Mohit Rochlani, Director of Operations and IT, IndiaFirst Life Insurance

The banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) industry has been among the first to leverage information and communications technology (ICT) solutions to digitise operations and streamline processes. Owing to the sensitive and confidential nature of consumer data, data privacy and cybersecurity have become crucial for the efficient functioning of enterprises in the industry. BFSI organisations are stepping up investments to bolster the security of their networks and plug loopholes. Going forward, several emerging technologies such as big data, internet of things (IoT), blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI) are expected to find widespread application in the industry. IT heads of leading BFSI enterprises discuss their strategies, technology trends and the level of cybersecurity readiness in the industry…

What are the key IT and telecom solutions be­ing deployed by your organisation? How has the development of a cashless ecosystem al­tered your IT requirements?

From an IT perspective, the most important solution for any life insurance company is a core life insurance system, which is called the life admin system. The other core system that we use is a CRM system by Microsoft Dynamics. We have also deploy­ed a business transaction management system developed by IBM. These are the three core critical systems we use. There is a certain type of integration among these systems to ensure that the process of service delivery is completely streamlined.

We have been a cashless company for a long time now. Since we are promoted by two banks and most of our business comes through those banks, we have very little cash coming in. Our system is integrated with that of the two banks in such a way that money gets debited directly from a customer’s account and is credited to our account. Therefore, from that perspective, we have been cashless from a very long time. We also have tie-ups with multiple other banks, payment gateways and mo­bile wallets to give customers more flexibility while making payments.

What are your views on the cybersecurity readiness of BFSI companies? What solutions have you deployed to ensure customer data security?

Cybersecurity norms for insurance came around a year and a half back and every company in the sector is in the process of implementing tools related to cybersecurity. In our case, email advanced threat protection is a key part of the plan that we have charted. As per the plan, multiple tools are being implemented, which follow the cybersecurity guidelines of the Insu­rance Regulatory and Development Au­tho­rity (IRDA).

How has the emergence of big data analytics, cloud, IoT and blockchain technology impacted the BFSI industry? Do you use/plan to deploy these technologies?

We have implemented a few analytics tools in our company. In all other cases, it is mostly work in progress for the industry as a whole. For example, a few insurance co­m­­­­panies including IndiaFirst have done a few proof of concepts (PCs) with block­chain to identify fraud. In the coming years, blockchain will definitely be picked up as an area of focus by the industry.

The most important thing is that the entire industry will have to come together to make blockchain successful. To this end, a forum has been provided by the regulator, insurance council and the IRDA for some PCs for blockchain. The forum has started with 13-14 insurance companies and a few PCs have already been done. The next step is to sit with the regulator and chalk out a path forward.

As far as IoT is concerned, discussions are still on regarding use cases in the life insurance industry. While general insurance has picked it up, it will take more time to ascertain whether IoT is useful from the life insurance perspective.

“A key challenge is choosing the right technology that is scalable, time tested and robust.” Mohit Rochlani

What are the key challenges faced while implementing new technologies?

The first challenge is choosing the right technology. We need to choose a technology that is scalable, time tested and robust. We need to ensure that any chosen technology satisfies these criteria. The second challenge is meticulously tracking and monitoring the adoption of the new technology. If its adoption is lacking in any way, then the expected benefits from that technology are lost. A lot of work has to be done to ensure that stakeholders are aware of the benefits of the technology and are actually using it.

What are the key technology trends that will shape the industry in the next few years?

The first trend that will have a major im­pact on the industry is blockchain. Second, I feel a lot more can be done on the mobile platforms that are already in use. Third, I think a lot of AI will come into the picture, be it for process efficiency or improving user experience.