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October - 2012 - issue > CIO Insights
Engaging on-field is of Paramount Importance
Murli Nambiar
Chief Technology Officer-Reliance Life Insurance
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Murli Nambiar is happy today. A physics graduate from Bombay University Murli Nambiar is spelling his success streaks in one of India’s leading private sector financial services company —Reliance Life Insurance with his IT and Information security strategy and implementation. Having 19 years of IT experience and has worked for premier organizations like Mashreq bank and ICICI Bank, he successfully held the position of Chief Technology Officer.

Reliance Life Insurance is a Reliance Capital Company and is part of Reliance Group. Reliance Capital has interests in asset management and mutual funds, stock broking, life and general insurance, proprietary investments, private equity and other activities in financial services. The firm offers products that fulfill savings and protection needs to a wide array of clients. Reliance Life Insurance recently recorded a 140 per cent jump in profits in the current financial year (June 2012) and is poised to grow drastically in the coming years.

In a candid Chat with Murli Nambiar, he attributes these current successes to a strong will to achieve and constant innovations within the organization.

Initiatives driving in the organization

One of the major initiatives taken up is the consolidation of reporting applications into SaaS. One application does the entire reporting for the business side and another aspect is the usage of SaaS for data analytics, which is used for prediction and retention of customers. Currently the organization is exploring the usage of tablets and smart phones to increase productivity and give access to data literally on the fingertips. Moreover, virtualization and consolidation of servers has recently been finished, which has reaped huge financial benefits.

During the initial days, close interactions with the business teams was lacking. In this regard, we introduced an initiative for the IT team leaders to undertake additional portfolios of a business relationship manager. The business relationship manager communicates to the business teams as a single point of contact, which help Reliance add value to its internal customers, the business teams. For instance, Face to face Interactions is of utmost importance! There is no point if the business and the technology teams are plucking in different divergences because eventually it will lead to negative results. On-field engagement is an effective methodology to gain trust and to make internal clients feel that the IT team is doing what is important for the business.

With the limited available IT resources, the current challenge is to meet the changing requirements of business. So it is important for the team to bring success and innovation with available limited resources. Having this in mind we came up with 'project prioritization' as a major initiative. A prioritization committee was setup comprising of all the heads of departments from business. The heads or their SpoC's prioritize the delivery of the required products.

Leveraging the customers

In the SaaS front, doing analytics on data is the only way to make focused campaigns for a customer and ensure derivation of value added data. The way ahead is to look at these tools which would help business to make a focused approach to select customers.

On the mobility front, business teams want to do majority of their work while traveling. Hence, mobility is definitely the next phase of focus. Today the company is contemplating the cost benefits by moving into a cloud environment. The team is in talks to use the collaboration suite of Google. Reduction of the total cost of ownership from the technology front and making sure money spent is benefiting the business team in some front is of primary importance.

Encouraging Innovation

The firm uses key performance indicators aggregate to monitor team members. It is important that innovative ideas should be shown by the team on a constant basis. This is one of the key aspects that have been incorporated into the Key Process Area (KPA) to drive innovation. For example, one of the innovative ideas that came about from one of the team members is enabling the advisors on the ground to have mobile devices. This can enable to capture information of the customers in real time. The advisor can then upload the data into the server .This is an innovative idea which is being explored.


To ensure successful delivery of achievements from the business field is the main target. Everyone is closely monitoring the deliveries to ensure delivery before the eleventh hour. Today there is huge pressure in terms of limited resources count. The resources have to be used effectively and these requirements should be delivered in a time bound and a phase manner.

The second vision is constant innovation. The employees have to bring fresh ideas and produce out of the box thinking. It is important that the individuals come up with innovations that help to reduce costs or increase the business productivity. So there is a time release objective. If these elements of difference are not shown then it is not a good job done.

(As told to Vignesh A)
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