Exide Life, under your leadership has successfully piloted RPA for extracting data and information from publicly available sources. What have been your observations on implementing RPA and the mistakes that can be avoided?
Implementing RPA was an experimental initiative for us, where we soon realised that the collected data needs several levels of scrubbing and validation. However, syndicate data available at the industry level definitely adds a lot of value to the operational processes.
What would be your advice to the IT and digital leaders in insurance organisations who have just begun or plan to kick-off their RPA roadmap?
Operational cost reduction should not be the sole objective for an RPA exercise. It is always a better option to look at re-deployment of the intuitive human capital for more creative and imaginative work profiles. RPA is a good tool to have when there are multiple repetitive jobs that have critical outcomes, such as financial and regulatory reporting. New users can also look at using RPA to quickly run pilots and if found successful, human co-workers can be deployed to handle the cognitive growth of the initiative. Bots also have a fair amount of use-case in situations where a scale-up is not feasible via the human route.
You also have the experience of setting up rule-based engines for underwriting processes and risk management. What are the learnings in this space?
Rules are best set on loose structures with existing business flows without any hard coupling. This is essential to avoid future complications while introducing new lines of products, channels, partners etc. It also makes fair sense to study the market and lay the right framework to accommodate probable expansion plans in future.
What’s the overall business strategy to crank-up continuous engagement with the customers whether it be servicing or offering customised products. How does digital play a role in aligning with the strategy at Exide Life Insurance?
Customers essentially have to be segmented basis their overall market engagement. A well-defined segmentation strategy with personalised service is the mandate for all digital programs. Customers are not averse to sharing data as long as the insurers are sensitive to the usage of the same; be in terms of product offering, personalised service or cross-sell. All of this combined, and more can be achieved by tapping the transaction, demographic, behavioural & social data that insurers collect at regular intervals.
These data points need to be stitched on the data fabric and made the cornerstone for every customer engagement activity.
A critical area for any Life Insurance company is investments of AUM. How does digital play a role here and what are the kind of tech tools that you have leveraged (may be in combination with fund managers) to get the best returns?
The insurance industry is a heavily regulated space mandating zero tolerance on AUM gaps. This has nudged all players to adopt technology solutions to manage funds, declare NAVs, create a clear line of sight for the fund managers and help them get the investment details instantaneously. There are multiple industry feeds that are leveraged in conjunction with transactions from the core system to manage equities, derivatives and similar instruments.
What is your approach to provide a robust and seamless/interoperable platform to the channels that distribute your insurance products?
The key to ensure a seamless distribution process with the help of a right platform is not to bind the core backend tightly to the front facing application layer. It is imperative to have a loosely coupled service oriented layer with APIs to connect to different type of external platforms. Microservices based architectures are in vogue but not many core applications in the market have that capability. It is important to have a strong middleware to bring all these disparate components – core system, rule engines, business workflows, communication platforms, data layers, partner ecosystems, AI/ML/Bot stacks –to meet the evolving nature of integrated business.
The third wave cannot be ruled out. How differently are you planning to manage the crises this time around? How are you getting prepared for the impending third wave? How will digital play a role given that we are approaching the JFM quarter, which is when bulk of Life Insurance business is done?
Let’s hope that we do not have to witness a severe third wave. That said, the first two waves of coronavirus strengthened the significance of insurance products and insurers were quick to adopt digital tools to stay relevant despite restrictions on the physical meetings. We overhauled our technology platform and started building digital enterprise assets much before the pandemic hit. We were, in fact, one of the first companies to adopt a mobile-first approach for our sales team. Today, we have platforms to connect the customer, the advisor, the sales manager and the contact centre simultaneously.
With the convenience of digitization, our customers can pick the right insurance product and have the entire process completed online, either directly or through an agent, including e-KYC and premium payment.