Originally published at: https://www.expresscomputer.in/news/work-from-home-has-resulted-in-taking-speedy-decisions-byju-joseph-future-generali-life-insurance/60691/
As soon as the lockdown was announced, the top priority was to continue with the operational stability. In that direction, the CIO’s office had the opportunity to prove the value that it can bring to business and making Work from Home (WFH) possible was just the first step. “In under seven days after the imposition of lockdown, we made sure the last of the employees had the necessary IT infrastructure provisioned with – in the form of VPN, VDI setup to continue to WFH,” informs Byju Joseph, CIO, Future Generali Life Insurance.
However, the WFH model has its own set of challenges – connectivity, secured connectivity in terms of both the security of the employee device as well as the customer data he is accessing, if that is the case. “Future Generali used the VDI infrastructure to provide secured connectivity to the employees. Be it their own device or the company provided device. Also, all the compute happened at the server level,” informs Joseph.
WFH also involves allowing employees to interact with multiple stakeholders with collaboration tools. The ‘Microsoft Teams’ tool was implemented about seven months back. “The adoption until March 20, 2020 was just about 12-18 percent. By March 23-24, after the lockdown was announced, it shot up to 100 percent,” states Joseph. The employees started self-learning the tools and also adopted it actively, whereas pre-COVID, inspite of adopting various training models, the adoption was growing at a lukewarm pace. This was just the primary stage of the acceptance.
The salesforce started using teams for engaging with the customers, and even to the extent of conducting business transactions on the tool. “This has been possible because of a multi-pronged integration of various tools with Microsoft Teams. The various applications, IT infra, workforce management and business processes have been integrated with Microsoft teams,” says Joseph. The IT team also got good support from Operations and other functions.
The adoption of a digital-only working model has resulted in making speedy decisions and most of the communication has moved to video and chat. The usage of email has reduced drastically.
A 360-degree digital delivery platform was developed, to help the agents all over India to carry out everyday business activities, without having to move out of their current locations. What is further noteworthy, is the total integration of all the existing digital platforms used by agents, at one place. Thus, simplifying the whole process making it smarter to work with and thereby achieving faster fulfilment. Several digital tools were devised, for recruitment of agents and distributors to sell policies and claim settlement. Over 93% of new customers acquired during the crisis period have been done digitally. In Q4 CY 2019, this was close to 60%. The investments made in building a robust backend infrastructure helped in swiftly moving to WFH. This was well before the onset of COVID-19.
Robust backend supports WFH
Future Generali has ported over 65-70 percent of the applications on cloud. The rest of the legacy Infrastructure is still run on-premise. All the applications are hosted on a private cloud with a kubernetes kind of applications management solution. A hybrid cloud strategy has been adopted. Secondly, a COVID crisis team was constituted comprising of one senior executive each from every function, who was tagged with the concerned executive from the IT infrastructure team, to look into the nitty-gritties of providing access to the respective employees and making sure they operate in a secured manner; laptops, desktops, mobile devices are procured for them; providing a stable internet infrastructure that works close to consistently from a home environment. “Security was paramount. The necessary security encryption certificates were provided to each employee, to be used on the VDI platform. The reason was to establish a surety that the source device connected is an identified device,” says Joseph.
None from the IT team has visited the office since the lockdown. Even the call centre executives are operating from home from their personal devices. “Initially, there was hesitance to WFH but now people are loving it and many of them have migrated to their native place and are working from there,” says Joseph.