Server­less or­ga­ni­za­tion, on­board­ing in 15 min­utes

Byju Joseph, CTO, Fu­ture Gen­er­ali In­dia Life In­sur­ance, outlines the dig­i­tal di­rec­tion of the com­pany:

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Fu­ture Gen­er­ali In­dia Life In­sur­ance Co be­gan its dig­i­tal jour­ney about 4 years ago and to­day it is per­ceived as a leader in dig­i­ti­za­tion among in­sur­ance com­pa­nies. It has be­come a server­less or­ga­ni­za­tion, all its op­er­a­tional sys­tems are hosted on the cloud and it is now vy­ing to on­board a cus­tomer in just 15 min­utes. What is the sort of tech­nol­ogy in­fras­truc­ture the com­pany has come to set up?

“We de­cided on 3 fac­tors which we thought will drive the in­fras­truc­ture agility in the com­pany,” says Byju Joseph, CTO. “One is the chang­ing con­sumer be­hav­ior to­day, the sec­ond is the new in­suretechs that have come into the mar­ket and the third is the con­nected ecosys­tem across the fi­nan­cial ser­vices in­dus­try. We be­lieve with­out these 3 fac­tors, we can­not cre­ate a tech­nol­ogy in­fras­truc­ture. So, we started our jour­ney of what I would de­scribe as a weld­ing of a dig­i­tal ecosys­tem about 4 years ago. The com­pany was in op­er­a­tion for 6 years then. We found that the con­sumer be­hav­ior has changed, the busi­ness model has trans­formed, and there is a need for a con­nected ecosys­tem to carry on op­er­a­tions. So, we re­al­ized we need to trans­form dig­i­tally and that is the time we started on a full-fledged dig­i­ti­za­tion drive.”


The com­pany con­sciously de­cided not to change the core in­sur­ance sys­tem it had. What it did was to add spaghetti sys­tems around the core - APIs es­sen­tially. That meant in­no­va­tions in dig­i­ti­za­tion were just around the core. The APIs were strate­gic en­ablers. It han­dled the trans­for­ma­tion in a unique way. It cre­ated a sys­tem of records and a sys­tem of en­gage­ments, con­nect­ing the 2 through an en­ter­prise ser­vice bus.

While dig­i­ti­za­tion has hap­pened in banks in a big way, the in­sur­ance sec­tor has been slightly lag­ging. Is Fu­ture Gen­er­ali an ex­cep­tion?

Joseph would not claim it a to­tal ex­cep­tion, but he would say that the com­pany be­came sen­si­tized well enough in time and un­der­stood the im­por­tance of dig­i­ti­za­tion. “Our first strat­egy, some 4 years ago,” says he, “was to en­sure that we lis­ten within or un­der­stand within and we re­al­ized that the en­tire ecosys­tem within has to be dig­i­tized first. We were fo­cus­ing more on the cus­tomer side and how we can en­sure that the cus­tomer is at the cen­ter and how we can ser­vice them ef­fi­ciently were the is­sues. So, all the dig­i­ti­za­tion ef­forts were fo­cused on build­ing sim­ple and smarter solutions with cus­tomer at the cen­ter. We opted for an omni-chan­nel sys­tem right from the be­gin­ning where cus­tomers can come to us through any one of the chan­nels of their pref­er­ence. Mind you, we were the first in the in­sur­ance in­dus­try to use What­sApp as a chan­nel for in­ter­ac­tions with the cus­tomers. We have a bot that gets into a con­ver­sa­tion when there is click from the cus­tomer.”


Joseph says the com­pany has built an omni-chan­nel cus­tomer por­tal re­cently. A cus­tomer can come to the com­pany through some 13 touch­points. Sim­i­larly, it has launched a bot called REVA, or Ro­botic En­abled Vir­tual As­sis­tant, which an­swers queries from cus­tomers on prod­ucts or ser­vices. Pow­ered by NLP tools, it is also ca­pa­ble of un­der­tak­ing all trans­ac­tions as well as sell poli­cies, a first of its kind tool in the in­dus­try in In­dia. REVA was de­vel­oped on Mi­crosoft Cog­ni­tive Plat­form with in­cor­po­rated cus­tomiza­tions. The sys­tem is com­pletely cloud-based.


In this con­text, Joseph points out to an­other unique as­pect of the tech­nol­ogy in­fras­truc­ture: “We are to­day a com­pletely server­less or­ga­ni­za­tion. All our pro­grams and tools re­side on the cloud ex­cept the core sys­tem. The APIs are de­ployed on API Gate­way on the cloud and most of the trans­ac­tion sys­tem is on the cloud and repli­cated to the DR site. In terms of soft­ware, we have the core sys­tem and the APIs, the main­te­nance of which is done by our in­ter­nal team. We do un­der­take de­vel­op­ment in-house and we have a team of 24 de­vel­op­ers and 3 en­ter­prise ar­chi­tects,” says he.

