Digitization Enhances Business Outcomes and Customer Experience
Ekhlaque Ahmed Bari, Executive Vice President and Head-IT, Maxlife Insurance explains the company’s systematic digital transformation plan and progress and why this is where the industry is headed.
Shantheri Mallaya Jul 29th 2016

What are your priority areas for digital transformation in your organization and how has the journey taken shape?

The primary focus area for Maxlife Insurance is in setting in motion, a steady process of digital transformation, meaning to digitize the business in three ways –

  1. Digital customer:  Bring the digitally native customer to use our products and offerings through more state-of-art means such as mobile.
  2. Digital seller: If you see, 50% of the organization is into selling. So, we are empowering the seller, the agent, with tools (internally).
  3. Digital employee – Our intranet is still legacy, so we are looking at whether employees can move to using apps or continue to use the desktop, and how much of the transition is actually relevant.

The second focus area would be in building capabilities for digital transformation. The key areas we see in this are in augmenting the UI, UX capability to enhance customer experience.

We will also be looking at creating digital engineering. We intend to hire developers, through which we will be reversing our policy till date which has been to outsource development work. We have been hiring architects as well.

The next step would be to look at getting data scientists and psychologists. Our website is a traditional website, where the site allows customers to navigate through the products. We believe a psychologist might be able to look at things differently; he would be able to analyse and distinguish between customers who know what to buy and how much to buy and those who don’t know what and how much to buy. The second set of potential customers are more likely to leave a lead and engage with us.

How is digital transformation impacting business outcomes and enhancing customer experience at Maxlife Insurance?

We have been witnessing significant changes in each of these focus areas.

In insurance, we see a lot of Research Online Purchase Offline (ROPO) in our industry, so it is a bit complicated. Connecting these digitally native and savvy customers to our advisors is critical. The digitally native customers, essentially our target age group between 25 and 45 years, is being given a seamless experience across channels – website, mobile etc.

Secondly the digital seller’s productivity has enhanced. To illustrate an example, if a potential customer in a city such as Nagpur would have visited our website, the records can be sent to the local advisor. The advisor is galvanized into action, and engages with the customer, increasing the chances of conversion. 

At an internal employee level, we hire 40,000 to 50000 advisors every year, so digitization has percolated down to screening of candidates. We have also introduced gamification into the induction of ABFs. Essentially, our objective is that our workforce should imbibe the digital world.  


Which technology trends do you foresee having the maximum impact in your organization over the next 3-5 years?

Well, firstly mobility will make a significant difference.  All enterprise applications, be it CRM, PeopleSoft and the like, will be ultimately rendered on the mobile, therefore enabling employees to make work anytime, anywhere, any device.

Research and trends clearly forecast that nearly 50 percent of the employees will be using most or all of their core apps from the mobile 3-5 years down the line. Mobile is replacing things which exist and yet to come to the market.  We will be leveraging mobile more than what we are able to, currently.

Secondly, AI and robotics. So, bots will be here to stay, and will be used in 2 important ways:

-          Improve conversion rate: Bots will complement advisors, and will be trained to be a customer’s best advisor. 

-          Reduce operational cost – Bots will take over and reduce repetitive tasks. Bots will do underwriting; AI will bring the human element

Thirdly, the Internet of Things (IoT) will be a game changer, not so much in life insurance currently, and more in health, property, auto and auto insurance. Interesting use cases around this can be and are being built.  For instance, reading into the fitness schedule of customers and configuring the premium accordingly. Or if one can get data and access to the speeding levels of a car driver, then the dynamics of the car insurance changes accordingly and the like.

Having said that, it is evident life insurance will not be left far behind in catching up.


How long have you been associated with VMware and how has VMware’s technologies helped in your digital transformation plan?

We have been associated with VMware for about a year and half. VMware has implemented the datacentre technologies, VDI and MDM solutions.  

The VMware DC Suite is helping us build a SDDC that will be improving uptime of apps, performance, improving scalability, elasticity and flexibility for surge in workloads.  So, the security is a lot software defined, wherein one can incorporate logical walls. Overall, there is a reduction in DC cost per unit, even if my DC cost is up – meaning I can realize the value out of the investment through increase in business and outcomes.

Through the MDM solution the potential threat of data leakage is reduced. The info security posture has improved.

Through VDI, we have seen that there is no physical CPU in the 200-300 locations of the organization. That in itself is quite a transformation in the remote office –central office dynamics. Through central monitoring, data movement can be traced effortlessly; internet traffic gets handled at the DC itself.  We will definitely be seeing more benefits playing out as we progress in the digitization plan.


How do you view the changing role of the CIO in the changing IT landscape and marketplace? What are the best practices recommended for your peers?

The chief principle of an IT leader would be to inculcate digital thinking and change management within an organization. In a set up where a system administrator would be used to the era of ERP and core systems, the CIO has a task ahead to bring the transformation.

His focus should be around upskilling, reskilling the IT team for digital wave of transformation. Secondly, change comes from the CIO moving away from being a mere IT manager to an IT change manager, in not having his tasks cut out, but to create and push his strategy ahead in collaboration with all teams and the management. This is essential, and quite fundamental to any sort of change that can be brought about.