How Alibaba Built a Smart Office Ecosystem in the Insurance Industry
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By Chen Yidong from Cloud-AI-Times.
With the coronavirus situation quickly worsening in China, insurance companies like China Pacific Insurance Co., Ltd, needed to find a way to stay in business despite troubling conditions to help their customers through some very tough times. But, to do this, many insurance companies like China Pacific needed to make significant improvements in several of their online digital systems, including figuring out a way to create, or rather update, their digital office solution, of which includes clock-ins and clock-outs, voice and video conferencing, training, and remote collaboration procedures.
In this article we’re going to look at how China Pacific were able to connected its organizational architecture with Alibaba Cloud and launch a digital office for their employees online. China Pacific were able to revitalize their collaboration system by focusing on their field-work office-work teams through Alibaba’s DingTalk messaging platform, which, besides messaging, also features a large variety of business-oriented functions.
China Pacific has already cooperated with Alibaba Cloud for several years, in fields such as public cloud, AI, and security consulting. The cooperation between China Pacific and DingTalk evolved from basic services to the joint development of products and applications.
Empowering New Technologies
Coinciding with China’s widespread technological development, China Pacific Insurance Co., Ltd., has constantly explored and innovated technologies.
In 1998, when the Internet was born, China Pacific built core business systems to digitize core insurance data and convert documents from paper to electronic format. In 2012, when the mobile Internet started to thrive, China Pacific launched a tablet-based intelligent insurance sales platform. It became the first in the industry to launch insurance sales on the mobile Internet. In 2016, the company independently developed an app to cover services from the business to the customer end. The app reached a customer base of 10 million in just 2 years. In 2018, when the AI industry was born in China, China Pacific proposed the customer-oriented concept of rapidly developing AI and big data. China Pacific built an intelligent robotic system to provide technological capabilities for customers to carry out business, marketing, and risk management. It also built an insurance service ecosystem that supports healthcare, elderly care, convenience services, and public welfare.
In its efforts to apply new technologies in the digital era, mobile Internet era, and AI era, China Pacific has always been at the forefront of digitization. China Pacific has transformed itself to drive the new technology revolution in the insurance industry.
For China Pacific, the technological empowerment of recent years will drive the stable growth of the future. In 2019, it proposed a new development strategy that focused on values, teams, and empowerment, with a view towards realizing its mission to lead the healthy and stable development of the industry while maintaining high quality. China Pacific has strived to use technologies to build an insurance service ecosystem, empower its frontline sales teams, and support service operations.
China Pacific built an insurance technology platform based on an innovative application incubation lab, featuring agile research and development, agile applications, and agile delivery. This platform helps China Pacific rapidly export technological capabilities, promote business process transformation, and provide convenient and efficient technical support for customers to conduct business activities at the frontline. The company uses the power of technology to focus on the customer, innovating business models based on customer requirements, and enabling it to build an intelligent insurance service ecosystem and a well-rounded “China Pacific community” that offers customers can comprehensive and personalized insurance services.
As a national insurance enterprise, China Pacific has employees all over the country to conduct field-work and office work. With the improvement of their external service capabilities, the company requires efficient collaboration between its field-work and office-work teams.
China Pacific and Alibaba’s DingTalk team have cooperated on business exploration since the end of 2019. They jointly developed a DingTalk system for China Pacific and implemented it in China Pacific’s branches in Zhejiang and Anhui province. The functionality, experience, and collaboration of the DingTalk system was verified.
When the COVID-19 outbreak struck China at the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020, China Pacific conducted telecommuting as required by the government. It took only 20 days for China Pacific to launch its DingTalk collaborative office platform across the company by leveraging the technologies of previous projects between China Pacific and Alibaba. The platform provides telecommuting collaboration and business support for 800,000 field workers and more than 40,000 office workers. This ensured normal business operations during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The platform greatly improved the remote communication of field workers and office workers. It also interconnected central departments and enabled convenient and efficient communication by multiple means.
Revitalizing the Collaboration System Online
The first quarter of every year is a critical period for insurance companies to generate income. During this period, China Pacific’s field-work team conducts frequent offline visits and develops business. The team members clock in, receive sales tasks, communicate with customers, and provide solutions to customers’ problems. However, all routine work was stopped during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Under epidemic containment, all field-work teams and sales teams, ranging from dozens to hundreds of members in size, had to limit their work, such as unified management and sales task allocation. The field-work teams encountered a greater challenge in business development during the epidemic in China.
Many insurance companies started to conduct business online. Insurance companies reach customers by offering the best technologies and most cutting-edge experience. However, most companies do not emphasize the construction of an enterprise operations and maintenance platform for internal digitization, collaboration, and intelligentization. In the future, insurance companies will need to leverage data and technologies to enable the mid-end to perform resource operations, model creation, and ecosystem services, and to make the backend responsible for operating, managing, and coordinating people, finance, and materials. This process is called online organizational intelligentization.
Liu Weiguang, vice president of Alibaba and general manager of the intelligent new finance department of Alibaba Cloud, said, “99% of enterprises and organizations either use a management mode inherited from the paper office era or they still use the empirical management of the information era. Their management method is not online, digital, or intelligent.”
Communication between business-oriented and enterprise-oriented teams is the basis for customer services. Efficient communication can greatly reduce costs. CPIC DingTalk helps China Pacific Insurance Co., Ltd., transform its management mode to improve operation management, conduct efficient organizational collaboration, and implement office digitization.
