovative tools to create a self-sustaining, continuous learning culture.


Suncorp, a leading financial services organisation, wanted to transform its classroom learning environment to a culture of continuous learning and create a genuine appetite for knowledge acquisition among its 13,000 staff.

That’s why in early 2018 the group went looking for a social learning platform that would engross and inspire employees. The resulting platform – called Cognita – was welcomed with a 95 per cent take-up rate among staff within the first six months.

The brief

Suncorp approached Janison with the ultimate goal of increasing the prominence and uptake of corporate learning within the organisation. To do this, it needed solutions that would inherently engage employees, increase uptake via social learning experiences, as well as encourage self-service and self-guided learning. Learning needed to be available in a way that fits in with staff needs – anywhere, anytime and on any device.

The challenge

Suncorp wanted to shift its learning strategy to meet the needs of a changing workforce and industry: one which demands that employees cross-skill and are equipped to work across teams. Staff needed multifaceted core capabilities, allowing them to transcend their role-based job and prepare them for the future of work.

Suncorp also needed to streamline the work of its in-house learning design team. This called for tools that would allow learners to generate their own learning, plus participate in unstructured and self directed learning.

The process

Suncorp’s forward-thinking, agile ethos partnered perfectly with Janison’s collaborative, human-centred approach to tailoring solutions. Janison and Suncorp worked in concert to co-produce ideas at all stages of the project.

Fiona Ward, Janison’s Head of Learning, said: “Suncorp is very well-known as an agile company – it’s important to the way they operate.” Over a three-month design process, Janison ran workshops to get feedback, with 500 staff participating in trying out the platform, and brainstorming and finessing ideas and functionality.

The architect and create phase up to launch – including customisation and configuration – took 12 weeks. To make this possible, work was broken into sprints with Suncorp closely involved at each stage.

“To introduce Suncorp to the platform, Janison ran a lunchtime session on Skype with 160 users dialling in and watching a demo of the system with the Suncorp branding, as a ‘this is how it could look’,” Fiona said. “There was a lot of excitement there.”

“An architect workshop stepped leaders through key components of the platform, and how Janison would configure and integrate Suncorp’s existing technologies. The team was walked through screenshots of the entire screen sequence and user experience.”

In the background, Suncorp was also internally generating teaser views of the new platform, stoking excitement among employees. Fiona said: “Their change management was impressive and started before we even commenced the build. There was a lot of internal promoting of the platform and what was to come.”

Our solution

Cognita formally launched live to approximately 13,000 users in July 2018, with all data entirely hosted onshore in Australia via the Microsoft Azure cloud – another critical consideration within the financial services industry.

Charmian Fry, head of learning at Suncorp, said: “We were really focused on the platform being as self-service as possible. It had to have gamification elements to keep the learning interesting and interactive. We also knew that it had to be simple and intuitive.”

Single sign-on with an extra welcoming touch

Janison configured the cloud server for single sign-on (SSO) even down to details such as synchronising staff’s intranet profile picture. This meant that when each staff member first logged on, they were presented with their own picture already pre-loaded into their profile, giving an extra personal and welcoming touch.

AI and machine learning: The recommendations carousel and chatbot

Keen to ensure that the interface met the expectations of a digitally-savvy workforce, Janison developers created a “recommendations engine” that behaves much like a personalised Netflix-style streaming service, steering employees to learning which they might want or need.

“Essentially, we’re utilising Azure machine learning technology to create a recommendations engine that we serve via a chatbot,” said Janison’s former Chief Executive Officer Tom Richardson. “When someone completes a module, a chatbot pops up and asks for a rating. The system then interprets the data around the ratings that you and other people give to content and creates a profile for each user.”

“We’re utilising Azure machine learning technology to create a recommendations engine that we serve via a chatbot. The system then creates a profile for each user.”

