The Early Challenges in Building a Robust IT Infrastructure

Weng Kuen, Head of Information Technology, KBZMS General Insurance

Weng Kuen, Head of Information Technology, KBZMS General Insurance

KBZMS General Insurance, a joint venture with Mitsui Sumitomo, is Myanmar’s leading insurance company with over 800 staff across 22 branches around the country. Insurance is still largely an unknown concept in Myanmar, with over 80 percent of people not having heard of insurance. With an 80 percent smart phone penetration and a 113 percent mobile subscription penetration, Myanmar is also one of the fastest growing mobile data markets in Asia.

Taking up the role of Head, Information Technology with IKBZ Insurance (as the company was known then) was a challenge I had set out to embrace upon joining in January 2018. As I enter my 4th year of service with this budding company, I take pride in seeing several of the initiatives within our Technology roadmap materializing and already paying dividends, with more in-flight initiatives taking shape in the months to come.

Building the right fundamental block was crucial considering that not much was in place back then. Starting literally with a blank sheet of paper, it was important to find the right partners to put in place a Core Insurance system to form the “heart” of our IT infrastructure.

Starting almost from scratch does have its advantages. While organizations across industries have hastened the progressive replacement of legacy business applications with a new breed of SaaS applications that are data-driven, intuitive, composable, and ideally suited for more distributed cloud architectures, we were able to jump right in and build our ideal system from the ground up.

Numerous options were considered in terms of hosting the infrastructure, having to strike the ideal balance between building a robust infrastructure against the cost of investment. The technology trend was moving towards Multi-cloud/Hybrid cloud, AI/ML, Blockchain, Robotic process automation, mobile computing and Big data.  The key was to get that balance right and the decision to host our mission-critical systems on multi-cloud (production on AWS Cloud, while UAT on TCS Cloud) proved to be the right one.

Visiting TCS office in Mumbai withKBZMS’ CEO (Anil Mancham) &then CDO (Raghu) during a business trip to Shanghai to exploretechnology case studies.

Putting in Place the Fundamental Blocks

We overcame the biggest challenge on our technology transformation journey with the successful implementation of our Core Policy Admin System (i.e., TCS’ BaNCS) in mid-July of 2020. The project kicked off in May 2019 and UAT delivery took only 110 days upon completion of the Fit-Gap analysis, despite disruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic, which meant working remotely for a substantial part of the project.

BaNCS provides an end-to-end integrated system with SAP B1 as our ERP handling policy accounting. It covers the breadth and depth of functionalities across all lines i.e. P&C, Health & Life for ease of business process.

With the implementation of BaNCS as our Core Policy Admin System (Core PAS), the focus now is to streamline and enhance our operations, such as improving Service Turn Around Times (TAT) and ultimately enhancing our services to our policyholders. Almost all aspects of our business operations have been enhanced, reducing many of the manual processes along the way and making document and transaction tracking easier. Accessibility has also been improved, which has been crucial for our business continuity during mandatory work from home periods during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Core PAS project team posing with the TCS on-site team.                                     

What’s Next?

The implementation of BaNCS allows us to expand our capabilities to execute the digital roadmap for our company. Our next steps include empowering producers and policyholders by providing mobile point of sales and self-servicing capabilities. Data exchanges between Core PAS and our Data Lake will enhance data analytics capabilities and facilitate management reporting capabilities.

Staying ahead of our competition is also a top priority and although we currently have the most advanced Core PAS in Myanmar, we will continue to develop & innovate. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as well as the current political situation have thrown up a different set of challenges. The silver lining is that it has pushed us to find more creative ways to achieve our goals. User communities have had to adopt to new ways of doing things (e.g., using collaboration tools like Microsoft 365) while working from home.

The Critical Success Factors

Reflecting on our achievements so far, we have been fortunate to have a clear business direction and the support of senior executives of the organization. This support will be crucial as we continue to adopt new technology trends in Artificial Intelligence, Block Chain, Cloud Technology, Data Analytics, Mobile Technology, etc. in the new normal of business operations.

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