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HDFC Ergo and IBM to jointly setup data lab in India

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MUMBAI: General insurance company HDFC Ergo and technology major IBM have jointly set up a lab in India to run deep analytics on customer data and subsequently develop customised solutions to improve business efficiency and profitability.

The ‘IBM Garage’ with a team of 25 experts, including data scientists, technology architects and design engineers from IBM and experts from HDFC Ergo, are working on various test cases aimed at improving customer experience. Their first project, which has been underway for two months, is to develop an automated real-time email-communication solution for customer queries and reduce turn-around time on redressals, top executives from both companies told ET.

“We are looking to improve speed, agility, consistency and quality of our communication channels,” said Mehmood Mansoori, member of executive management, HDFC ERGO. “The idea is to leverage IBM Watson technology to improve the overall experience and interface as we seek to improve our digital presence.”

Neither IBM nor HDFC Ergo disclosed the investment figure for setting up the lab, even as the insurance subsidiary of HDFC called it “significant”.

IBM Watson is a response-generating software developed by the New York-based IT giant, which using machine-learning and artificial intelligence (AI-ML) capabilities can create real-time custom responses and automate call-centre processes.

“There are four to five layers of intervention in processing a customer complaint and giving a standard response, we want to deliver a full-blown solution without these layers.” said Kamal Singhani, managing partner, IBM India and South Asia. “We would run analytic models on large amounts of data footprints generated by customers to get a deeper understanding.”

HDFC Ergo said the development is in line with their broader strategy of digitising operations to bring down operating cost. “Currently, about 65% of our post-issuance servicing is done online. Through this partnership we want to increase that to 85% by the end of the fiscal,” said Mansoori.

The third-largest private general insurance company has a customer base of about 11 million and issued nearly 8.5 million policies last year, according to Mansoori. In spite of having a wide network of 15,000 agents, almost 95% of these policies were issued through paperless and automated streams, he said.

“Chaining market dynamics have caused us to change our business model. We recognise ourselves more as a fintech now than a traditional insurance player,” Mansoori said. “We will move towards digitally-enabling our agents as well.”

In the next phase of the project, the team will deploy deep learning technology to “decipher more about customers” and create personalised policy packages, IBM said. Video analytics for remote communication purposes will also be tested in the next phase.

Source: Economic Times