In this interview with BW Businessworld, Shiv Ranjan, Head, Application Development, Sun Life Asia Service Centre India, observes some of the changes that technology has brought in, and that has in turn impacted the sector itself.
SunLife, globally and at Asia Service Centre India (ASCI), has always viewed digital transformation journey as a key strategy for unlocking business potential. In COVID times, the company prioritised and rolled out virtual healthcare, multiple digital tools to its distributors and advisors to enable its partners to service its clients remotely. In this interview with BW Businessworld, Shiv Ranjan, Head, Application Development, Sun Life Asia Service Centre India, observes some of the changes that technology has brought in, and that has in turn impacted the sector itself.
While much is changing as response to COVID, what according to you are some changes that are here to stay?
Any crisis of this nature will result in radical change in mindsets and behaviours amongst both consumers and employees. In the past, we saw demonetisation push unparalleled digital payment adoption in India, and that was irreversible consumer behaviour. Lot many continue to use various digital wallets and other digital payments across all channels. Similarly, with this crisis, today consumers, want to avail various services from the comfort of their homes rather than stepping out. Going forward, there would be huge uptick in digital consumption of services, how businesses can bring to clients is going to be a key success factor. At the same time, what will create differentiation is the digital transformation of a business process which focusses on clients and their needs, clubbed with easy-to-use technology.
In the future, the sales function is going to become more remote and sales teams will need to learn how to understand client needs, build relationships and provide solutions with less or no face to face interaction. They would have to supported with digital tools. Organisations must create an ecosystem of digital tools for sales force, train them with new ways of working and enable them to service their client remotely. Digital assistants (chatbots) will also see high usage.
What were some of the changes that you had to put in place?
Our business continuity planning journey has been marked by quick organisation of the leadership and enablement teams for a common purpose. Today, at Asia Service Centre India, almost everyone is enabled to work from home. With technology, business and operation teams working remotely, we are seeing a hyper-distributed agile environment. At Asia Service Centres, we even quickly re-looked at our organisational policies and guidelines for this remote working situation whether it was reimbursing our people for internet connectivity or facilitating more people with laptops.
We are continuously working providing collaborations tools to these distributed teams, making them more productive. Our regular virtual townhalls, ‘Ask us Anything’ live sessions from leadership team, daily stand ups with managers are some examples of engaging with our workforce.
We see needs of these tools continue to go up even in future as some part of our teams will continue to work from home in long run going forward. We are working on future of workplace and workforce strategy already.
Do you see opportunities that the crisis presented?
While COVID has presented many challenges, we must look at the situation as an opportunity to bring more focus on our digital initiatives. Creating unique digital experiences for our clients and employees via technology has been part of our long-term strategy and this crisis has brought forth necessity of these in current time. Going forward, reaching clients and providing services digitally will play an important part of strategy. Enabling employees to work remotely will play much larger role for organizations going forward. Technology platforms and products will become backbone of organisations - connecting employees, clients and bringing value.
What do you see as some of the focus areas for businesses in the year ahead, in a post COVID era?
Health, according to me, will remain mainstay focus area for some time to come and there is a big role technology can play in furthering the cause. Digital health, where health services are provided to clients on platforms will see greater adoption.
The insurance industry will need to work on advisor enablement by providing digital tools and services for understanding client needs and hence providing solutions. For organisations workforce, digitisation of processes for employees while they work remotely, will become more pervasive. For example, at ASCI, we have recently launched internal chatbot to assist our employees for self-servicing of their IT needs.
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