Published on 05-Aug-2010
Validated on 05 Dec 2012
"Our vision of self-service as a way to enhance our growth strategy has proven highly successful. With IBM’s technology, insight and continued support, we’re building the foundation for long-term market leadership." - C. Mohan
Reliance Life Insurance Corporation
Business Process Management (BPM), C-Suite Framework, Service Oriented Architecture, Smarter Planet, Social Business Framework
The ability to achieve rapid customer growth was an important factor in the emergence of one recent market entrant, Mumbai-based Reliance Life Insurance, and effective strategic management of its growth set Reliance apart from its competitors.
To translate market potential into new customers, Reliance and its peers needed to establish the business infrastructure — the channels, people, processes andsystems — required to handle the influx. These companies also neededto develop the right mix of life insurance products to align with diverse customer needs.
Reliance Life Insurance launched a comprehensive self-service portal solution that has enabled it to expand rapidly and cost effectively in India’s burgeoning life insurance market, and gain market insights into the kinds of offerings Indian consumers are looking for. Getting the right products and features to market 50 percent faster enabled Reliance to emerge as an innovator in India’s life insurance industry.
● Reduced time required to develop new services and features by more than 50 percent ● Reduced customer/agent service costs nearly 50 percent ● Saved millions of dollars in capital expenditures for branch and call center build-out ● Achieved 100 percent YOY average growth in new business premium (NBP) within four years ● Doubled market share to become #4 (based on NBP)
Gaining the agility and insight to sense and respond to customer needs better, faster and more profitably than competitors
Reliance Life Insurance launched a comprehensive self-service portal solution that has enabled it to expand rapidly and cost effectively in India’s
burgeoning life insurance market, and gain market insights into the kinds of offerings Indian consumers are looking for. By optimizing its product portfolio, Reliance was able to double its market share and become one of the most competitive companies. Getting the right products and features to market 50 percent faster enabled Reliance to emerge as an innovator in India’s life insurance industry.
● Reduced time required to develop new services and features by more than 50 percent
● Reduced customer/agent service costs nearly 50 percent
● Saved millions of dollars in capital expenditures for branch and call center build-out
● Achieved 100 percent YOY average growth in new business premium (NBP) within four years
● Doubled market share to become #4 (based on NBP)
● IBM WebSphere® Business Modeler
● IBM InfoSphere™ DataStage®
● IBM WebSphere Integration Developer
● IBM InfoSphere QualityStage™
● IBM WebSphere Portal
● IBM WebSphere Process Server
● IBM WebSphere MQ
● IBM Insurance Process Acceleration (IPA) Framework
●IBM Global Technology Services –Integrated Technology Services
Smarter insurance: Optimizing the product portfolio to maximize market share
- Instrumented - The Lifeline portal solution is integrated with Reliance’s core insurance systems in near-real time, ensuring accurate and consistent portal data.
- Interconnected - The portal’s real-time integration with core systems provides agents with a unified, cross-sectional view of their customers’ portfolios.
- Intelligent - Storing all customer and transaction information within a consolidated data warehouse gives product developers and market planners insights into which product offerings are most effective and which are not.
Sometimes a combination of conditions and events can come together to create an ideal—even once-in-a-lifetime—market opportunity. Earlier in this decade, only one in five insurable Indians owned a life insurance policy, thus creating a huge reservoir of untapped demand for India’s life insurance providers. Demographic forces such as the aging of the Indian population and rising per capita income had begun to change the way people thought about life insurance, bringing the undercurrents of demand closer to the surface.
India’s deregulation of its life insurance industry helped unleash that pent-up demand. On the supply side, a market once dominated by a monopoly was soon crowded with no fewer than 20 providers, each determined to get its share of a flood of new policies.
Gearing up for growth
The ability to achieve rapid customer growth was an important factor in the emergence of one recent market entrant, Mumbai-based Reliance Life Insurance, and effective strategic management of its growth set Reliance apart from its competitors. To translate market potential into new customers, Reliance and its peers needed to establish the business infrastructure—the channels, people, processes andsystems—required to handle the influx. These companies also needed to develop the right mix of life insurance products to align with diverse customer needs.
Reliance saw channel strategy as perhaps the most decisive and fundamental business issue it needed to address to achieve its ambitious growth goals. Reliance recognized that physical branches would be an essential part of the mix, but had to figure out how many were necessary. As a company in high-growth mode, Reliance was intent on preserving capital and minimizing its ongoing operating expenses. Making self-service a core part of the channel mix accomplished both goals, because it reduced Reliance’s need to invest in branch and call-center facilities, staffing and other associated infrastructure. Beyond low-cost growth, Reliance also saw self-service as a way to gain the advantages of increased speed to market and agility over more branch-dependent competitors.
