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Putting the “sure” in insurance – the power of intelligent automation, improved analytics and cloudification



Vivek Agarwal, President – BFSI, HLS and Corporate Development, Tech Mahindra


We have seen most insurers demonstrate tremendous resilience in managing through the COVID 19 curveball. Through sheer grit and determination, they have been able to make the workforce productive from home and ensure clients and employees are supported. They rapidly deployed digital tools to address virtual sales, implemented collaboration tools, upgraded networks, enterprise security, and other components to keep the business humming. This was a CEO and board conversation, and, in most cases, they realized the level of underinvestment in technology across their organization. While some were already on the path to digitization, for most the global pandemic served as a wake-up call.

According to KPMG, 85% of insurance company CEOs say COVID-19 accelerated the digitization of operations, while 79% believe the pandemic brought a new sense of urgency to create new business models and revenue streams. As per McKinsey Global Insurance Pool Statistics, there is an upsurge in digital sales over in-person sales in the last two years across Life and P&C businesses.

This is welcome progress – acknowledging the necessity of digital transformation in a historically slow-changing industry is a step in the right direction. Customers have already moved forward and are becoming increasingly comfortable with buying policies online. ~70% of millennials1 want personalized policies and report 2.5x higher interaction on social media & 2.0x on internet-mobile 1. Providing top-tier digital experiences is table stakes.

But acknowledging the need is just one step; selecting the right technologies to spearhead the revolution is a different story altogether. While a handful of businesses have shown success, many lack a coherent view of the key technology trends to select, while almost a third struggle with quick decision-making.

For those who are yet to begin digitizing operations, it would be beneficial to understand three of the biggest technology trends disrupting the insurance sector:


Intelligent automation

In a year likely to be defined by fine margins, intelligent automation can boost business efficiency and create smart processes. For insurance businesses, intelligent automation can significantly save time, thus creating operational cost efficiencies, for example, automation can reduce the claim journey cost by 30%. Additionally, and in the long term, it can drive insights that keep customers returning year after year. Staff can spend less time analyzing data, and reallocate their time to more meaningful, higher-order work.

Subsectors such as the global reinsurance market are under increasing pressure due to factors like everchanging capital adequacy requirements, frequent weather events leading to higher claims, and the changing business environment due to geopolitical and economic issues. Intelligent automation solutions can enable reinsurers to improve their profit margins and offer value-added services to customers.


Data & Analytics

Insurance organizations are becoming increasingly keen to leverage the power of in-house and third-party data. A rapidly digitizing society is driving up the number of touchpoints that generate data – be it government, environmental, individual, or even location data. In turn, this can be deployed to drive the advanced capabilities offered by big data, artificial intelligence, machine learning, deep learning, and other complementary technologies like robotic process automation (RPA).

Best-in-class insurance companies are already developing and deploying these intelligent decision support mechanisms to augment and transform customer service, underwriting, pricing, claims, and many other ancillary functions. Some of the use cases like L&A insurers predicting customer behavior, identifying lapse patterns, and improving cross-selling capabilities; P&C insurers focusing on fraud analytics while reinsurers prioritize claims automation, and insurance firms are increasing profitability in many ways. As such, taking the steps to build new infrastructure and invest in new models will add a competitive edge for insurance companies.



Finally, an increasing number of insurance providers are harnessing cloud capabilities for both their core and noncore workloads. Hybrid and multi-cloud approaches are becoming prevalent. Doing so, along with legacy decommissioning, helps businesses to reduce both capital expenditure and operational expenses, enabling them to be agile and responsive to keep pace with the rapidly changing marketplace. In our experience with large-scale cloud migration and infrastructure consolidation, insurers can expect to benefit up to 25% of the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). In many cases, these savings are imperative to justify the business case and fund new transformation. Tech Mahindra uses 6 proven levers to deliver the overall TCO reduction.

Cloud technologies can aid and improve governance and compliance, minimizing risk for businesses in a changing regulatory landscape. The solutions are now so sophisticated that they are more reliable than traditional solutions, offering the flexibility, agility, and scalability required to meet changing customer expectations. Further, for businesses looking to harness intelligent automation and data and analytics, cloud platforms offer secure data storage which can be accessed from anywhere.

These three trends can revolutionize insurance industry processes, from optimizing premiums to identifying fraudulent claims. Intelligent automation, big data, and cloudification have been at the periphery for years, gradually disrupting many back-mid-office functions. However, the pandemic brought these technologies to the forefront, as companies deployed them to overcome new challenges confronting their customers. Drawing upon lessons from some of the other industries that are ahead in this journey and that we have served successfully as partners, there is significant potential to leverage from connected ecosystems of partners, data, and devices that these technologies can help enable.

The rewards of a digitized insurance sector are numerous. Intelligent automation, improved data analytics, and cloudification will help companies not only grow top lines and strengthen bottom lines, but they will also be more responsive in meeting market demands while having a scalable and secure enterprise. A sustainable transformation approach tying together initiatives will go a long way to achieve these outcomes. The onus is on insurance companies to establish this, move swiftly and unlock these benefits.


Taxing times for online marketplaces? Operators must act now to avoid losing sellers




By Niall Kiernan, Senior Director of Product Marketing, Vertex


In today’s digital landscape, online marketplaces are an enabler for many businesses to achieve their growth ambitions. From Amazon to eBay, Etsy to Vinted, businesses of all sizes are now utilising online marketplaces, and recent years has seen exponential growth in this area. Numerous factors, including the proliferation of mobile devices and widespread availability of high-speed internet, have resulted in this escalation. Combined with consumer demand for convenience, along with the impact of the pandemic, the success of online marketplaces can be seen in the numbers. In 2021, retail eCommerce sales amounted to approximately US$ 5.2 trillion worldwide. This figure is forecast to reach US$8.1 trillion dollars by 2026.

