A cloud-first approach to digital transformation

New business model especially relevant in a post-pandemic world, says expert

A cloud-first approach to digital transformation


By Gabriel Olano

Digital transformation has never been as important as it is today. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused businesses in virtually all sectors to rethink their processes and adapt to new situations such as remote work and decentralised operations.

According to Sandeep Pandey (pictured), chief technology officer of FWD Group, adopting a cloud-centric model is one of the ways the Hong Kong-headquartered insurer is able to create value for its customers and navigate the volatile business environment.

“Our cloud-first strategy aims to rapidly enable our business growth aspirations through moving all data and applications to the cloud to reduce our reliance on current on-premise data centres,” Pandey told Insurance Business.

“Clearly, all this has become more relevant – and vital in some cases – to both our customers and employees during the pandemic, as it provides convenience for users to access services from anywhere, anytime, virtually from any device. We can also quickly push out new workflows and the cloud allows self-service capabilities for our markets, as well as the convenience of on-the-fly process and configuration changes.”

The technology, he said, provides FWD with agility, innovation, scalability and resilience across its front-end, middle and back-end operations.

“In the long run, cloud-based solutions are critical for us to react quicker to market needs, create self-service solutions for businesses and provide sandboxes for experimentation and innovation.”

However, Pandey cautioned that insurers should still be mindful while embarking on digital transformation initiatives. Decision-makers must keep in mind that all changes must have a meaningful impact on the business, and that transformation is not the end goal. Rather, it is a means to provide customers and employees the best possible experience, leading to sustainable and long-term success.

With the massive shift brought about by the pandemic, Pandey sees insurers across the industry are ramping up their IT infrastructure.

“The IT priorities for the future are clear – our industry needs to boost efficiencies through digitisation to streamline the claims process, while using big data responsibly to predict and analyse customer behaviour for better engagement and service provision,” he said. “The pandemic has drastically changed how we interact with customers. We are moving towards using AI to automate and streamline the entire insurance process around acceptance, claims, policy admin and self-service in order to both respond quickly and accurately to what our customers want as well as providing them with what they really need.”

Social media also plays a vital role in digital transformation, as it has a huge influence in marketing and product design, allowing for easier gathering of feedback to identify current gaps in products and services.

“It may not be a surprise that new insurtech solutions will provide new approaches to underwriting risk and predicting losses. In particular, we’ve seen a significant shift to sophisticated risk prevention models, where data is now collected from different [Internet of Things] sensors and devices, including wearables, of which they cross-match across different data sources to create a more holistic ‘lifestyle’ modelling of a user’s risk profile, so that insurance products are personalised and curated with more accurate risk assessment.”

To help insurance professionals and decision-makers achieve digital transformation in their firms, Pandey offered the following tips:

Create a transformation story – Any digital transformation should start with a story before getting into the nitty gritty.

Engage a tech-savvy leadership team that welcomes changes – It’s vital to have a tech-savvy leadership team that understands the power of technology and welcomes challenges and changes on the digital front. At FWD, we have benefited hugely from having a forward-thinking and open-minded leadership team that has helped drive our digital-first approach.

Evaluate your technology transformation regularly – Any digital transformation plan should be well-planned ahead of execution and it helps to regularly track progress on the technology front to ensure specific objectives are being met.

Use technology to work smarter – Technology should help you to be more productive by working smarter, not harder. Technology should not become an extra burden to your leadership teams, your employees and most of all your customers.

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