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Home - BFSI - Article


SBI Life: Closer to the customer

SBI Life implemented a system to conduct transactions over the Internet and make relevant information accessible to employees, business partners and customers while driving profits at the same time

"Unlike many industry players, at SBI Life, the core system across all lines of business enables us to track the complete
relationship with each

- Murali G
Senior VP & IT Head
SBI Life Insurance

SBI Life Insurance is a joint venture between the State Bank of India and Cardif SA of France. To start with, the company wanted to have a multi-distribution approach and get sales through the banks, the traditional agency force, and a Bancassurance distribution platform. SBI Life was also planning to equip the bank branches to sell insurance and increase IT usage.

Says G Murali, Senior VP & IT Head, SBI Life, “Leveraging the strategic role of technology is core to the operations of every life insurer from lead generation to policy servicing to claims handling. The key IT drivers for a life insurance company are new product developments, new distribution channels, new regulatory requirements and typical issues ranging from sales tracking to customer services.”

Cross-selling is a viable option, but reaching the customer cost-effectively is more important. Companies need to create synergies through shared databases, and selectively mine the customer databases and a very strong 24x7 technology backbone. Life insurance companies also need to manage the cost and complexity of multiple channels while switching the least profitable clients to automatic channels for low-value-added transactions.

SBI Life approaches corporates and self-help groups to address the insurance cover needs of these specific groups through its highly customer-focussed group insurance initiatives. The requirement is to infuse insight into the sales and service divisions, and transform data into leads. Moreover, consumers are developing and becoming more demanding, and SBI Life intends to be available wherever and whenever the customer needs it.

SBI Life wanted a single IT architecture enabling multiple portals enterprise-wide. The objective was to allow for single sign-on for all applications and secure authorisation based on a unified user profile. SBI Life required personalised experience for leveraging the rules engine and entitlements, and secure access to content, applications and Web services.

Today, they transact over the Internet and make relevant information easily accessible to employees, business partners and customers, while driving profits in the process. SBI Life used an inside-out approach of implementation. They have a common enterprise-wide application interface, and their basic business transactions are on the browser, leading to lesser training and overall cost.

“Unlike many of the newer industry players who have different systems for each line of business, at SBI Life the core is a system across all lines of business which enables us to track the complete relationship with each customer,” says Murali.

Implementation in a nutshell
Company SBI Life Insurance
Project completed August 2004
Aim of the implementation Implementing an IT system in SBI Life that takes into account cross-selling, and improves the relationship with the customer
Major benefits
  • An infrastructure that can support broad information integration for the enterprise portal, relational databases, business intelligence, and enterprise content management applications
  • Unified portal creation and administration across the enterprise
  • A Web services-based service oriented architecture that delivers Web services and the ability to unlock existing assets as re-usable Web services
  • Projects that were previously shelved due to high integration costs can now come off the shelf and show immediate ROI

Products and technologies used
  • Onlinesbilife.com is implemented on BEA Weblogic Platform 8.1 with Oracle 9.1 as a backend
  • Tuxedo acts as a middleware to integrate the Web-based application with the Indigo engine
  • The core insurance engine is Indigo; the entire business logic from processing the proposal to policy issuance and policy servicing resides in Indigo
  • Behaviour tracking of user, group and profile management based on LDAP, RDBMS, legacy or a combination
  • Rules management for segmentation, content selection and entitlement at the portlet or page level
  • Webflow and pipeline MVC architecture
  • Support for CSS-based skins and multi-channel portals
  • Broadband Internet connectivity to a central server from all over the country
  • Security is addressed with Nortel/Alteon switch and Checkpoint network security software
  • Strategy, architecture, design and implementation was done by SBI Life's IT team
  • e-business infrastructure software was undertaken by BEA Systems
  • Software design and development was done by Satyam
  • Security was handled by Nortel and Check Point

IT implementation

The project was initiated in April 2004, and the initial roll-out was completed by August 2004. After the initial roll-out, when it was a centralised business structure (with 20 branches), the portal is continuously being customised, adapted and upgraded to support the business transition and adopt fast decentralisation of operational processes including automated underwriting for all non-medical proposals done at over 70 branches.

SBI Life has implemented an Internet-centric IT system with browser-based front-office and back-office systems, channel management, policy product details, online premium calculator and facility for group insurance customers to view their individual savings status on the Web.

The organisation has the facility to pay premiums through credit cards, Net banking, standing instructions, etc. This is fully integrated with the core systems through industry standards such as XML, EDI, etc. The project links the portal’s users to the enterprise’s digital assets, and gives users a single, personalised point of access to multiple types of information from any device, wired or wireless. Comments Murali, “Continuous and consistent training, and timely distribution of updated content form the corner-stone of any insurance firm. All this implies pulling together information in many different formats from many different databases and applications, which means the effective use of a portal.”

Business benefits

This project has helped SBI Life in tapping new markets, reducing IT maintenance costs, simplifying channel management, and enhancing customer experience. Operationally, it has tightly integrated applications, bringing together enterprise applications, digitised content, Web sites, e-mail, workflow integration and extensive search capabilities, besides reducing cost and time-to-market.

SBI Life is pleased with this IT initiative, and is planning to open services to partners from its portal. It is also moving to rolling out departmental business portals addressing its specific needs, integration with mobility devices using WAP, SMS etc., integration with new Open Source tools, and provisioning to allow compliance with new regulatory requirements such as ACCORD.

Concludes Murali, “In technology they are planning to have service level agreement monitoring and management, end-to-end auditing, policy-based management, and distributed fault management and alerting.”


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