Technology will change the entire gamut of HR practices

My journey, as I look back over the years, is something that I really cherish it has been quite a ride.


One of the most significant efforts to drive customer focus and drive employee behavior in line with Aviva values, was a gamification effort. The learning initiatives have been moved to digital platforms. ‘Learning labs’ for employees to share innovations & new ideas have been initiated. A lot of learning interventions are designed around new age skills and are being delivered through gamification/ simulations via digital platforms. Customer sessions were organized for employees across levels & functions for them to understand the customers ‘perspective about Aviva.

In an exclusive interview with Amit Malik, Chief People, Operation and Customer Service Officer, Aviva Life Insurance talks about the need for employees to upskill and re-skill in the insurance sector, technology changing HR practices, the role of artificial intelligence(AI) and machine learning (ML).Edited excerpts from his interview.

How has been your journey as an HR professional and how it has evolved over the period of time?

My journey, as I look back over the years, is something that I really cherish it has been quite a ride. Along the way, I have experienced joy & self-doubt, have had leaders who were great to work with and learn from, others who taught me what not to do. Naturally, HR teams and how they do things have also evolved. In the last few years, digitalization has disrupted almost all industries and sectors and our role has transformed and has become more refined and challenging at the same time. HR’s effort to digitize its function has traditionally focused on making the HR professional more effective and efficient. More recently, the changed environment is demanding HR to start with the customer in mind. The need to understand what drives the employees is not the end.

How is technology disrupting insurance sector?

Insurance in India has had a slower rate of ‘digital’ adaptation than some of the other industries. Insurance companies in India have relied more on traditional sales channels like direct/ agency and bancassurance. The communication with customers has also been, by and large, driven through traditional channels. With the space becoming more competitive, traditional insurers have realized that they need to be where the customers are, that is, online.

How is technology changing HR practices?

Most organizations today recognize that analytics has great potential to create a competitive advantage. Technology has given HR professionals tools that help reduce administrative tasks so that they can focus on issues that require more hands-on attention. With more millennials entering the workforce, the trend of job hopping has grown and has made retaining talent a key business problem.  While retention is a challenge, the rapid technological disruptions mean business models have evolved at a breathtaking pace. This also means that the shelf-life for most skills is now very low and reskilling of the workforce will take Centre stage. Technology will change the entire gamut of HR practices, right from how we hire/ attract talent to building them (learning ecosystem is largely moving towards digital platforms), to how we manage performance (within 2 decades of becoming the most popular system, bell curves have now been discarded by a lot of organizations).The future of almost all the industries is going to be data-driven, and possibly machine-driven. At the end of the day, while data analytics will throw up valuable insights and predictions, it will be the role of HR professionals to contextualize and implement them, given the organizational realities and practical challenges and it is his responsibility to leverage the power of data and deliver a strong business value for the organization.

How are technologies such as AI, ML going to enhance the inherent skills of employees?

The general perception with respect to technologies such as AI and ML is that they are going to cut jobs. However, I genuinely believe that these technologies will create a more intelligent workforce. And thus it becomes extremely important to educate employees on how to leverage AI so they can focus on more strategic and high-value skills. While these technologies will help you do away with the redundancy which lies among various aspects of business functions, it will also pave ways for more evolved and intelligent jobs.

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