I find this article intriguing as I can foresee the next battle field is at the API strategics. How you find this article a good read.
Special thanks to Nikhar Aggarwal and ETCIO.com
The API model will help customers access real-time information about insurance policies and other details without the offline hassle.
In recent years, API development has grown significantly. And Open API, which was initially meant to be interpreted by machines, is now being leveraged by people for business purposes. Though Open API isn’t a silver bullet that can solve all problems but it can support any organization with its design-first approach and other collaborative benefits.
From the Indian market perspective, the BFSI sector can be seen bullish over APIs, and specifically, the insurance sector which may have joined the league late has now been running up to the pace of change with its business-centric approach of APIs.
One such insurer is Edelweiss General Insurance which has now stepped into API development for various internal use cases such as better claim process, enhanced collaboration with insurance partners, and more.
“We have invested in Open API development to enable insurer’s distributors to speedily integrate with us. We are aiming to lower the cost of integration and retrieve information such as product premium, policy details, etc., in real-time. The integration will create more choices for the consumer and will also offer a better experience with regards to policy purchase, post-issuance needs such as policy information updates, and claims. As a cloud-native General Insurance company, we have put heavy investments in our technology backbone. Our technology stack comprises a highly-scalable core system through microservices-based architecture. Our middleware is also designed to ensure scale and ease of integration across applications. Overall, we are fairly stable and mature for where we are today, and well placed to take us further for scaling-up our business,” Shanai Ghosh, ED & CEO, Edelweiss General Insurance said.
EGI has taken several concrete steps to develop the Open API model. Hosting on Amazon cloud, using AWS SageMaker for machine learning use cases, working on SAP applications, data repository support by S4 Hana databases, and many other digital projects are amongst those steps. With a strong tech foundation, EGI started to explore API models and Open API space as well.
Tracking API developments
EGI’s API portal is intended to enable quick and hassle-free integration with its partners. According to Ghosh, It is imperative to keep a close watch on the overall time taken for integration, with as minimum intervention needed as possible.
EGI’s tech teams monitor the API usage to ensure that there are no challenges in successfully consuming the APIs. The company has tested the success of the API portal in the beta stage for further integration once it gets live.
Benefits of APIs
The open API gateway will offer quicker integration with EGI services and policies with a shortened integration cycle, both time and cost-wise. The customers can now access real-time information on policy updates, product premiums, etc. without having to rely on an offline mechanism in real-time space. The objective of API modernization is to bring transparency and enhance the experience for customers as well as insurance partners while they sign up and further access documentation on the platform.
Challenges and opportunities of Open APIs
In order to help insurance partners to integrate easily with EGI’s policies, claims, and other processes, Ghosh and her team looked at Open APIs as the solution and gamechanger in their line of business.
While the opportunity for the company is to enhance customer experience and gain better visibility with its insurance distributors and partners. EGI faced several challenges and security is one of the foremost which is being eliminated by the company’s IT security teams.
“Maintaining robust and up-to-date documentation as APIs go through versioning changes often brings challenges for companies amid API development and so did we faced. We have moved our security console to the cloud. And this decision was critical but did support us in API security hygiene. Our IT security team has developed an API security strategy that also includes data protection on top of it. We have also taken measures towards API monitoring of development, performance, and usage. So we have touch-based on every possible aspect which could have created a pitfall for us. Other than this we have faced challenges around defining the process in a way where people can easily access the APIs (i.e. user experience), making sure that we have a provision for good API documentation and lastly ensuring that our APIs remain secure from external threats,” Ghosh emphasised.
EGI has a well-defined process for ensuring the security aspects from internal as well as external sources. At the general insurance company, the security team is an integral part of their overall architecture design and is not an after-thought.
“With regards to the overall project plan, our approach was to deliver the initial set of APIs on a fast track mode, so we can easily assess the challenges, mitigate those, as well as validate how the API portal will help us achieve our goals. Our technology team has moved fairly quickly using an agile approach,” Ghosh added.
Strategising IT investments
Going forward, Ghosh is overzealous towards exploring new-age technologies and the world of Open APIs.
“Key focus areas for us include bringing in more innovation through digital transformation projects, creating an ecosystem for both us and our partners to be able to leverage our technology initiatives. We are investing in technologies aimed at achieving superior customer experience in every stage of the policy lifecycle, right from policy issuance to servicing. We also want to achieve cost efficiencies in operations and seamless customer journeys through the sensible use of new technologies in AI. So we will be looking at investing in AI, ML, and more digital technologies in the coming years,” Ghosh concluded.