Breaking new ground in self-service
The solution was a self-service portal called Lifeline. Designed to maximize its versatility, the Lifeline portal delivers services to all of Reliance’s key stakeholder groups, from customers and prospects to the company’s employees and agents. The portal provides customers with a one-stop experience through which they can research and purchase insurance plans, manage their portfolios and pay their premiums. Agents can use the platform to get a unified, cross-sectional view of their customers’ portfolios and gain the insights to make intelligent cross-selling recommendations that provide optimal coverage for customers.
Reliance’s market share has doubled since introducing Lifeline, making it one of the market’s five top companies. One important element is the flexibility enabled by its SOA-based infrastructure. Using the components of the IBM Insurance Process Acceleration Framework, Reliance and IBM designed the solution as a series of composite business services, connected across an enterprise service bus (based on IBM WebSphere® Process Server and IBM WebSphere MQ). When Reliance wants to introduce a new service or extend an existing service to a new audience, its developers can configure much of the new service by repurposing existing building-block services (such as an address change or a fund switch), reducing the time and cost of developing new services by 50 percent or more.
In addition to speed, realizing the market’s full growth potential also requires insurance providers to optimize their product portfolio to ensure they have the right mix of products, options and features. Keeping this alignment is a challenge in any market because needs are always changing. Through the intelligence analytics enabled by the Lifeline solution, Reliance has outpaced its competitors in its ability to draw these insights. Storing all of its customer and transaction information within a consolidated data warehouse enables it to see the big picture as to which product offerings are successful and which are not. In the case of linked insurance products, for example, Reliance can see at a glance what types of asset allocations its customers prefer and make changes accordingly. Because it gives product developers increased visibility into customer trends, the Lifeline solution gives Reliance a powerful market intelligence tool whose insights have helped optimize its product offerings.
Taking advantage of speed and agility
When Reliance launched its most recent market expansion plan—focused on India’s rural and micro insurance segments—it had an advantage as it sought to tap those segments’ vast potential. Reliance’s advanced self-service capabilities enabled it to move faster than its competitors in addressing these segments, because it was not bound by the need to invest in additional branch and call-center infrastructure as a prerequisite to action. As Reliance continues its expansion, the Lifeline solution will lessen both the costs and risks of its growth. In just the first year after the introduction of Lifeline, operating expenses decreased by nearly US$770,000.
Reliance’s stated goal is to rise to number one within the next few years. According to C. Mohan, the company’s advanced self-service capabilities represent an important addition to its competitive arsenal. “Our vision of self-service as a way to enhance our growth strategy has proven highly successful,” says Mohan. “With IBM’s technology,insight and continued support, we’re building the foundation for long-term market leadership.”
The Inside Story: Getting There
The impetus for change
Going the self-service route was the idea of the chief technology officer, C. Mohan, who also served as the project’s main champion within the company and a key technology visionary. The key element of that vision was to push the boundaries of self-service in the Indian life insurance market, where such solutions were not common at the time. At the outset of the project, Mohan issued this challenge to the solution-development team, which consisted of IBM Global Technology Services and internal Reliance staff. “My job was to inspire people to think differently about self-service, to go beyond what any other [life insurance] companies in India have done,” says Mohan.
Selling the growth benefits
Before selling the project internally, Mohan directed his internal IT team to create an initial blueprint of the solution that he could use to demonstrate its capabilities to key line of business (LOB) stakeholders, including the CEO. The value proposition focused on the Opex and Capex advantages of self-service over an equivalent expansion in branch locations and call-center facilities. But for an LOB audience that placed a premium on speed to market, one IT-related benefit—the reusability of modular IT services enabled by the use of an SOA approach to designing the solution—was
especially resonant. “In a hyper-growth market [like India], the ability to get a new offering to market in half the time can translate directly into greater market share,” Mohan explains. “That made the benefit of SOA something everyone on the business side understood.”
“My job was to inspire people to think differently about self-service, to go beyond what any other [life insurance] companies in India have done.” — C. Mohan, chief technology officer, Reliance Life Insurance Company Limited
For more information
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Products and services used
IBM products and services that were used in this case study.
WebSphere Business Modeler, WebSphere Integration Developer, WebSphere Portal, WebSphere Process Server, WebSphere MQ, InfoSphere DataStage, InfoSphere QualityStage, Rational Application Developer
GTS Integrated Technology Services, GTS ITS Middleware: Middleware Implementation Services, GTS Data Center Services
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