Biz, Tech & Brains – Ep1

We conducted a survey for all our readers on the topic they’re most interested in. And thanks to our little survey, we’ve realised that the hot favourite topic is to “Hear IT from the Horse’s mouth” – “Experiences directly from the market – C Suite”

So, with no further ado, here we are with our very first conversation on “Biz, Tech & Brains”.
Manomay: We know you’ve recently had a Platform Replacement. Looking back, what do you think is the right approach for Insurance Companies? Continue with the Legacy and build capability on top or go ahead with the Replacement Approach?
Customer SVP Tech:  In most cases, it depends on the circumstances. It comes down to a Min-Max equation – you’re trying to minimize certain types of costs and maximize certain types of benefits, and these fall into three general categories of benefits that technology can deliver,

  • Technology is going to let you know something that you didn’t know before
  • It is faster, virtual, real time, it’s going to automate something that is done by people, today.
  • It opens a channel & lets people interact with us in a virtual way – the way they do their online shopping

There is, however, a sort of fourth category. And it’s around maintaining the legacy. As technology gets older, it becomes harder to support, harder to integrate, difficult to expand etc – preventing us from using newer technologies that might do something better. Most of the times, it’s hard to quantify the costs invested in “fixing”. And that’s where, it becomes important to analyse, how much is legacy technology holding us back from realising the benefits vis-à-vis the expenses in running it. 
Manomay:  In our experience, we have seen Companies struggling to draw the line between the needs & wants – what they have today & its sufficiency vs. what is out there. In your view, what should be the trigger for change?
Customer SVP TechWhen you look at your current IT landscape, and if your technology is still widely supported, able to move with the shifts in industry and allows you to manipulate your data, integrate to interfaces, etc., you need not worry; otherwise, you’ve got a reason to replace legacy systems.
In short if it isn’t broken don’t fix it.
Manomay:  Makes sense. With InsurTech strides, how do you know what needs to be changed, when and how much? Overall, what’s your perspective on the transformation?
Customer SVP TechLet me explain this with an example, if we look at claims, you can digitize part of the experience but you’re going to need human beings for investigating & checking. Technology is not going to be able to tell ALL from a picture and credit money in a bank 2 seconds later. From a customer’s perspective, what’s of continuing importance is – What information do I need to submit? How do I get things going? What’s the status? When am going to get my money? – that sort of basic hand holding & reporting, makes sense to me. 
However, a lot of what I see in terms of InsurTech beyond this – still feels a little bit like it’s either something that’s been done before or they’re doing it differently now. I’m not really sure if it makes sense for insurance. They’re trying to take a pattern that’s worked in another sector and sell it to insurance customers. 
Manomay:  Agreed. However, as we see, Insurtech has also been helping Companies improve their overall process efficiencies. What’s your take from that angle?
Customer SVP Tech: If you look at internal business processes it’s kind of, like, spaghetti. Everything goes everywhere – for e.g.:  Product handling goes one way, customer servicing goes one-way, internal employee handoffs and workflows, the other way. There’s a lot of complexity in managing and maintaining all that happens internally.
Now, when it comes to technology, computers are good at doing math, but you only start seeing the benefits of technology if you’re doing the same math repeatedly.  Over time when you initiate a change, something should be changing & there are other times it shouldn’t – and this is where, complexity management comes into picture.
From efficiency point of view, I think, you can automate a lot with technology & leverage the opportunity for decision making, simplifying, and streamlining the processes. This is one area where IT has really solved, but not to the exclusion of people.
Manomay:  In our experience, we have seen Companies complaining about value from IT – including those they handpicked. They envision the new tech to be an enabler at the beginning & often claim that the choice was bad, 1 or 2 years down the line – ready for the next decision. Why is this the case?
Customer SVP TechWe talk about technology being the enabler, but we also need to enable technology.  
It’s not always as simple as someone coming into the room, watching a demo of a technology in action, and concluding it’s going to fit right for you. Most of the times, companies jump on board because of how easy it looks, but missing out on attention to details such as –

  • How does this product work?
  • How does it fit into my business processes?
  • What are the changes I need to make/ streamline?
  • What’s it going to cost OOB + With changes I might need?

Lack of such analysis generally makes you realise that/this solution is probably making things worse for you despite the initial glow. At the same time, all the automation and technology make everything look shiny on the outside, which probably deviates the companies from making much-informed choices – everyone tends to go in a way followed by everyone else, rather than assessing the fundamental factors.
I think, the key here is for companies to answer, “What are we trying to prove?”, “How much more can we do with less?” And then, look at how that technology moves the needle one way or the other.  
Manomay:  Totally agree. It’s very important for companies to first identify what’s right for them. But some of the tools & technologies, out there, are really helping companies, especially with pandemic around, right? Don’t you think Companies need to move faster in adapting?
Customer SVP Tech: Oh, there are definitely some great developments. For e.g.: Facial Recognition is doing great for comparing images for proof of life and identity management. We previously had people sending us images and then we validate them by seeing the people in person, which is something we don’t have to do anymore. The checks are automated, and the processes are faster.
And again, technology definitely helps but you have to wait a while & assess the parameters & factors before jumping – right now we’re still in the honeymoon phase of new tech adaptation.
Looking back, most of our customers were probably naïve consumers of insurance products, and it still continues to a certain extent. But the focus for companies is now shifting to make things easier for them by improving internal efficiencies. Companies “WANT” to do this now.

Manomay:  But a lot of them are still holding back. What do you think is pulling companies back from moving forward technologically?  
Customer SVP Tech:Companies are kind of brainstormed to serve customers digital – apps, BOTs, portals etc.  But it’s tough for us to do it because we realize how disappointing our data is; trust me, it’s not a pretty picture. The hard part is not in “exposing something to the customer”; the hard part is “keeping things running smoothly” once you do it.   
Unless these are streamlined, in the long-term aspect of process efficiencies in the organization, you would probably end up making mistakes increasingly or impacting negatively that cost a lot for fixing.  

Manomay:  What is your final comment on the buzz ‘Transforming to Digital’ 
Customer SVP TechIf you’re truly replacing human workers – it makes sense but again, companies need to understand “how” and “when” they apply technology, than working on fixing something that isn’t broken.

Biz Tech Insights Team

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