ICICI Lombard can absorb seismic shifts in the economy and still grow thanks to its enterprise architects.
Gulati’s architects have integrated business processes with technology applications so seamlessly that it’s lent agility and flexibility to the business.Lombard went from handling two million policies to four million policies a year, it has been able to maintain the same level of manpower
Importance of re-engineering business processesRole of enterprise architecture in strengthening business
Anuj Gulati, director, ICICI Lombard General Insurance, was optimistic that his team of enterprise architects will help ICICI Lombard ride through the slowdown, Gulati insists architects are indispensable, especially now. “They function as a business-to-technical liaison and integrate the architectural stovepipes of business, information, application, and technology. Architects give an organization the flexibility to configure products and processes thus reducing time-to-market.
Our ability to handle this scale of transactions is only possible because of our architecture
His architects have integrated business processes with technology applications so seamlessly that it’s lent agility and flexibility to the business. Earlier it took six months to set up the entire administration and claims services for a new policy – today, it takes less than 90 days. That gave them the ability to be the first to launch a Secure Mind policy, which covers three months worth of EM Is for people that have suddenly lost their jobs. The policy was introduced in January 2009 – quick turnaround given that mainstream Indian media started covering job losses only in the second week of October. Gulati also says that his architects have driven up efficiency, contained costs, ensured far more data integrity across ICICI Lombard’s architecture, and facilitated automation and the integration of processes. Since its inception in 2001, the Mumbai-headquartered insurance company has been making waves. It’s architecture has also helped the company build on its thrust areas: superior service at every customer touch point and a comprehensive and quality portfolio. How it pioneered weather insurance is a case in point; it’s the sort of innovation that will come handy during a slowdown. Their business processes are defined in a way they deliver on the strategic objectives through technology, says Gulati, who is also the company’s IT head. That’s why, they decided to invest in an enterprise architecture program from the start. ICICI Lombard’s enterprise architecture program required them to marry their strategic objectives with their business processes and the underlying technology apps. ICICI Lombard’s management decided to create a team of four to five people. They would serve as a “fulcrum” around which various projects would revolve. “The EA team comprises a combination of business and technology experts empowered internally with need-based external expertise,” says Gulati..
While most companies in the BFSI sector battle ‘dirty data’, ICICI Lombard maintains one system of record for a type of transaction. And that reflects in their hardware and software. “If you do not duplicate the storage of data, applications can effectively communicate with each other and you get higher integration across these processes. And when you avoid duplication, you automatically save on resources. It’s a significant benefit,” says Gulati. The architect team is empowered to ensure that new initiatives are in keeping with the architectural roadmap of the organization. It ensures that business processes are adequately integrated with the technology architecture so that the organization consistently delivers on its service parameters. In its first five years, the number of policies the private insurer distributed grew from 10,000 in a month to 10,000 in a day. It’s growth that ICICI Lombard soaked up easily thanks to their architects, says Gulati. It’s flexible IT architecture also enabled the company to broaden its footprint. IT expanded from 30 offices to 400 offices, as it grew from nothing to Rs 3,300 crore in 2008. “Our ability to handle this scale of transactions is only possible because of the architecture we have,” says Gulati.
Our ability to handle this scale of transactions is only possible because of our architecture.
Traditionally, a customer would either visit a branch or be helped by an agent. Today, says Gulati they can use a Web-based platform to buy a policy themselves online and renew it via their mobile phones. “We also allow our customers to buy our policies seamlessly through our partner websites. The EA s have helped us forge partnerships with the right distributors and develop technology-led delivery mechanisms,” says Gulati. And as ICICI Lombard went from handling two million policies to four million policies a year, it has been able to maintain the same level of manpower – and there’s room for a significant percentage more without increasing staff. “The enterprise architecture they have designed has helped us scale up in nonlinear fashion,” says Gulati. In a market like today, that contribution is considerable. “Given that general insurance penetration accounts for 0.6 percent of the country’s GDP, the growth potential in this industry is immense,” says Gulati. “We intend to leverage our enterprise architecture to tap this opportunity. Our architects can give us an edge over competitors. Its one thing to deliver a product and it’s a completely different thing to have a robust architecture in the back end to deliver it, ” says Gulati