Tata AIG working on Enterprise Architecture 2.0, Dipak Nair, Chief Technology Officer at Tata AIG General Insurance

The Tech Team is working on Enterprise Architecture 2.0, a program of many initiatives to make Tata AIG a leader in Insurance Tech space

Post the lockdown announcement, how did you activate your BCP ?
As a responsible insurance provider, Tata AIG understands the need and urgency of staying connected with our policy holders at all times. It is now more important than ever to stay connected with them digitally and offering service to our policy holders virtually. Even before the lockdown started, we were future ready with our technology at the backend and adopted work from home very seamlessly with minimalistic hurdles in getting our infrastructure ready for the transition. We had  our VPN ecosystem working smoothly and having adequate capacity to cater 100% of our workforce base before the lockdown started.  While we have a Cloud based VC model deployed for all major offices, during this locked down period, Microsoft Teams has been an effective platform for our employees to bridge a virtual meetings via  Video conferencing. We have been using Teams for organizing any internal event for communication within teams or with any external stakeholders. With an average of 200 Kbps speed, Teams can cater Video with Audio calls seamlessly. For secured access, VPN with Multifactor Authentication, Host Checkers were used.

In a work from home arrangement, what kind of content can be shared?
As Work from Home is enabled only via VPN in all cases, which is a logical extension of the Intranet, our content sharing rules remains the same even during the WFH scenario. There is no compromise on daily work capabilities for the workforce.   Teams are using this situation of work from home as an opportunity to get equipped to digital platforms and adapt to this new normal.  A lot of knowledge sharing sessions are being conducted on these platforms.

For how many days have you procured the necessary resources?
As we were preparing ourselves to be available and offer our services round the clock to our customers, we prepped our infrastructure so that we were able to offer seamless services at all times, without procuring any additional resource during this lockdown. The promise of being available to our customers at all time virtually has now become a practice for all time. Tata AIG was adequately resourced to enable remote working for all employees while maintaining business continuity in all aspects.

Is there any time window for which the network resources will be made available during the day?
Our Network Resources is available round the clock, without any disruption.

Your BCP is as per recommendations of which industry body / vendor / international convention, etc
IRDA is the guiding regulatory body for the Insurance Industry, and primarily the driver of regulations, guidelines and best practices. We have complied with its internal benchmarks, government advisory and all regulatory requirements and suggestions to handle the Pandemic situation.

How will employee attendance be posted in the system? (Will you calculate, for how much time, the employee is logged in to the system)
We use our HRMS & Intranet Portals for marking attendance. Workforce dynamics are constantly evolving today and there is a need for the organizations to adapt to these changes quickly. Adhering to the same and trusting our employees, we do not believe in monitoring their performances basis their login and logout time. We follow a defined metric driven approach for measuring productivity. .

Our employees are adopting, adapting and relearning this new normal under these challenging circumstances while operating from home. Not to forget the additional efforts taken to preserve their health and safety and attend to the needs of their families. We are empathetic to the situation and thus rather than looking at screen time analysis, even while work from home, we are continuing to measure productivity metrics based on actual outcomes. We have seen that in many functions the productivity has actually gone up and collaborations are better among members and teams.

What about the feet on street (now since they will work from home and not make customer visits), are they doing virtual customer meets ?
The sales teams, channel partners and managers along with partners are now adapting to this new normal way of doing business, and ensuring their presence to customers in these unprecedented times. Consulting, educating and selling of insurance policies has now moved to digital and so are end to end fulfillments cycles like buying, availing policy document, renewals, change in policy and claim settlement done on various digital channels.

While investing in app is an option, we may want to first ask – is it going to add value to a customer to download an app for a general insurer or should we look at better options. We are working on certain projects that will help the customers reach us more easily and empower them impactfully.

Live Video Streaming is one such live project built around one of Tata’s value – “Pioneering.” Ours is a bespoke Live video streaming  technology which can operate on low bandwidth and allow us to connect with the customer / garage on their mobile device to conduct remote motor claim surveys and pre-inspection at the click of a button. This is a game changer in the GI space since live video streaming empowers customers, workshops and our collaborators to carry out self-inspections and eliminates the lead time for physical inspections. The adoption in digital collaboration platforms has happened in no time. People across the board have embraced technology and have found new ways to carry out their business. In all forms of business, we are seeing the transition from old age sales pitch to tech platforms based sales and service offerings.

