Technologies Taking Industries to the Next level of Transparency

By Thomson Thomas, CIO, HDFC Standard Life Insurance
The health of the insurance sector reflects a country’s economy. This sector not only generates long-term funds for infrastructure development, but also increases a country’s risk-taking capacity. India’s economic growth since the turn of the century is viewed as a significant development in the global economy. Ever since the Indian government liberalized the insurance sector in 2000 and opened the doors for private participation, the sector has gone from strength to strength. The resultant competition has provided the consumer with a never-before-seen range of products and providers, and also enhanced service levels markedly. Insurance, being a paper intensive technology, demands a thorough Digitized Workflow providing a descriptive outlook on the business processes. What has changed dramatically in the last few years is the advent of digital and customer expectations based on the same.

The high level of digital awareness which is being expected today by the customers has caused exposure of a lot of business processes to them and this in turn has initiated the transformation of these processes. The new technologies coming in are joining the revolution which is taking the industry to the next level of transparency. Among the tech trends, Mobility and Cloud have started transforming businesses while Social has started making its presence. There is a lot of emphasis on Big Data to handle the deluge of data, while Business Intelligence is being used to structure the unstructured data and derive insights from it. Involvement of technology in Insurance has increased over the past few years and it will continue to reach newer levels in the future. Expectations are being fueled by the age of the customer and the technology that is available to the particular group. So the challenges are on how to create solutions which satisfy all age groups. Cross industry innovation is also acting as an encouraging factor as we can see how e-commerce is redefining businesses and their processes.

Reducing Operational Costs by Consolidation

The challenge with the enterprises has always been that they sell products and do not really solve business problems end-to-end. They ideally should understand business and present solutions which take care of the business problem which could have one or more partner products. While organizations understand the need and value of technology, the money that is available will be limited. This can be managed by reducing the operating costs by consolidation; negotiating existing contracts and looking for a refresh albeit staying within the expenses. Every business requirement raised has to have a Cost Benefit Analysis done and any case that creates value should only be taken ahead.

Technology is a key lever in organizations and is being used to create a competitive advantage. It is used to create opportunities to generate revenue and reduce cost of operation. Especially for the services organizations, technology is at the centre. So obviously there is a huge pressure on the technology teams to automate and stay ahead. There is a challenge to meet the multiple demands quickly. We have a Technology Steering Committee which decides on the priority based on business impact of projects and we ensure that these get delivered on time.

Take Time to Hire the Right Talent

Managing the rapidly changing Technology landscape has become a daunting task today as the number of technology based innovations has increased dramatically and hence the competition based on technology has also increased. This just keeps technology team on a treadmill which increases its speed every three to six months. Hiring and retaining talent is also becoming a big challenge since there is an acute shortage of talent in the market. Instead of hiring just to fill up positions, we should take time and hire the right talent. We should also nurture and develop internal candidates to take up more responsibility. While this keeps them engaged, it also helps them grow.

In fact this is the best time for technology professionals since the pace of change is so fast that traditional models tend to become hurdles, so each team within IT has to innovate to keep up with the change.  Technologies teams need to keep track of latest technologies by ensuring that they meet and talk to as many partners are possible and each team member should be encouraged to join various forums. Effort needs to be made to track best practices or case studies in India and the globe; not just in our industry but also across industries.

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