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Telecom Cover: Aviva upgrades IT infrastructure to improve operations

April 29, 2011
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Aviva India is a joint venture between Dabur and Aviva plc, a UK-based insurance group. With a sales force of over 20,000 financial planning advisers, the company has pioneered several innovative concepts such as Bancassurance, financial health check services and unit-linked products.

The company has a distribution network of 159 branches and approximately 40 Bancassurance partnerships. It is present in 3,000 towns and cities across the country. Its partners include the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, Punjab & Sind Bank, IndusInd Bank and DBS.

According to the India Brand Equity Foundation, the Indian life insurance industry is expected to cross the $66.8 billion total premium income mark in 2011-12. With the aim of tapping the lucrative business opportunities this industry offers, Aviva India realised the need to exploit telecom as a strategic business tool. This was necessary to deliver services across multiple channels and maintain a competitive edge.

tele.net takes a look at the insurance major’s telecom-related initiatives so far...

Legacy system 

According to Rajiv Sehgal, chief information officer and senior vice-president, information technology, Aviva India, the company’s communications infrastructure in the early days was fairly basic. The infrastructure comprised “dumb terminals” and IBM Lotus Notes, which was in use for over five years.

However, as its business expanded, Aviva India felt the need for a strong platform to enhance growth. Besides, the company required a solution that would facilitate close monitoring of projects and quick decision-making.

The shift 

Keeping its requirements in mind, the insurance major opted for a multi-tiered communications infrastructure. It decided to implement Microsoft exchange servers. For its wide area network, it opted for MPLS connectivity, dedicated P2P links, DS3 circuits and the internet used in the 1:1 aspect. According to the company, MPLS afforded multiple benefits such as improved quality of service, easy and cost-effective network expansion, flexible bandwidth allocation, network security and network redundancy. Aviva ensured that all of its communication links were consolidated on a single platform by migrating from multiple service providers to a single service provider.

The company opted for multiple last mile access technologies. These include wireless connectivity, Wi-Max and a copper/fibre network for its wired local area network. The company also started using several enterprise applications such as mailing solutions and organisation domain-specific core applications.

Mobility applications related to insurance were made available to the company’s employees to keep in touch while on the go. These applications could also be accessed through a broadband connection. That apart, high speed data cards were provided to the company’s sales force and mobile-based, push-and-pull message solutions were deployed.

Security being a key concern for the insurance major, several mediums, such as SSL VPN and end-point for DLP, were put in place.

Apart from telecom tools, software applications such as Citrix virtualisation, DLP and RSA Envision were installed. According to Sehgal, the bandwidth of each communication medium varied, depending on the location (of each branch office) and the user base at each office.

Key benefits 

Although the company faced a few challenges in implementation, such as meeting timelines, the system modernisation resulted in several benefits. “The upgraded infrastructure provided us with several benefits. Consolidation of servers and rationalisation of bandwidth were some of the key advantages. Besides, the running cost was reduced, and maintenance/ uptime was ensured to our satisfaction,” notes Sehgal.

The insurance major has outlined a technology road map for the future. According to Sehgal, “We have multiple plans. Some of the works-in-progress are establishing an enterprise back-up solution, SQL clustering, and infrastructure consolidation and rationalisation at our primary data centre.” 

All in all, by stepping up its communications infrastructure, Aviva India has been able to cut communication costs as well as enhance its overall productivity and efficiency.

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