Authored by Gary S. Kaplan, President -North America Construction, AXA XL
Business strategy. It can drive phenomenal success or lead to epic failure. And there’s plenty out there to learn about it. A quick Google search generates more than 1.4 trillion results in less than .52 seconds. So, what does an effective business strategy mean in the highly competitive construction insurance industry? According to Gary Kaplan, President, North America Construction, keeping customers at the center of everything you do – from setting a long-term vision to the day-to-day details – is critical for success.
Since starting XL Catlin’s North America construction business in 2010, Gary has continued to refine the business strategy to keep up with changing customer needs and address new emerging risks. And it’s been a winning formula. By 2017, the multi-line construction insurance team achieved a major milestone — $2 billion in gross written insurance premium in just seven years of operations.
“Effective business strategy is a team effort. Everyone has a role to play in keeping the focus on customers,” says Gary. Here’s why.
How do you develop your business strategy?
Kaplan: Our strategy comes together through our project centric Leadership, Planning and Execution business model. This is a disciplined process that sets priorities based on what matters most. Our model provides a road map of what to do and when to do it. It helps us to listen better to our customers, focus on results, develop talent, empower our people through accountability and test critical assumptions.
We update our strategy each May, prior to doing our Financial Plan and right after we get direction from senior leadership. We bring in a lot of external insights by completing our Competitor, Broker and Geographic Analysis and evaluating emerging risks.
Who’s involved in the process?
Building and refining our strategy is an ‘all team’ effort. We’re a flat organization so we welcome all input throughout the year through our all-team monthly virtual calls. As far as the annual strategy sessions go, we now invite our Extended Leadership Team (ELT) members to join us and help shape the future together. We understand the benefits of including many in important decisions. With greater diversity of experience and thinking, we can accomplish more and also achieve higher buy-in to the ultimate decisions made. That’s one of the main reasons why we formed the ELT.
As part of this year’s strategy program, our ELT members completed a rigorous competitive analysis on our policy forms. We evaluated areas to improve and to address coverage gaps. Keeping ahead of competition is an ongoing part of our strategy. We look at our competitors from multiple angles and dig into the details on organizational structure, talent, book size, strategy, value proposition, products/services offered and other anecdotal evidence.
How do you keep customers part of this?
Customer feedback is central to our strategy development. In fact, every May for the last five years, we host our annual Construction Customer Council. We bring together leading contractors and subcontractors to share ideas and best practices, look ahead to what’s coming next, and discuss the top concerns. Our council members help to drive the agenda for this annual meeting. We focus on the topics that matter most to them. We pose tough questions and listen closely to their answers. This is all part of what we call, “Voice of the Customer”. With ongoing fresh insights, we continuously look for new ways to serve customers better. This industry is highly competitive, so raising the bar on service is where we differentiate ourselves.
What are you hearing? Anything new?
Our council members have gotten to know each other well over the years and have forged strong bonds — which mean that there’s a good amount of healthy debate on hot topics. That’s what we like to see. At our recent Customer Council program in Nashville, there was a lively exchange of ideas and concerns – everything from the rise of Artificial Intelligence, wearables, and modular construction. This is reshaping how work is done and creating new types of exposures. We also had a panel discussion on Diversity & Inclusion. The message was clear – there’s a lot of work to be done in making the construction and insurance industries ‘inclusive’ for all. D&I can’t be a short-term initiative or “a check in the box”. If companies want real change, it needs to be embraced by senior leadership, and sustained through ongoing work to shift the mindset.
Throughout the year, we also continue to listen and test our value proposition with both our brokers and customers. We want to better understand why we win new business – really dig into what brokers and customers value most. Just because we’ve had success in the past, doesn’t mean it’s forever. We have to keep going back and asking what products and services are valued most and ask if we are meeting and exceeding expectations in those areas. You can’t afford to lose sight of this. If you do, your business strategy is doomed.
What’s next for your business strategy?
Our business strategy is like a continuous improvement loop. It’s never officially done. As a team, we constantly look for new ideas, new processes, new products and new services that can better support our customers and brokers.
Also, my educational background is in chemistry, so I often think of refining strategy as similar to a mixture in a beaker glass. What elements do you add to the mixture to make it more effective or stronger? These are critical decisions to make. Some of the ‘elements’ could be collaborating with a new technology company, or investing to make a process more efficient, or updating a policy form to keep up with emerging risks. No matter what – it’s all about refining the winning formula that starts and ends with what customers want most.