The com­pany is de­vel­op­ing a sys­tem us­ing an­a­lyt­ics and AI to en­able self­ser­vic­ing. All cus­tomer re­quests on REVA and What­sApp are pro­cessed through NLP based sys­tem and it can iden­tify the in­tent of the cus­tomer and it starts re­act­ing based on the queries put in. There is voice­met­rics, that is, us­ing voice pa­ram­e­ters to iden­tify the cus­tomer and at­tend to the cus­tomers’

needs with­out hav­ing to at­tend to him in per­son. “If this sys­tem can han­dle the is­sue and of­fer a so­lu­tion, the is­sue is ter­mi­nated there. In case the prob­lem does not get solved, it is then es­ca­lated to higher lev­els of man­ual in­ter­ven­tion,” ex­plains Joseph.


An­other area where the com­pany is do­ing a Proof of Con­cept us­ing NLP is to process queries in any of the In­dian lan­guages. In this case, the bot or agent can re­spond in English to a query in an In­dian lan­guage and the sys­tem trans­lates it to the lan­guage in which the query was raised by the cus­tomer. The com­pany will start with Hindi, Marathi and Gua­jarati and later ex­tend to all the other lan­guages.

Use of the bot is also be­ing eval­u­ated and ex­tended to email au­toma­tion. When a per­son sends an email ask­ing for say fund value, in nor­mal cir­cum­stances, it will be a re­sponse say af­ter a day or so when the de­tails are fished out. In the pro­posed sys­tem, the cus­tomer will get the fund value al­most in­stantly through a sys­tem gen­er­ated email. The ser­vice is pro­posed to be made avail­able 24x7.


Joseph re­veals that the com­pany has dig­i­tized and brought into a roll­out phase an omni-chan­nel on­board­ing sys­tem. “The motto is on­board­ing in 15 min­utes. Usu­ally in­sur­ance on­board­ing is time con­sum­ing, but we have de­vel­oped this sys­tem us­ing which on­board­ing can be done in 15 min­utes. We are also em­pow­er­ing our agents to be a vir­tual agent. Usu­ally an agent would sit with the cus­tomer, an­a­lyze all the needs - fi­nan­cial or ser­vic­ing needs - and then solve these. A vir­tual agent can at­tend to a cus­tomer on­line and re­motely through any of the chan­nels - web, mo­bile, chat­bot or a con­nected agent - one who will be able to vir­tu­ally ser­vice all the re­quests,” says he.

“Wher­ever there is a hu­man touch point in any ap­pli­ca­tions, we have come to re­al­ize that we would need to build in AI as­sis­tance. For ex­am­ple, we are do­ing a proof con­cept in un­der­writ­ing, doc­u­ment ver­i­fi­ca­tion etc. When an un­der­writer is mak­ing a de­ci­sion, we want to cre­ate a par­al­lel sys­tem whereby a par­al­lel job of un­der­writ­ing would be done. This sys­tem will throw its de­ci­sions and the hu­mans can ei­ther ac­cept it or re­ject it or mod­ify it. Our aim is to have touch­less op­er­a­tions for key process in 2019. The hu­mans will be ap­prov­ing and au­tho­riz­ing the cus­tomer touch­points,” says Joseph.

The com­pany has started em­ployee on­board­ing us­ing a por­tal. It has an HRMS on cloud and this has made the em­ployee on­board­ing fric­tion­less. A mo­bile app and a bot are in its de­ploy­ment, which are in­tended to an­swer all the ques­tions prospec­tive em­ploy­ees would have. Train­ing is also com­pletely dig­i­tized.


Joseph says the com­pany’s brand propo­si­tion is Sim­pler, Smarter, Faster. The com­pany is us­ing a unique NPS sys­tem, which in­volves em­ploy­ees at mul­ti­ple lev­els act­ing as change agents and mak­ing im­prove­ments on an on­go­ing ba­sis in the pro­cesses that have di­rect im­pact on cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence and sat­is­fac­tion. “This trans­for­ma­tional en­gage­ment be­tween cus­tomers and em­ploy­ees is en­abled through a mo­bile-based ap­pli­ca­tion that pro­vides real time feed­back from cus­tomers to the en­tire or­ga­ni­za­tion. The sys­tem has helped us iden­tify mul­ti­ple pain points and process fail­ures that were con­tribut­ing to cus­tomers turn­ing away thus im­pact­ing our cus­tomer re­ten­tion and prof­itabil­ity. Ba­sis the feed­back, we or­ga­nized teams to reach out to the cus­tomers in­stantly to lis­ten to their con­cerns and em­pow­ered them to take de­ci­sions and re­solve cus­tomers is­sues in 48 hours. We then used all the feed­back be­ing re­ceived to make im­prove­ments and proac­tive changes in im­pact­ing pro­cesses. The next phase of im­prove­ment in pro­cesses would be sim­pli­fy­ing our cus­tomer com­mu­ni­ca­tion and aug­ment­ing X-sell to pro­moter cus­tomers,” says he.

Byju Joseph high­lights the virtues of REVA, or Ro­botic En­abled Vir­tual As­sis­tant, which an­swers cus­tomer queries and even un­der­takes trans­ac­tions

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