Goutam Dutta, Chief Information and Digital Officer, Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance, discusses how technology is driving innovation and new efficiencies in the insurance sector.
The insurance sector is changing and insurers today are exploring product innovations that transcend the tradition. Goutam Datta, Chief Information and Digital Officer, Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance, explains how insurance products have transformed over the years and how digital platforms will bring in new efficiencies.
Insurance is an ancillary industry of the banking sector. What challenges do you face from a business standpoint?
In the last two years or so Bajaj Allianz Life’s positioning has changed from benefits accruing from death or accident to living benefits for customers. This change in outlook is gradually transforming insurance from a push product to a pull product. We are now seeing the traction for these offerings on our online channels. For customers insurance is also no longer just a protection against eventualities, but an instrument of investment to achieve major life goals. Our challenge is to ensure that customers view our products as a preferred investment instrument to achieve their life goals. This is where we are making a difference and this has become a very effective proposition for us.
Is this the direction you see product innovation in the insurance sector heading in the days to come?
Earlier, any product innovation in this sector was limited to perhaps benefits provided on death or after an unfortunate incident. The innovation is now moving to providing living benefit. That is the principle driving product innovation in recent times. Consequently, really interesting products are being developed. For example, Goal Assure from Bajaj Allianz Life, a ULIP that is becoming very popular on online platforms. Bajaj Allianz Life Goal Assure is the first-of-its-kind new-age ULIP in the industry that returns the mortality charges to the customer at maturity if they stay invested till the policy term. This product introduced another unique feature called Return Enhancer, where if the customer chooses to receive the maturity benefit in instalments, an addition of 0.5 per cent of each due instalment will be added to the customer’s fund value. Further Goal Assure’s regular charges are now less or at par with other similar market products. This is changing the equation from push to pull. To help our customers achieve their various life goals, we have introduced other new-age innovate products like Bajaj Allianz Life LongLife Goal which provides a tax-free retired life income, Health Care Goal that covers 36 critical illnesses or POS Goal Suraksha that comes with guaranteed benefits, quick issuance and no medicals. These are helping us provide better value to customers.
The game is changing thanks to digital platforms. How do you ensure personalisation of products?
One has to see personalisation in a contextual manner. For example, you drive a car that has a few features tweaked to your liking and because of the way you use them you see it as being personalised. When you are personalising an investment product the core proposition of the product stays intact, while certain attributes can be changed based on customer preferences.
Personalisation within the life insurance industry has been there right from the start. If you look at the way premiums are designed, how returns are calculated, they differ based on gender, age profile, the size of investment, etc.
Today, we are on an interactive journey within the life goals space where we are driving people to not just invest to save tax or because they have some money saved up. We are engaging with our customers before the buying stage itself. We ask all the relevant questions and then recommend a product. Also, because our fund performance over the last 10 years has been good we have been able to provide our customers better and stronger returns.
What role is IT playing in helping you innovate?
Technology is transforming all aspects of our business and the value we offer to our customers and partners. For instance we have one of the most used chatbots in the industry called BOING, which has tremendous capabilities. The same platform takes care of customer, employee and insurance consultants’ queries. Since its launch BOING has had over 3 lakh unique visitors, and is available in 5 languages. Our online platforms are extended to our sales managers as well as our partners, who include individual insurance consultants and bank partners. We have the industry’s best online platform INS-tab that helps the sales force to facilitate business sourcing, issuance, renewal and servicing through tablet and smartphones, even in offline mode. We’re the first ones in the industry to introduce a ‘branch-in-a-box’ concept Mosambee to provide virtual branch services to customers at their doorstep. To take care of our insurance consultants’ business needs, like information about products, customers’ portfolio, along with information on performance payouts and commissions, we introduced a comprehensive digital app called iSmart. More than 4,000 consultants are using this app on a daily basis for their various requirements. We will further keep innovating in this space to have an end-to-end digital environment where all human to system interactions are digitised to create the right kind of value for every stakeholder.
What new technologies are you looking to deploy this year?
Our journey is continuous in terms of upgrading and enhancing digital platforms. We don’t get complacent and strive to pack a lot of features and functionality into our products from time to time. Modernisation is a continuous journey. It’s the same with the experience and intelligence space. This lead to numerous projects every year so that we continue to remain ahead of the curve.