Dynamic Caching- Emerging Trend, Need of Tomorrow
Authored by Amit Singh, Managing Director, Zenlayer India
Dynamic content caching is a term that’s synonymously trending with discussions around Content Delivery Network (CDN) industry. In fact, with the growing popularity around CDN Dynamic Content Caching is often the claim you will hear from most CDN players. Let me simplify for you how the modern technology makes caching of dynamic content possible.
Most content on the website is collection of both static and dynamic content pages. The word ‘static’ we know is something that remains constant. In computing, static content is any file that is stored in a server and is the same every time it is delivered to users like in the case of eBook, whitepaper, homepage of a website. On the other hand, dynamic content refers to any digital content that keeps changing based on factors specific to the user such as time of visit, location, and device. Text, audio and video formats are examples of dynamic content. This type of web content adjusts dynamically or in real-time allowing websites to individually adapt to different site visitors. Customised newsletters, emails are the most basic forms of dynamic content. Other examples include landing pages on website, forms and purchases, product pages with bounce offers like sales and coupons, targeted website advertisements, voice assistants, etc.
Dynamic content furnishes different information based on who the viewer is. Online store experience is a lot different for a frequent shopper than a first-time user. Online news website that displays latest news and articles on its web pages, also has dynamic content that keeps getting updated. Your blog feed, social media feed, personalized emails, are other examples of dynamic content that look entirely different for every user. Even interactive content that engages the users allowing them to interact with the content in order to change it are mostly dynamic in nature, like the comment area of your blog, social media sharing buttons, call-to-action buttons on a website and the popular ‘facetime’ or video chat via smart devices. But how is this constantly changing dynamic content being displayed on webpages, tv or smart devices in real-time? This is where CDN industry services and dynamic caching jointly play their roles.
CDNs and Dynamic Caching
‘Caching’ in computing, refers to the process of storing data or copies of files in a temporary storage area called cache. A cache’s primary purpose is to increase data retrieval performance by reducing the need to access the underlying slower storage layer. Caching enables quick access to the stored or cached content. Dynamic content is mostly event-driven for each user implying that the same cannot be served to multiple users and hence is difficult to cache. However, caching dynamic content is now viable with advanced CDNs the right technology mechanisms in place.
A Content Delivery Network (CDN) which today is a vital component of almost any modern web application, is a network of powerful computers located in geographically distinct places. It is designed to serve web content to visitors with great performance and efficiency. Ecommerce or media sites utilize the power of CDNs to frequently update content such as latest prices, news, weather forecasts, articles, featured products, breaking news, video etc on their web pages. Majority of content delivery networks frequently manage caching for sites through a global server network. CDNs can be configured to retrieve data from the origin servers and deliver dynamic content that is unique to the requestor. Intelligent caches and CDNs are able to quickly inspect requests and modify the behaviour of the caching logic as per requirements.
How dynamic caching works?
The HTML document is the backbone of the any webpage and is the first connection point between website origin server and the browser. With a large number of visitors, there is stress on the origin servers. But when the HTML document is cached, the caching server is the only one making a request to the origin server irrespective of the number of visitors. Thus, the website servers are freed up for critical transactions.
When a user visits a website using a CDN, and web traffic is geo-dispersed, it’s not always feasible and certainly not cost effective to replicate entire infrastructure across the globe. The traffic routes through the server that is closest to the user and serves up cached or stored versions of the site resources. This allows the site to load faster and eliminate requests back to the origin server. For caching, CDN reduces load on application origin and delivers a local copy of the content from a nearby cache server.
Role of cache servers
Proxy cache servers are the basic elements of a CDN’s network data centres, which are strategically situated around the world. Based on traffic patterns of individual regions, these points of presence (PoP) are chosen. Active locations with many users may have several data centres and remote locations with few users may have only one PoP to cover large geographic region. Cache servers act as a repository for website content, providing local users with quicker access to stored files. The cache server closest to the end user is chosen to reduce the connection time needed for transmission of website data.