At the Backend – Are you more reliant on public cloud ?
We currently have an effective mix of Public & Private Cloud Infrastructure which is catering sufficiently to our needs.

What kind of support did you get from your implementation partners?
We receive excellent support from almost all of our implementation partners. The services offered from the Tech based partners and community during these difficulties have been exemplary. The collaborated efforts, quick on the fly thinking, innovations, reaction time to hurdles, all are inspirational stories to tell. The organization stood its ground and technology became an advantage for the business rather than a hurdle. Our sincere thanks and compliments to all our partners including tech as well as facilities and other business partners. We believe everyone stood up and took ownership.

Lessons learnt from the crises

– The limitations and challenges are only mental, for e.g. the earlier hesitance or caution of suggesting WFH models was washed off in a single day.

– The concept of “Work Life Balance” vs “Work life Integration” is understood by all of us.

– Adapting to collaboration by geographies are disappearing and physical                               boundaries/constraints are getting blurred. (today project teams need not be physically collocated)

Please brief on some of the tech initiatives in the pipeline and the ones recently launched ?

– We are using this work from home as an opportunity to focus on important tasks to an “Urgent” ones. as normally the urgent over powers the important work items and pushes it back. we are trying to bring more innovation to our businesses which can be the key enablers to the business growth in future..

– The Tech Team is working on Enterprise Architecture 2.0, a program of many initiatives to make TataAIG a leader in Insurance Tech space.

– Various projects and initiatives have already been initiated and running towards offering innovative digitally customer centricity products and services to our customers.  we are also working towards smoothening our digital customer experiences, using data science, process innovations, automation, robotics, AI and Machine learning, Workforce digitalization, etc.

– We have also launched Mobile based Workspace connectivity for new joiners & DoD

How are you preparing the backend for higher availability of your customer facing platforms?
We believe in constantly evolving our backend and building readiness. A lot of work has been done on building critical systems components which include the backbone infrastructure components, Network Infra, Internet Links, VPN Systems or Core Applications. All these components are all highly resilient with adequacy achieved via capacity planning. We will continue to strengthen with robust testing cycles like extended DR fail-overs, extended department wise user BCP drills etc to ensure service up time.

What kind of features in your customer facing applications will drive usage in the times to come?
User Experience and ease of use driven by world class UI/UX and user journeys on front end system will be key driver of usage and adoption. We want our systems to be intuitive and easy to use across features and functionalities be it direct to customers or for our partners.

We are building apps that are flexible in terms of compatibility and reach. Compatibility where it can smoothly function on any browser or device and can operate well on very low bandwidths as well as a Mobile First approach.

What kind of role change do you foresee for the young hires. How are you encouraging them to come up with ideas?
Not exactly role changes, but each role within the organization will be a well-rounded role. Based on key success factors and outcome metrics, the roles will have a significant tech competency component to it as newer methods of digital assets will flow into each function and process. We believe individuals who use tech efficiently will be relatively more successful than others.

Tata AIG runs a program called Ideas@work with its process and system frontend on the Intranet portal, to facilitate free flow of ideas and suggestions from the workforce and the careful evaluation and fulfillment of the same through an Ideas workflow process.

Your views on relationship with vendors, partners?
TATA AIG has always seen the suppliers of services and assets not as vendors but as partners. Collaboration, ownership, and accountability are the three pillars of our relationship with our service providers. To derive more value out from vendor relationships, organizations need to shelve their traditional vendor management practices where only transactional TAT & SLAs are measured. To a new-age collaborative approach, an effective vendor relationship management process can deliver number of key benefits from better TCO, to Innovations, to aligning towards one’s strategic goals etc. where business outcome metrics are used to measure effectiveness of the relationship. Business Outcome Metrics vs SLA/TAT is the key to a successful partnership model for our partners (suppliers/vendors).

As for the business and channel partners, the continued focus on channel partner servicing, enablement via people, process and technology continues. The projects driven for digital experience are extended to the partner ecosystems too, and we see better transaction capability, servicing and MIS for partners in the times to come. The relationship between Tata AIG and Partners is of paramount importance for us and a constant feedback mechanism along with benchmarking exercises keeps us on our toes to improve on our services. The three pillars Collaboration, ownership, and accountability apply here as well for us, in servicing our channel partners with an aim for superior experience.

bcpChief Technology OfficerDipak NairTata AIG General Insurance Company
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