Asia is a microcosm of the global evolution of the insurance industry. Rapidly developing markets demand increased protection – of their homes, cars, families and even themselves – but not at any cost. These consumers want high quality products that suit their needs, with easy access and at a competitive price.
Technology is the enabler and as a result, Asia is a hotbed of innovation, revolution and reform for those seeking to digitise their businesses and transform them for the 21st century.
MSIG is one business looking to take a major step forward in the InsurTech revolution in the coming year and Mack Eng, executive VP of business development and digitalisation, is the man charged with that objective.
MSIG manages 14 markets from the regional office in Singapore across ASEAN, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand. These markets are characterised by their diversity, with vastly differing levels of maturity, and the regional office supports the development of the existing business and assists with the implementation of new technology and acquisitions.
Digitalisation lies at the core of the strategy, says Eng, as without it you will not deliver profitable growth. This understanding drove the company to wholeheartedly embrace digital transformation a couple of years ago.
A clear roadmap has been laid out for MSIG’s transformation with its focus on both the developed and emerging markets in the region. The developed markets have taken the lead in digital transformation, in particular, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Thailand and Singapore. These markets are not only making strides in the deployment of InsurTech in the existing value chain, with chatbots and robotic process automation (RPA) but also in how they are going to go about servicing their client base in order to satisfy existing customers while acquiring new ones.
The regional office engages closely with each market to ensure that innovation and new ideas are applied consistently and efficiently to address their respective pain points. This vehicle has a new engine, however, in the form of two global digital hubs (GDHs), located in Singapore and Tokyo.
Supercharged transformation strategy
The GDHs are the driving force behind the company’s innovations, though they have slightly different roles. GDH Tokyo’s focus is on identifying the digitalisation needs of employees and agents, develop new concepts and test and implement them within the business to find new ways of adding value to customers through the use of digital technology and big data. Tokyo will collaborate with startups, develop products and services that help address social issues, and make a contribution to society as laid out by the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs).
GDH Singapore will focus on supporting the development of digital initiatives in the ASEAN region with the enhancement of customer experiences a major focus, in order to meet their needs as digitalisation continues to spread.
Support from the GDHs comes through the communication of best practices and the sharing of digital solutions across markets beyond Asia, says Eng.
“In addition to collating and sharing this knowledge from elsewhere around the world, we will foster innovation through our founding anchor partnership with Plug and Play tech centres in Asia and in Silicon Valley,” says Eng.
The whole digitalisation initiative is far bigger than any one entity, says Eng and so MSIG’s approach relies on “a team effort across different parts of the world trying to bring synergies and optimise opportunities across the region”.
Optimising the value chain
With the GDH acting as an enabler for MSIG’s regional digital transformation efforts, the opportunities will come from new and innovative product areas.
There are a number of exciting new launches to come over the next six to 12 months, Eng assures TDI, but they remain confidential for now.
“However, there are so many opportunities for us as an insurance company to really optimise our efficiency and our effectiveness in the existing value chain,” adds Eng.
RPA is a good example of how MSIG is using technology to improve quality of data and customer experience. In Singapore, RPA has been used to process motor policies and registered travel claims and these areas have seen improved turnaround times of more than 80% and 70% respectively.
Chatbots have been deployed into a couple of markets, and one is now managing around 3,500 enquiries each month.
“This allows our customer service team to really focus on the more complex queries,” says Eng and greatly reduce the frustration of customers waiting for the answer to a simple query.
“These development all go to improve the customer experience and as we deploy these across the markets, so there are huge opportunities for efficiencies and effectiveness in quite a few areas.”
Risk management is a core function in any insurance company and one MSIG is pursuing in “a more disciplined manner”. The use of digital solutions such as telematics, particularly in motor and health, improves the risk assessment process and will deliver better experiences for the majority of customers.
MSIG is not only focused on acquiring customers for itself but is committed to enabling partners to streamline their own sales processes. Allowing them to report information back on the business they write will deliver efficiencies for the financial advisers that work across product ranges, says Eng. This is currently being trialled across a couple of products, with the ambition to extend the range over time.
Know thy enemy
The connection to the InsurTech and fintech startup community is an essential part of the strategy and Eng is looking for allies as the digital economy poses potential threats from large ecosystems who are looking to disrupt incumbent insurers.
Working with Plug and Play gives MSIG access to those companies looking to collaborate with insurance companies to enable them to compete more effectively in the new world order.
These startups allow the company to remain fully digitally enabled and allows the company to continually reinvent itself. Being connected to these centres of innovation will help them optimise for all new opportunities.
“Whilst we have to keep a close eye on the companies that would threaten us, we must continue to focus on servicing our customers well to build customer loyalty through improved experiences so they will want to come back to us time and again for their insurance needs.”
This war against a new and hostile digital environment requires a new breed of soldiers.
“The kind of individuals we are looking for are very different from traditional underwriters or marketeers,” says Eng, and the regional office will look for support from the GDHs, Plug and Play and its network to help to reshape the investment in digital and business capabilities.
The measure of success
Having a roadmap for a strategy is crucial, but there is always a need to determine how far you have come to ensure you remain on course. But what MSIG has refused to do is to take readings from the position of their competitors.
“Understanding what our competition is doing is important,” says Eng, “but we do not use that as a benchmark.
“We want our customers and business partners to have an experience with us that they will treasure. That is our core focus.”
Everything MSIG does is focused on that, says Eng, and looking at ways to use technology to improve customer experience, ultimately, across the whole value chain.
“There are obviously competitors who are doing that as well, but we do not see it as a race against the competition, but a race against ourselves to be the best that we can be on our own terms.”
Eng believes many businesses will start to appraise their position in terms of not only how much they have achieved, but how much more needs to be done.
“The industry now realises we should not undertake digitalisation for the sake of it, but in order to secure our futures,” says Eng. This must be driven from within the leadership of each organisation and supported by staff at all levels if they are to succeed at transforming their business and stay relevant for their customers.
“The momentum has increased and there’s a sense of not just awareness, but urgency, to make sure that we embrace this very quickly in order to capitalise not just on opportunities,” adds Eng. “We need to serve our customers and partners better and we do that by remaining relevant to them.”