Dynamic content is generated by running scripts in a CDN cache instead of a distant server thus reducing the response time to client requests and speeding up loading of dynamic web pages. It is served to client devices based on parameters like device type, time of day, user location, or data from third party APIs. Often, most content on a dynamic webpage is same for all users, and only few elements are dynamic. The dynamic content acceleration service leverages the high-quality connectivity between the network PoPs to improve response time. This service mainly takes advantage of the private back bone Software Defined Network (SDN) and achieves better ‘back-to-parent/origin’ network connectivity.
Advantages of Dynamic Caching
- Improved data retrieval and application performance
- Reduced hosting and server costs
- Reduced latency and improved IOPS for Q&A portals, gaming, media sharing, and social networking
- Dedicated caching layer enables systems and applications to run independently
- Data can span multiple cache servers and can be stored in a central location
- Controls like TTLs (Time to live) for successful cache and cache miss
- Decreased load on origin server
- Faster loading of sites
- Reduced bandwidth costs
- Improved access speed and user experience
- Reliable content delivery
- Highly resilient, secure and stable CDN cache servers
Uses of Dynamic Caching
- Website owners can gather visitor data like frequency of visits, pages visited etc and deliver personalized, dynamic web content at no additional cost
- Better interactive and personalised user experience
- Reduced load on the backend database and reduced time to load site
- Increased visitor time on site due to browser history insights and display of relevant content
- Increased conversion rates, bounce rates, and return visits
- High performance and no page layout break on multiple devices
- Easy maintenance
- Predictable Performance during peak traffic events like IPL or festivals
- Eliminate Database Hotspots
- Increase Read Throughput (IOPS)- In addition to lower latency, in-memory systems also offer much higher request rates (IOPS)
With 5G reaching India soon, and some parts of the world heading towards 7G, we can soon expect video replacing voice, text, and everything in between. Dynamic Caching could become the panacea to avoid overloading of data.
Voice Messaging – A Mastered Path to Rural India
Authored by Mr. Rajdipkumar Gupta, MD & Group CEO, Route Mobile Limited
Out of a population of 133.2 crores in India, a total of 101 crores of people are estimated to own active mobile connections as per TRAI in April 2018. With an exponential rise in the number of mobile phone users across the globe, the world is gradually progressing towards a technologically smarter era. Having said that, an estimated figure of over 74 crores is still using a basic feature phone. Considering India which majorly is segmented into two categories:
• Urban population and • Rural population
As per the report of census 2017, India constitutes a total of 66% of the population to rural area. While the smartphone penetration in these areas is just about 20.26%, there still is a deficit in reach of over 61.5 crores mobile phone users which are not smartphones out of 74 crores basic feature phone users. Taking under consideration that most of these people use basic phones which would not allow them to use the latest high-end features, reaching out to the mass population located in rural areas using a technology that requires minimum technology intervention becomes paramount.
While people even in the remotest locations are carving their path to synchronize well with digitization, it would be fair to join the hands of these technological advancements with our traditional systems in order to enhance the effectiveness of all the activities undertaken. More so, people are getting engaged and connected with a palm-sized technology which enables them to reach out to the world with nothing more than just a simple touch on their screens. Although 36% of the Indian population has been using smartphones, a huge chunk of 64% living in urban as well as rural India is still distant from getting a cutting edge technology mobile phones.
What if we bring together the power of voice broadcast with brand campaigns?
With an active base of 1.012 billion mobile phone users, employing voice campaigns will help reach the message of the brands across the country. Versatile by nature, voice broadcasting can be used to promote events, deliver poll surveys, deliver general announcements, and many such activities.
A panoramic view on traditional means of brand campaigns:
A typical campaign carried by a brand involves people, resources, and predominantly a need for people to be physically present. Along with that, some of the most commonly encountered obstacles are as follows:
- Need of human intervention
- Uncertainty in reachability
- High budget requirement
- Language Barrier
- Dependency on external factors
As various brands majorly look out for expansion and recognition, a physical campaign requires physical presence of people. Adding on to that, the success of these events is considerably dependent on the availability of space, equipment, and favourable climatic conditions. The entire event might go for a toss in case of unfavourable climatic conditions, or other factors.
Conducting campaigns with voice broadcasting will not just allow one to increase the reach but at the same time will proffer with a range of other features.
Adding a tinge of personal touch has always been beneficial. With Voice Broadcasting, one can customize their campaigns based on their needs, and the demand of their target audience. You can also alter the campaign to a degree that suits the expectation of your upcoming campaigns. Additionally, brands will have the freedom to speak in a dialect that works for the masses. Also, these speeches can be then translated in the choice of the language required in the future in order to make it understandable yet effective.