Tom Richardson
Former Chief Executive Officer, Janison

Social learning

Social learning is the marquee feature of Cognita and is pivotal to encouraging employees to log in and participate. The tools look and behave like the world’s most prominent social media platforms, stoking an appetite among Suncorp staff to complete modules, recommend courses to their peers and even contribute their own. A leaderboard displays where staff rank among their colleagues.

User-generated learning

One of Suncorp’s key goals was to put learning back in the hands of the learners. Cognita’s Add & Share features deliver on this ambition.

The tools allow employees to create content modules and contribute to the body of learning knowledge available across the Suncorp Group – and allows Suncorp to tap into a rich resource among its team.

Users can add their own content such as a useful reference on a website, a tech document or case study, as well as content that staff write themselves.

As well as being an economical way to grow content that’s also highly motivating for staff, Charmian said that, effectively, “every day we learn in our office just by talking to each other.”

She added: “We’ve taken a very bold move by opening up learning for any employee to be able to share what they think is valuable to more than 13,000 other learners. Building the capability of our people isn’t only good for our people, but a great way to support our customers.”

“We’ve taken a very bold move by opening up learning. Building the capability of our people isn’t only good for our people, but a great way to support our customers.”

Charmian Fry
Head of Learning, Suncorp Group


In order to collect specific metrics, Suncorp leaders required a highly bespoke reporting capability. Janison designed this utilising the API data in the system, making use of Microsoft Azure secure file storage for HR data imports.

The result

From its first days of launch, Cognita enjoyed outstanding staff engagement and has transformed learning at Suncorp, according to Charmian.

“Within the first three months of the platform going live, we had a 74 per cent uptake which is just phenomenal – people are using it, recognising the benefits and coming back for more,” she said.

This climbed to an extraordinary 95 per cent take-up rate among staff within the first six months. The Add & Share tools have proven such a hit among staff, according to Vlade Angel, learning planning and performance manager at Suncorp, that the majority of content in Cognita today has been user-generated. “One staff member who is a data expert, for example, has been able to use Cognita Add & Share tools to create learning modules accessible to everyone,” he said.

“Within the first three months of the platform going live, we had a 74 per cent uptake which is just phenomenal – people are using it, recognising the benefits and coming back for more.”

Charmian Fry

Fiona said: “Suncorp had content from third-party providers on its legacy LMS for seven years, and since the content shifted into Cognita, it’s had higher completion rates than ever. It’s some of the same content, but presenting it in a different way has gotten that level of buy-in from staff.”

Human impact

Accessibility features are also overcoming barriers for Suncorp employees. A visually impaired employee said he’s had his learning experience transformed, said Vlade.

“Traditionally we would’ve had to put a facilitator in place to talk him through online learning either because the platform didn’t support WCAG (web content accessibility guidelines) compliance or the content wasn’t built that way.

“He said Cognita was the first time he felt that he was able to self-serve and complete learning in his own time. For him to say, ‘I’ve been able to interact with that platform, I can do it myself, I don’t need to wait for someone to come and sit with me’, I think that’s fantastic.”

The technology has also been transformative for another employee, who had been diagnosed with a degenerative medical condition and was able to use the platform to retrain for a different role in Suncorp. This means she will have the skills needed to contribute meaningfully to the group even when her health conditions change.

Charmian said: “She had never imagined a career outside of her current role, and now she can see a pathway forward and have absolute personal control over her learning journey.”

The roadmap

Janison continues to have regular account management catch ups and check-ins with Suncorp, creating new updates on the recommendations technology, carousels in the chatbot and continually advancing the social learning interface.

Suncorp is tagging every piece of content that’s distributed in the system with core capabilities or specialist capabilities. Its next challenge is how to translate this, and its high engagement rates, into data on the day-to-day positive impacts on how staff do their job.

The group also wants the Add & Share features to empower users even more, so Janison is developing even more advanced functionality for these tools.

Download customer story

Statistics and key milestones


of staff became active users of Cognita within six months of its launch


learning items completed within the first 12 months


items created by Suncorp employees within the first 12 months

Back to customer stories