“China Pacific invests a lot in digitization, including the development and online provisioning of customer-oriented products and services. China Pacific has explored online office collaboration but has not built a collaboration system for the business-oriented and enterprise-oriented team. This is vastly different from Alibaba’s practices of having nearly everything online,” said Wan Yunfei, a senior solutions architect with Alibaba Cloud’s intelligent new finance department.
China Pacific accelerated their own internal digitization project due to the COVID-19 outbreak, creating opportunities to revitalize the collaboration system and digitize the company. China Pacific DingTalk helped China Pacific quickly build a collaboration system that facilitated work attendance checking, team communication, file collaboration, audiovisual conferencing, and live training.
In DingTalk you can clock in by using facial recognition. Moreover, DingTalk also provides a convenient and easy-to-use work-attendance statistics tool, which can help to standardize routine work and improve the execution capability of the business-oriented field-work teams. DingTalk provides live training to ensure sales task delivery to the field work team. DingTalk also provides the group logging and visitor clock-in features to enable refined management of team marketing.
DingTalk is designed for enterprise collaboration and business orientation, and has greatly improved the efficiency of collaboration within China Pacific. DingTalk enables the enterprise-oriented office work team to edit shared files in a collaborative and efficient manner. Shared files are watermarked for tracing. The video conferencing feature allows teams to hold multifunctional conferences online. The enterprise address book feature helps China Pacific clarify its organizational structure and conduct convenient communication. The smart personnel management feature facilitates the multidimensional and straightforward management of human resources.
In the process of digitization and intelligentization, China Pacific cooperated with Alibaba’s DingTalk team to jointly develop a DingTalk system and platform for China Pacific, using DingTalk’s smart hardware to create a smart workplace for China Pacific, which features smart work attendance checking, smart front desk, smart conference room, and smart networks. This greatly improved work efficiency at the company and attracted a large number of young insurance agents. China Pacific was able to comprehensively upgrade their software and hardware in a digital and intelligent manner. This point was stressed by Li Longyi, the industry manager of Alibaba DingTalk.
Migrating the Organizational Structure to the Cloud
Within the trend towards technological empowerment, the core value chain of the insurance industry is being changed by new technologies, such as cloud computing, big data, and AI. Security threats have always been an obstacle for the financial industry.
By migrating business to the cloud, the insurance industry can effectively solve the pain points of digitization. Moreover this can also help insurance companies quickly build new-generation IT systems and boost business improvement and innovation. Secure and compliant cloud migration is necessary to leverage cloud-native capabilities.
China Pacific Insurance encountered difficulties in revitalizing their collaboration system to provide scenario-based financial services and conduct internal collaboration. The collaboration system was designed for the business-oriented and enterprise-oriented teams of China Pacific based on a bottom-up endogenous architecture.
“The prerequisite for revitalizing the collaboration system was the migration of China Pacific’s organizational architecture and information about more than 800,000 people to the cloud,” Wan Yunfei said. “The COVID-19 outbreak was the driving force behind the customer’s decision to migrate the organizational architecture to the cloud. China Pacific finally decided on cloud migration after they communicated with us to ensure that the security would be comprehensive in all aspects.”
The requirements were considered in the early stage. First, insurance companies prioritize data security and do not allow data disclosure under any circumstances. Second, organizational architecture information and internal files had to be stored locally in compliance with stipulated financial regulations. Third, it was necessary to streamline the collaboration system and make data disclosures traceable by using cloud technologies that guarantee security, while ensuring that the system was collaborative.
The DingTalk system implemented for China Pacific provided a hybrid architecture to store core data locally. Internal files and live videos could be stored on local object storage devices.
The synchronization of frontend and backend data was a key step in migrating China Pacific’s organizational architecture to the cloud. Three requirements were raised: (1) allow the business-oriented team be able to retrieve organizational architecture information from DingTalk in real time; (2) store frontend data, such as chat information, locally; (3) delete the information permissions of field work team members after resignation. Alibaba Cloud provided multiple solutions to meet China Pacific’s requirements. In particular, Alibaba Cloud’s Identity as a Service (IDaaS) was used to encrypt synchronized data.
IDaaS and the service provisioning gateway (SPG) are deployed in Alibaba Cloud based on a zero-trust security architecture. IDaaS implements collaboration for information transfer through DingTalk.
“IDaaS solves the data synchronization problem and can be flexibly adapted to the different security compliance mechanisms of China Pacific. IDaaS is integrated with DingTalk to encrypt address books, messages, and internal files,” Wan Yunfei said.
China Pacific’s system of DingTalk provides a data synchronization function and traceable records. Messages cannot be copied, forwarded, or retained by employees after resignation. Resigning employees are automatically removed from groups. All of this has met China Pacific’s strict requirements for data security and risk control.
In summary, China Pacific Insurance, Co., Ltd, revitalized their collaboration system to create vital support for business operations during the COVID-19 outbreak. China Pacific and Alibaba Cloud will cooperate on research and development of custom functions, new function testing, and data interoperability. They will leverage technologies to improve the management of the field work team and transform internal processes. Together with Alibaba Cloud, China Pacific will bring its business to the Internet and cloud computing space in China, blazing a trail for the insurance industry in building a digital office ecosystem.
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