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From PingAn’s inspiration to HDFC ERGO’s journey: Building an insurance-based ecosystem

By Michael Jacobides, Anubhab Goel, Dalbert Ma, Aryan Mittal

Beginning with an exploration of insurance player Ping An’s evolution to contrast with HDFC ERGO’s strategy adaptation to the Indian market, this case sheds light on HDFC ERGO’s strategic shift towards a mindshare-centric ecosystem from its roots as a digitised insurance provider in India.
The case starts with Ping An, which is perhaps the best-known successful example of an insurance-based multi-product (and multi-actor) ecosystem. It looks at Ping An’s journey, emphasising its digital transformation, ecosystem expansions and technology integration. It then turns to HDFC ERGO, which aimed to create its own ecosystem, and considers the similarities and differences. Drawing parallels and contrasts with India’s burgeoning startup ecosystem and the transformative India Stack, HDFC ERGO crafted unique strategic principles. It emphasised avoiding direct competition, offering tangential value, filling market voids and balancing mindshare with value. Utilising internal capabilities and market insights, HDFC ERGO focused on healthcare, leveraging data and digital infrastructure. The development of the ‘Here’ app exemplifies the company’s strategic prowess, aligning healthcare solutions with customer preferences.
The case illuminates HDFC ERGO’s meticulous approach to tailoring an ecosystem strategy amid shifting market dynamics and technological landscapes, and shows how it built its multi-actor ecosystem in various verticals to support its multi-product ecosystem play. It showcases the company’s adeptness in adapting strategies while embracing innovation, resonating with market needs to forge a unique path in the evolving digital insurance realm.
This case study stands on its own, offering valuable lessons on strategic planning and execution in the rapidly evolving digital and consumer landscapes. However, when taught in conjunction with its sister case “HDFC ERGO: A product ecosystem built on mindshare” (LBS CS-24-009), students can gain a comprehensive understanding of both the macro-strategic vision and the micro-level steps that underpin HDFC ERGO’s ecosystem approach. This complementary perspective enriches the learning experience, illustrating not just the ‘why’ and ‘what’ of HDFC ERGO’s shift towards ecosystem building but also the ‘how’ of its implementation, which is what this case focuses on.
This case sheds light on two sets of topics that are not covered in the previous case. First, it looks at the choices a firm needs to make as it builds an ecosystem: Which parts of it need to or should be built by itself?

Learning objectives

  1. Understand the differences between multi-product and multi-actor ecosystems and why firms might want to evolve from product-focused firms to ecosystem plays, with broader scope and also engaging other parties as part of the value-add process.
  2. Apply the framework looking at the evolution of Ping An from an insurance provider to a multifaceted ecosystem, drawing insights into its strategic shifts, technology adoption and customer-centric approach.
  3. Assess the competitive landscape and digital transformation in the Indian insurance market, exploring the challenges and opportunities faced by HDFC ERGO in formulating its, ecosystem strategy, and evaluate the significance of the India Stack and its layers in shaping the digital landscape and fostering innovation in the Indian financial sector as an example of ecosystem landscape analysis leading to a determination of how HDFC should compete.
  4. Examine HDFC ERGO’s unique approach to ecosystem-building, based on four key principles, and the strategic decisions taken to create a tailored ecosystem for the Indian market as an example of a firm’s ecosystem approach.
  5. Understand HDFC ERGO’s digital capabilities, technological partnerships and data-utilisation strategies in shaping its ecosystem strategy to offer insight into the capabilities underpinning ecosystem plays.


Publication Date: April 2024
LBS Case Code: CS-24-010
Subjects: , , , , , , ,
Pages: 29
Format: pdf