Asia's Insurers to Increasingly Leverage Technology in 2010

In the bid to further reduce their reliance on traditional agency networks, Asia/Pacific insurers will continue to seek alternative distribution channels such as bancassurance in 2010, says IDC Financial Insights. The move will also aid them in catering for the divergent buying preferences of policyholders.


"Priorities this year are around managing the agency distribution network. Insurers are likely to scramble to equip distributors with easy-to-use tools and technologies, provide them with self-service marketing applications and incentivize with clear performance metrics. They are also likely to leverage off alternative channel capabilities," comments Li-May Chew, CFA, Senior Research Manager for IDC Financial Insights Asia/Pacific.


IDC says that business innovation via alternative distribution channels (that is, bancassurance, Web portal, self-service kiosks, mobile devices, and other direct marketing models) to reduce reliance on the traditional agency network should bring new efficiencies to the distribution framework and cater to divergent buying preferences of policyholders. Insurers need to leverage off these various channel capabilities, but yet be able to present customers with a cohesive channel message and branding regardless of the mode of interaction selected.


"Meanwhile, there will be an ongoing focus on data management to transform disparate data into actionable information. As a result, insurers are likely to roll-out CRM technologies to gain insights into consumers' behavior and thereby tailor-make better customer experiences," says Chew.


Chew says that insurers need to synchronize valuable but disparate customer information files via data integration and warehousing to create a "single version of truth". Here, they are expected to make strategic investments around mining, standardizing, and transforming of data into valuable information. Such improvements to data quality would provide greater confidence in business process controls, improve planning and management decisions, and help mitigate enterprise risk.


With the economic malaise having driven home the need to create a more dynamic business framework via the assistance of technology, IDC Financial Insights sees the business goals of insurers being infused with an even more distinct technology flavor in 2010. For instance, alternative lines of businesses such as health insurance and microinsurance are poised to become new hotspots for carriers as they attempt to diversify revenue streams, and it is in these areas where technology plays a crucial role for insurers to practically sustain these offerings.


"Change transformation initiatives continue to dominate the agenda. We see insurers innovating in this arena and investing in business process management solutions to alleviate cost and improve processes. There is also a keener interest in alternative technology delivery models such as software-as-a-service (SaaS) and cloud computing which offers a flexible, usage-based charging model," adds Chew.


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