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Network Support: PNB MetLife streamlines operations through system upgrade

May 01, 2014

PNB MetLife India Insurance Company Limited is a joint venture of MetLife International Holdings, Inc. (MIHI), Punjab National Bank Limited (PNB), Jammu and Kashmir Bank Limited, M. Pallonji and Company Private Limited and other private investors. Established in 2001, the venture was previously known as MetLife India Insurance Company Limited (MetLife India) and was rebranded as PNB MetLife India Insurance in February 2013.

 

The company provides a wide range of protection and retirement products through financial advisers and multiple bank partners. PNB MetLife relies on a strong telecom infrastructure to connect with its customers and other stakeholders.

A look at the company’s legacy system and current telecom infrastructure…

Legacy infrastructure

Having started operations in 2001, the insurance company’s telecom infrastructure was laid out in line with its aim to be a regional player. However, following the company’s growing nationwide presence, PNB MetLife recognised the need to upgrade its telecom infrastructure.  

Since 2007, the company has introduced several changes on the IT front – both in terms of infrastructure and applications. On the IT infrastructure front, PNB MetLife set up a data centre and established a wide area network (WAN) to connect its new branches which were opened between 2007 and 2009. On the application side, the company moved to a new policy administration system. During the shift to a new telecom set-up, the insurance company introduced process imaging and workflow applications to ensure that each of its branches was equipped to handle huge volumes of business.

Existing infrastructure

At present, the insurance company is using CSC’s technology platform, LIFE/Asia, for its core insurance services. In addition, it has deployed other banking solutions including Aura (Automated Underwriting Rules Engine), Swift (End to End Imaging and Workflow solution) and MetSmart (Bank facing solution) to support critical functions. According to Gaurav Sharma, chief operating officer, PNB MetLife, “The core policy and administrative system, LIFE/Asia facilitates on-boarding of customer information as well as transactions.” Meanwhile, Aura provides insurance agents and distributors complete details regarding the kind of cover that can be extended to customers. Further, the solution helps MetLife officials take informed decisions on the privileges that can be extended to insurance agents who have a strong track record. Data generated by Aura enables the company to take informed decisions on allowing an insurance agent to offer a higher mediclaim limit to a prospective client.

Swift reduces the turnaround time for generating business by the workforce. The solution helps scan documents and images submitted by a customer at one of the company’s offices and feeds the data to a central database, from where it can be accessed and processed by all connected branches of PNB MetLife. Meanwhile, MetSmart is an interface between PNB MetLife branches and PNB branches. The solution ensures that PNB bank employees have access to PNB MetLife’s insurance products and policy holder details, and are, therefore, in a position to facilitate customer transactions at the bank branches. About 60,000 PNB employees have access to the MetSmart solution. It has helped in providing insurance services from the company’s 150 offices to over 7,500 branches of PNB.

The company uses WAN to meet its networking needs. It sources leased lines from two operators – Bharti Airtel and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited. At some branches, PNB MetLife is using telecom services offered by Vodafone India. The network bandwidth varies from 128 kbps to 256 kbps at its branch offices depending on the volume of business. The network is used for email and intranet; running production applications like LIFE/Asia, Aura and the management information system; generating performance reports; etc. PNB MetLife’s data centre in Bengaluru is connected through WAN with its 150 offices as well as PNB branches. Further, PNB employees can access the insurance company’s systems on a real-time basis. In terms of mobility applications, the insurance company is using an SMS-based service for providing policy-linked details and other updates to its customers.

Challenges and benefits

While upgrading its network, the company faced challenges related to selection of vendors, change management and budget optimisation. The network transformation has helped PNB MetLife in improving its volume handling capacity and reducing support and maintenance costs.

Sharma believes that going forward, customers’ buying decisions are likely to be influenced by the mobile experience with regard to banking/insurance services. Therefore, it will be critical to come up with applications which will help potential clients evaluate various products and services. The availability of big data has increased the potential for assessing customers’ transactional behaviour and offering relevant financial services. Over the next few years, PNB MetLife would focus on mobility and big data applications to target customers with the right products and services.

 
 

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