High-level of Flexibility
It lets you take charge of your own campaigns. Developed to be able to use with a high level of ease, you can modify the campaigns without affecting the other attributes of your campaign. A simple and easy to use format lets you decide the nature of your voice messages.
Elimination of one way communication
Moving a level further, with an Interactive Voice Response, you can also gather, and collate the responses from your audience. This sort of interactivity brings depth to your campaigns, making it way more effective.
In an era of mobile phones, there might be less than a handful of people who don’t own a mobile phone. Using voice broadcasting completely eliminates the need for a person to be physically present for that particular event. A simple, traditional call allows you to reach and address the mob with greater efficiency.
Elimination of hefty budget
Replacing a physical event into voice broadcasting cuts down on the cost exponentially. Rather than investing a lot of money on different factors that involves uncertainty in the performance of the event, investing in Voice Broadcasting proves to be favourable in terms of the cost incurred and also in terms of the productivity of an event.
Cut down on the time involved
While a conventional event demands a lot of time and human involvement which thereby calls for much more investment of time. Voice Broadcasting can be considered as a simple one-click process.
Voice Broadcasting, when it comes to its mechanism, is one of the simplest techniques to reach out to a large number of people. Owing to its simplicity, security, flexibility, and scalability, it has by far been a vital asset to many political campaigns. Suitable for an array of events ranging from promotional events, polling surveys, personalised messages to general announcements, and many more.
A simple six-step process is what it takes to incorporate Voice Broadcasting into your existing system.
Step 1: Record a voice message.
Step 2: Upload a file of mobile numbers that you wish should receive a call.
Step 3: Add the details of your campaign.
Step 4: Schedule your campaign.
Step 5: Make your campaign live.
Step 6: Access reports at the click of a button to understand the effectiveness of the campaign that can be sorted circle-wise or state-wise.
With a literacy rate of 71% in rural India, one of the most challenging problems is to be able to deliver messages that are understandable. As the major issue faced by the people living in remote/rural areas is the language barrier, implementing voice messaging will eliminate most of the shortcomings of the illiterates. Keeping this as a line of reference, creating a campaign that would keep the majority of the crowd to understand the message becomes crucial.
Voice broadcasting is extremely flexible that lets us run campaigns that would cater to the needs of the mob. Reaching out to a huge mob using a simple, lucid, and a dependable technology would bring success to most of the campaigns. Also, integrating a voice broadcast is as easy as any other physical campaigns.
Smartlink Offered Its Goa Manufacturing Facility for COVID-19 CARE CENTRE
In a bid to control the rapid increase in the number of cases of the Coronavirus in Goa, Mr. K. R. Naik, Executive chairman, Smartlink Holdings Ltd & Founder of Digisol Systems offered his newly purchased factory free of cost to the Verna Industries Association for turning it into a COVID CARE CENTRE for Asymptomatic COVID patients.
Inaugurated on 13th August, this COVID CARE CENTRE is solely managed by Verna Industries Association. The care center is equipped with 140+ Bed Hospice to house only Asymptomatic Positive Patients from Verna Industrial Estate.
This newly converted facility will provide the physical infrastructure, medical furniture, equipment along with Doctors and paramedical staff that will be stationed at the facility round-the-clock.
Mr. Pradip Da’Costa, President, Verna Industries Association and Mr. Damodar Kochkar, President, Goa State Industries Association thanked Mr. K. R. Naik for his exceptional support for this social cause during the pandemic time.
Commenting on this, Mr. K.R. Naik, Executive Chairman, Smartlink Holdings said, “The Coronavirus Cases are rising every day all around us, and it has become important to use every bit of resources we have to fight against it. We at Smartlink are committed to work together and support our country’s efforts to deal with this pandemic. We will continue to utilize our resources to address the urgent needs of those working to combat the threat and impact of COVID-19.”
Smartlink has been always believed in working together and empower every Indian with its offerings. It is one of the few IT networking companies that has been supporting Vocal for Local since its inception. Even during this time of unprecedented uncertainty, the company has taken on the responsibility to help ease the COVID-19 related stress through this initiative and hopes this will help to overcome crisis.
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