It is clear that online marketplaces are a vital source for businesses to continue to flourish but there are still major roadblocks which can hinder a business’ efforts to capitalise on the booming sector. According to research commissioned by Vertex, which surveyed 479 finance professionals globally, seven out of ten sellers using marketplaces to trade online believe that indirect tax challenges could deter them from using them again in the future.

The complexity of ensuring a frictionless eCommerce experience

Whilst over half of respondents in the survey agreed that marketplaces are getting easier to use as a sales channel, ensuring that both operators and sellers can enjoy a frictionless experience is one of the biggest challenges in the space. Respondents indicated that they are looking for more support and guidance on issues including: how to ensure transactions and the transfer of money can be more seamless (65%), tax liabilities (64%), and compliant invoicing (63%). But what are some of the specific roadblocks both marketplace operators and sellers are experiencing?

  1. The cross-border trade conundrum

85% of marketplace operators surveyed indicated that they are looking to increase their seller base, however there are numerous tax complications when trade crosses borders. Four out of seven operators stated they have struggled to manage tax liabilities and tax complexities around seller shipping locations. Online marketplaces are very much a global affair, with cross-border transactions being the norm.

The difficulty here is that both operators and sellers must comply with the different tax regimes of the countries they operate in, which can be a complex and burdensome process. Seller respondents reported a wide range of issues when they sell through marketplaces, including balancing their tax liabilities and knowing where and when they are liable for tax.

  1. Complexities in every step of a transaction

Dig beneath the surface and the process of a transaction is much more complex than initially meets the eye. From listing fees to shipping and handling charges, or the previously mentioned cross-border trade complexities, every step in the transaction process brings multiple challenges to both the operators and sellers themselves.

45% of sellers surveyed want their marketplace operators to improve the process of finance and tax automation to overcome these barriers, but of the operators, only 56% manage all tax liabilities on their seller’s behalf. If marketplace operators want to ensure they have a healthy population of sellers, this figure needs to increase.

Tax technology for a trouble-free tomorrow

Although there are clear and significant indirect tax challenges for online marketplaces, the space remains an attractive channel for businesses to achieve their growth ambitions. 81% of businesses are taking advantage of online marketplaces to attract new customers and sell into more countries and upon further inspection, they attribute this expansion into marketplaces to reach a wider geographical market (57%), to being more competitive (50%) and to tap into cross-border sales opportunities (48%). It’s clear that sellers are wanting to utilise online marketplaces to expand their customer base globally and if operators want to increase their seller base and take advantage of the growing demand for this, and 85% of those surveyed do, then they need to ensure that their platforms offer a seamless experience for their sellers.

By investing in an end to end tax management solution which can handle all types of indirect tax requirements, you will be able to support sellers on their own individual growth journeys. In addition, you can rest assured that it will also enable them to feel confident that their chosen platforms can meet all the indirect tax requirements as they increase their cross-border sales.

To learn more about the taxing times for the marketplace and seller relationship, download the latest report by Vertex.

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Top 10

Five Ways to Save Money in Your 20s




Depending on your background, entering your 20s can be a bit of a precarious time. Among the things you’ll need to get to grips with is the idea of having your own money to spend. Whether you’ve just left education, or you’ve been in the world of work for a while, it pays to understand finance. The bad news is that your financial education, if you’re like most people, won’t have amounted to much. The good news is that you’ve spotted the problem early, and you can look to try to correct it.

You might put money aside in an ISA, or some other optimised savings account. You might, at this point, be looking around and wondering how you compare to everyone else (which is only natural). Research indicates that around 15% of people in the UK don’t have any savings at all, while 33% have savings of less than £1,500. If you’re young, then you’re more likely to fall into these brackets.

We should note, however, that not everyone’s starting from quite the same level. If you haven’t gotten a leg up from your family, then you’ll be at a disadvantage – but it needn’t be a lasting one, if you develop the right financial habits.

Make it a habit

Keeping your spending in check is a lot like keeping your weight under control, or learning a musical instrument. The things that you do every day without thinking will tend to add up to your long-term success or failure. Build the right financial habits, and you’ll be in good shape. Avoid frivolous spending. Ask yourself whether you really need a given product or service before you buy it. Don’t mistake an asset for a liability, and don’t kid yourself about the difference between the two.

Be realistic

You probably don’t want to waste your twenties by living a monastic lifestyle, especially if your friends are constantly going on holiday or going out in town. So, set yourself realistic limits. In some cases, you might be able to save on the necessities in creative ways. If the cost of learning to drive is prohibitive, for example, then you might look at learner driving insurance, and practicing in your own car.

Emergency funds

You never quite know what the future will hold – and you don’t want to have to sell anything when disaster strikes. If you do, then you’ll be forced to incur the costs an inconvenience that go along with selling. Think about how long you’ll be able to survive on the cash in your current account, and maintain the balance accordingly.

Saving goals

Your spending should ideally be goal-oriented. Think about what you’d like your credit score to look like, and think about how many cards you want to take out. If you think you’re going to have trouble keeping track of your funds, then you might look into budgeting apps that might help you out. As a benchmark, you might look at setting aside around ten per cent of your income for the future.

Retirement savings

While you might not be thinking about your retirement quite yet, it’s worth setting a little bit aside for this period in your life. It makes economic sense, as the government will inflate your savings by up to 25%, up to £4,000 saved every year. This lasts right up until you’re 40 – so, get saving now!

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