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CTO Gaurav Chaudhri on Reliance General Insurance’s multi-cloud strategy 

How Reliance General Insurance’s multi-cloud strategy is helping simplify insurance processes and create new age customer experiences.

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Aanchal Ghatak
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Reliance

Reliance General Insurance Co. Ltd (RGICL) chose a multi-cloud strategy to make use of the greatest features offered by a select group of cloud providers. To increase agility, RGICL chose Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) to run their essential services and applications, allowing their IT personnel to focus on higher-value work.

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In this interview with Dataquest, Gaurav Chaudhri, CTO, RGICL talks about his technology-first approach, and more. Excerpts:

Gaurav Chaudhri min

DQ: What are the tech adoption trends in the insurance industry in India?

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Gaurav Chaudhri: Technology has become the fuel for every industry in the last few years. The Indian general insurance industry has grown at a CAGR of 17% in the last five years (FY16-FY21) and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 15%-16% for the next five years (FY 2021-FY2026). With such a prominent growth projection, the industry is especially required to take the digital leap to ensure continued market share in the coming years. Many companies have already accepted digitization in policy issuance, consumer communication, and risk management, amongst other areas.

Currently, the industry is leveraging a massive amount of data which has led to a better understanding of customer behaviour, needs, and market analysis, resulting in better product offerings for the customer. Chatbots are another powerful technology that the industry highly leverages to communicate for basic information checks. Digitization in underwriting analytics, fraud detection and retention analytics will also play a vital role in the industry for overall service improvement.

DQ: Why does RGICL have a technology-first approach to business?

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Gaurav Chaudhri: Technology has always been at the center of the way we conduct our business with a focus to scale, performing better and continuously innovate. We have also set certain standards and goals which can only be achieved with the support of robust technology. Our workforce, for example, was enabled with an agile working program long before the pandemic disrupted the way we knew life. While the recent times have been challenging, with our technology-led approach, the workforce was able to adjust well to remote working. Our technology-led approach is also reflected in innovations such as NLP-based chatbot, BroBot, which has been a revolutionary tool for efficient customer service.

We are also highly reliant on our tech team, which we look at as critical support for our business. They have been relentlessly innovating and leveraging analytics amongst other emerging technologies to fuel growth. Cloud adoption was imperative for us, given our constant endeavour to achieve better results. Today, we are successfully conducting business in a multi-cloud environment where we secure better results at lower costs. Beyond this, our digital practices include an array of services like customer-centric app called Selfi app, portal for our agents, ease of access to our services digitally - amongst many other such initiatives.

It is because of the success of these and many such projects that we are comfortably increasing our tech capex and continuing to be an innovation leader in the GI industry.

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DQ: How is this helping RGI sustain and expand growth faster?

Gaurav Chaudhri: Being a customer-centric organization, we aim to offer a well-rounded and comprehensive bouquet of products for a better choice. For that, we understand the need for efficiency and therefore have moved our critical services and application on cloud. Our primary aim behind this is to support our team and allow them to spend lesser time on the management of these services and more on innovating.

On-premise data centres also come with many management challenges, which add a layer of non-core capabilities and become a very time-consuming task.

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By leveraging the cloud, we have been able to increase efficiency across the organization and improve overall services and products as well. We have also made all our retail products and services completely digitalized and accessible through our Web portal, dedicated mobile apps, chatbots, WhatsApp and other such digital platforms. We are continuing to use conversational bots along with ML-based image analytics, which has helped us in claims decisions.

DQ: Why has RGICL opted for a multi-cloud strategy?

Gaurav Chaudhri: Being a technology-first business, we understood the nuances of the cloud and the benefits of its implementation. Soon into our cloud journey, we realized we wanted better scalability, avoid single-vendor lock-in and drive better results on our cloud investment. Given our goals, multi-cloud indeed is the better strategy for us. We wanted to cherry-pick the right vendors for different workloads and applications without any compromises to our processes. There isn’t any doubt about the fact that certain workloads work better on different clouds, and therefore we picked best-in-class. Making this cloud-smart move has offered us better flexibility leading to an overall improvement in organizational efficiency and much better cloud economics.

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DQ: Why did RGI select OCI, and what specific/measurable business benefits have you realized?

Gaurav Chaudhri: When we were selecting a cloud provider, our primary requirement was to have a suite of products and services that have been built for cloud-native applications. Oracle offered just that and proved to be extremely easy to adapt to. Oracle also offered universal credits, which has helped us a lot by offering us the flexibility of choosing different tools. 

DQ: What are your growth plans for 2022?

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Gaurav Chaudhri: Millennials and GenZ will be the dominant buyers of insurance products. Our endeavour is to focus on creating more intelligent and scalable platforms to cater to the dynamic needs of the generation. 

Digitalization will largely focus on smarter and scalable customer interfaces leveraging Data and AI/ML to create “cognitive customer engagement.”

DQ: Elaborate the tech Innovation roadmap of RGICL.

Gaurav Chaudhri: We will continue to focus API-based ready-to-go architecture, intelligent automation, and a microservices-based ecosystem. Largely, the focus will be on creating customer-centric journeys. The current ecosystem is largely product-centric and lacks the strength and intelligence to cater to the needs of new generation buyers. The near future will see a rapid demand for AI-based customer journeys, IoT, Automated Underwriting, Cognitive chatbots, Smart Risk management and innovative products.

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