Harel Insurance is a corporate giant in Israel. With over five thousand employees, three million customers and managing 70 billion dollars of assets, Harel is the largest health insurance firm in the country. However, when a company deals with such an enormous volume of transactions, making changes is often a major challenge.

When I started my role as a CTO at Harel Insurance, I was lucky enough to receive a gift. Our connection with SOSA has helped us a great deal with innovation in more ways than one.” That was one of the first statements Niv Raz, Harel Chief Technology Officer, made when I sat down with him and Eyal Efrat, Harel’s Deputy CEO and Chief Information Officer, recently to discuss how their company is integrating new technologies to stay ahead of the pack in the industry.

Innovation comes with great responsibility; the insurance industry is a fast growing market,” says Eyal. “Keeping a lead in it requires the ability to move fast when experimenting with new solutions. Innovation is not a digital transformation; it’s all about understanding the business needs and translating them into solutions.”

Open Innovation Forum at SOSA

In general, the insurance industry overall could be considered one of the prime candidates for innovation. Some of its processes date back decades and have a good deal of red tape involved. One of the key questions is which area of services a company should look to modernize.

We are focusing our efforts at innovating the post-service and onboarding customer experience,” says Niv. “Harel is enacting a faster, data driven approach to create processes which are customer centric. We are doing this through automation that we have integrated into several points along the way when we are in contact with our brokers and clients. We’re expanding automation practices in other channels as well by pioneering the use of bots, for example on WhatsApp and Telegram. This empowers our clients by giving them the ability to get answers and even services automatically while on the go, all powered by artefact intelligent chatbot.”

To meet these and other demands, Harel has developed several partnerships with startups SOSA has introduced them to. Three of the outstanding business collaborations have been with:

  1. Glassbox has created new form of customer interaction analysis. Harel works with them to identify which of its many processes is a candidate for new tech integration.
  2. Reactful delves into the nuts and bolts of the customer experience by using AI which reacts to user’s real-time behavior. This information is used in Harel’s automation processes.   
  3. Kyron, with the use of AI, deals with the actual RPA (robotic process automation) for Harel.

Innovation must be a managed process,” says Eyal. “New concepts are great, but without a managed process they won’t come to fruition or, even worse, merely remain a vision.”

Niv says there is a method to innovation, what he describes as a roadmap that needs to be implemented each time from scratch. “The first step is to identify the business requirements. Then, a need to scout the various technologies and which ones can be adapted to the insurance industry, define a clear and tight schedule to complete the proof of concept phase and finally, understand the challenges we would face if we decide to adopt the technology. SOSA’s knowledge and insight of the startup ecosystem is invaluable to success.”

Harel takes an active part in many SOSA activities on a regular basis, including specially organized “Demo Days.” These highly curated events are designed to expose firms to new technologies by giving relevant startups the opportunity to present in front of the company’s decision makers.

Niv Raz, CTO at Harel Insurance

I think that Demo Days are great for Harel,” states Niv. “Once every quarter, SOSA organizes 4 to 5 startups that can be relevant to Insuretech to speak to our decision makers. From our perspective, we get our people to step out of their offices and sometimes their comfort zones to speak to people on the cutting edge of tech and potentially transposing it to the Harel ecosystem. It is here where SOSA’s scouting efforts pay off for us, with an unbelievable conversion rate of roughly 1 to 5, which means we start to work with at least 1 new startup at the end of each demo day at SOSA – an unheard-of conversion rate.” 

From the startups’ point of view, this can be an amazing business opportunity. “Most startups don’t have the wherewithal to even approach a corporate entity like Harel,” claims Niv, “SOSA has the ability and knowledge to mediate the goals and methods to achieve them for both sides.”