Interviews

POS has provided HDFC Life with a 24X7 selling platform

Thomson
Thomas 
as
the Senior Vice President – Business Systems and Technology & CIO at HDFC
Life brings over eight years of experience in Information and Technology
industry. He started his career in 1993 with Crompton Greaves handling telecom
and networking solutioning for corporates .Subsequently he joined Meganet
Infotech developing software solutions for SME segment. He then joined
Hutchison Max Telecom and was responsible for all customer facing applications.

In
an exclusive interview with IndiaCIOReview, Thomson Thomas talks
about the data-intensive nature of the Indian Insurance Industry and data
security. He also talks about his Point of Sale application, Click2Buy.
Thomas says that click2Buy enabled HDFC Life to attain two basic principles of
Business Process Re-engineering (BPR) viz. ‘First-time-right’ and
‘Straight-through-processing’.

Due
to data-intensive nature of the Indian Insurance Industry, how important is the
role of IT?

All
the private insurers, similar to Banks, understand the value of IT and the
impact that this has on their respective business. Technology will be one
strategic area that will be used to create competitive advantage. The
innovations we see around are proof of the change that technology is
driving.  

Tell
us about the recent solutions that you have applied in HDFC’s IT environment.

With changing market environment and
demanding customer expectations, it was imperative to expel long wait queues,
illegible handwriting, incomplete information, illustration mismatch, multiple
forms etc. POS is a big step towards faster policy processing, improved customer
purchase experience, and increased business productivity.

HDFC Life is the first life insurance
company to have a fully fledged point-of-sale system in India. It is a giant
leap for the insurance industry in the entire country! With this launch the
paradigm has changed, it has moved from the confines of office buildings to
being sold on the move while travelling in remote interiors of India using a
data-card.  

Our Point of Sale application named
Click2Buy is a solution we deployed last year to automate our new business
process. This has proved to be game changer for us. The solution enabled us to
attain two basic principles of Business Process Re-engineering (BPR) viz.
‘First-time-right’ and ‘Straight-through-processing’.  16 macro stages
have been crunched into just 4 stages. There is no scope of back-and-forth or
re-work since all the supporting documents are asked upfront. Days/weeks of
process have been shrunk into matter of minutes and almost 80% of applications
are processed-straight-through.

This is yet another step that HDFC Life
has taken to be closer to the customer. With state of art technology being used
for POS, the entire proposal form filling to processing has become an
effortless activity. 

POS is unique owing to the following
features it has: 

 An online tool which enables
error-free form filling over the internet

• POS is closely integrated with
the underwriting rule-engine where dynamic questions are asked based on the
details entered. This is unlike the traditional approach where the questions
are generic and specific questions have to be asked after scrutiny and other
internal processes.

• Faster conversion of policy hence
the customer gets covered sooner.

• The simplicity of the electronic
web page enables even the least tech-savvy to use the system with comfort. The
system sends an email to the customer communicating the decision or quoting the
medical requirements on submitting the proposal.

• Multiple systems have been integrated
at the backend, however front-end user experiences single screen.

• The sequence of questions is more
logical and interlinked to the answers hence resulting in upfront information/
document gathering.

• POS has resulted in reduction of
errors and cost. It has also provided HDFC Life with a 24X7 selling platform.

The future plan is to encompass the
entire flow from need-based-selling to dematerialized policies. 
HDFC Life has been recognized as a 2013
CIO 100 Award winner for its innovative ‘Point-of- Sale’ tool. This program
recognizes organizations around the world and in India that exemplify the
highest level of operational and strategic excellence in Information
Technology. We have also been recognized as the Celent Model Insurer of Asia
for 2013 for this initiative, which is the highest honor among the 17
technology initiatives which were selected as Model Insurer Component in the
Asia Pacific region. It has also emerged as the winner of the ‘Golden Peacock
Innovative Product / Service Award’

How
important is the data security for insurance companies, as it involves personal
customer information? What are the measures you have undertaken for data
protection?

Data
Protection is one of the highest priorities in HDFC Life and we have multiple
initiatives here.

In
addition to various basic security tools deployed such as Anti Virus, Firewall,
Web Access Control, we have implemented/implementing solutions around Network
and Host DLP, MAM, MDM, Information Rights Management, Identity Access
Management and Privileged Identity Management among others. These are all
around data security. We have also implemented all basic controls such as

• User
Alerts for suspicious email communication to external domain

• USB
Blocking and Monitoring on Desktops and Laptops

• Full
Hard-drive encryption for laptops

• Monitoring,
reporting and actions on defaulters sharing confidential and organizational
information

• Restriction
of access to customer’s details

• Controls
on reports extracts (process implementation, role based access control)

• Data
Download from portals restricted

• Full
Internet Access for users reviewed and revoked

Have
you ever witnessed data explosions?

The
volume has certainly been on an increase as transactions increase and as any
other business we have our peaks as well. At HDFC Life we have so far been able
to manage these effectively. We are now investing in creating a state- of- the-
art enterprise data warehouse and data mining solutions to extract maximum
value out of the data that already exists with us. 

How
do you ensure that IT plans and objectives are aligned with business goals?

The
organization’s strategic themes have been consistent for the last few years and
this has been the foundation for the IT strategy. There is a technology
steering committee and business planning team that works with us and ensures
the alignment.

You
recently deployed ‘Citrix XenDesktop’ desktop virtualization solution. How does
it help in the growth plan of HDFC standard life?

As
mentioned earlier we align with the business strategy, the imperatives here
were increased sales productivity and creating a framework for Virtual Office
and BYOD. 

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