QBE North America exec exports tech strategy globally

Focus targets digitization, innovation and streamlining

QBE North America exec exports tech strategy globally


By Mark Hollmer

Successful people in business are often rewarded with more work, given new responsibilities after proving they can master their existing ones. Such is the case with Ketan Pandit (pictured), QBE North America’s chief information officer.

He began in his current position in January 2017, focused on modernizing and streamlining the various tech systems and processes in QBE North America’s operations. Within two years, executives added some of the Australian-based carrier’s global operations to his portfolio, including sales, marketing, digital marketing and reinsurance systems.

“I feel good about it,” Pandit said during an interview from Mumbai, where the New York-based executive stopped for a brief visit on the way to a QBE meeting in Sydney. “The good work that’s been done by the team in North America is being recognized and we want to replicate those successes across the globe.”

QBE, a general insurer and reinsurer, employs 10,000 people globally, of which 2,500 are based in the company’s North American operations. Pandit made his mark in North America, where he guides the division’s information technology strategy with a focus on both innovation and simplification. His early successes in the division led to greater responsibilities globally, as the company sought to expand his strategy into other lines of business.

“It’s very joyful for me personally, and very satisfying, because it proves that a strategy which was put in place for a specific division can now be applied to the rest of the globe,” Pandit explained.

He first joined QBE in 2015, initially as head of IT strategy, transformation and data, according to his LinkedIn page. Before that, he developed IT at Farmers Insurance Group, with expertise in tech areas including business operations, claims IT, business intelligence and Salesforce, among others.

The job at hand

Pandit cites as major priorities simplifying the company’s technology systems, both internally and externally, and revamping data and analytics. There’s also an ongoing effort focused on migrating to a cloud-first environment for QBE products, and nurturing its ability to be a Software as a Service (SaaS) provider.

“The underlying, underpinning objective obviously is to ensure … our customers – whether they are brokers or end customers – have a very seamless and efficient way of dealing with QBE,” Pandit noted.

Technology is key on all levels, he said, regardless of the line of business.

“If you look at our businesses, whether it’s in specialty lines such as aviation or accident and health, or … property lines … commercial lines, workers’ compensation or commercial property, or the personal lines/renters business that we have, technology is a differentiator in every aspect,” Pandit said. “If you look at insurance, whether it’s in underwriting inspections … claims, whether it’s in straight-through processing, without having the right technology, platform and all of the APIs that we build, it’s next to impossible for our business to sell to and service our customers.”

Technology upgrades also matter because they can help fully realize the use of data and maximize its benefit to business, he said.

Then, now and the future

When Pandit first became chief information officer, he said, the company had dozens of legacy system platforms – as many as 350 or more. Broken down, that included 35 policy administration systems, 26 for claims and 12 for billing. The early road map he and his team came up with was to work with executives to streamline and modernize the disparate systems.

There has certainly been progress. Today, the company has one major claims system, and two for billing – slated to go to a single cloud-based billing system within the next 18 months. He and his team have also worked with executives to reduce policy administration systems down to five, most of which are “modern, cloud-based and digitally enabled.”

QBE North America has achieved 75% to 80% of Pandit and his team’s initial tech modernization roadmap, he said. Over the next year, that number will climb higher as the company finishes a
“simplified ecosystem for the core systems.” That means, in part, moving away from “middleware technologies and point-to-point integrations” into an API-based platform for the company’s internal systems that is now in use. It has worked well so far, Pandit said.

“When you look at our brokers and third-party claims handlers, etc., we’ve got a modern API-based platform to connect as well as communicate and it makes it easier to onboard new agents or new third parties,” he said.

Also on tap – ongoing consolidation and modernization of the company’s data and analytics platform.

“We used to have roughly 15 document management systems all over the place in terms of technology stack,” Pandit said. “Now we have simplified it down to three … and the next step is trying to move it to the cloud.”

Team effort

A team effort made a difference in the company’s initial tech modernization roadmap, Pandit said.

“Coming up with the roadmap idea was mine, and obviously, support from business partners and leaders (helped), but what it requires is a huge team effort across geographies to make it successful,” he said.

A huge team effort will come into play as Pandit and his colleagues’ efforts to streamline and modernize QBE’s technology and processes on a global level come to fruition.

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