The Digital Insurer is very proud to to release this exclusive Case Study on AIA’s development of a market leading tablet toolkit, iPoS. Special thanks to Steffen Schade, the head of group distribution technology at AIA who was the main point of contact at AIA.
AIA’s tablet history
AIA’s first tablet solution was developed in Taiwan in 2011. The Group quickly identified the strategic importance of the tablet toolkit for agency sales and created a dedicated group capability to further develop and roll out the tool. This team revised the architecture and consistently applied 3 principles in the design: Completely paperless; uninterrupted service anytime and anywhere; once and done.
As of Q1 2013 iPoS has been rolled out in an additional 3 countries (Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia) with another 6 countries underway for completion in 2013. Roll out to each country is anticipated to take 6-9 months from sign off to completion.
The functionality is comprehensive
iPoS is a complete end-to-end solution starting from sales introduction and ending with policy submission. Figure 1 provides a summary of the functionality available.
The results have exceeded expectations
It is highly unusual for a company to issue 2 press releases on a piece of technology – but that is what happened when AIA released iPoS in Singapore in 2012. In addition in Jan 2013 AIA published a video on the benefit of iPoS (see below)
When I asked Steffen Schade to provide details of the benefits of iPoS his response was unequivocal:
Some insurers are still viewing tablets as primarily an opportunity for straight through processing with the business case generated from cost savings. The AIA experience should give pause for thought – a great tool was designed that helped advisors to sell more policies and increase case size. The result was high adoption which then generated the platform to realise the efficiency benefits from digitisation of the sales process.
The reported benefits of the solution include:
- Professional and more trustworthy impression on the customer
- Close the deal on the spot without paper and issue the majority of policies within minutes
- Close the deal without the usual ping pong between agent and underwriter, less visits are required and agents become more productive
- Motivation boost for agents. Make agents proud of working for AIA as AIA provides cutting edge sales technology on a tablet. iPoS is a great recruitment tool for the next generation of advisors
- Less underwriting work and infrastructure due to: no data entry, no scanning, no archiving, data is pre-validated by iPoS so there are more straight through cases
- Less printing costs for marketing material, sales quotations, sales illustrations, application forms, underwriting supplements etc. Elimination of associated postage & courier fees
- Tablets are less expensive than laptops.
The net business impact is three-fold:
- Agents close deals faster and submit more cases with higher case size
- Turnaround times are a fraction of paper based approaches
- Back office costs are much lower
AIA, as a listed company, is understandably coy about the exact impact of iPoS on their key business metrics but The Digital Insurer speculates that a significant proportion of the increase in business value is being generated from the successful adoption of iPoS.
How did they do it? And what were the key success factors?
The AIA deployment of tablets has to be defined as an enormous success and one deserving of wide industry recognition. Not only have AIA developed a winning tablet based sales model they have also developed the capability to deploy rapidly across the region.
During the course of the case study 6 key success factors were identified:
- Distribution led – strong sponsorship from Group Distribution head and CEO including placing the technology development within the distribution function
- Strong leadership & support – ongoing and continual support from the head of Group Distribution and the CEO has helped to drive the solution
- Empowerment – The design and execution of iPoS has been led by a small independent team of not more than 4 dedicated professionals. This team has the breadth of experience to be able to define and refine the solution. And they have been empowered to do so – iPoS was not designed by a committee
- Early regionalisation – AIA recognised the power of the solution very early and made the strategic decision to take the software code in-house and build a core software solution that could then be deployed across the region. AIA has a large team of programmers supporting iPoS in Beijing and has evolved the software to include product cloning that makes support for new products a relatively straightforward process
- Learning from the first pilot – After the first pilot in Taiwan a decision was made to move the technology from being online to offline and creating an “anytime, anywhere” solution for advisors. AIA is very clear in their belief that offline capability was a key success factor (The Digital Advisor has written a short piece on the pros and cons of offline and online solutions – this is a hot topic of debate. Read about the connectivity debate)
- Great interface design – Interfaces were mocked up and tested with advisors as part of the design process to make the system simple and intuitive. In all deployments close contact is kept with advisors to ensure the solution will meet their needs. See the recent UI interface article on The Digital Insurer for a more detailed discussion, Read the interface design article
What does the future hold?
AIA has clearly stolen a march on the industry with both the speed and the comprehensive nature of their solution.
What is also clear is that AIA will be expanding the functionality of iPoS and are already collecting far more real data on how advisors are using their tablet toolkit than anyone else. Continued analysis of this data as well as qualitative feedback, combined with regional management of the software through a small dedicated team, will allow the solution to be further improved in the years ahead.
When I asked Steffen what he would have done differently his response was telling,
It is difficult to see how realistically, in the next couple of years at least, the competition can catch up. It will be interesting to see how competitors do respond –because they must.
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By Hugh Terry