IDC Financial Insights holds an annual Asian Insurance Congress (AIC) every August on the premise of providing insurance executives from across Asia/Pacific a platform to discuss the core business, operational, risk and technology issues that they were championing. This year's event, our 4th Congress, took place on 25th August in Singapore and saw overwhelming success as usual.
Strategic Areas and Initiatives
With a catchment of more than 180 insurance executives in the room, we obviously seized the opportunity to poll the delegates on the strategic areas and technology initiatives they were advocating, emerging trends they were keeping a close watch on, and conversely, the core challenges they were tackling.
Herein, on a question on the areas strategically astute insurers across ASEAN were gravitating towards in the coming 12 months, it seems that - with a score of 4.03 out of the maximum possible 5 - they continue to drive efforts in customer-centric undertakings to cater to an increasingly mature and demanding pool of clientele with the preference for individualized attention, products, services, and pricing (See Figure 1).
Corresponding closely to this is a focus on 'data integration and analytics', illustrating the need to further bank on having sufficiently clean but consolidated customer data and the availability of analytical tools. These allow for insurers to refine customer experiences through more granular segmentation, differentiated customer service, and provide additional points of reference such as a better understanding of policyholders' life-cycle orientation and the impact of recent events on their insurance requirements. Insurers in more developed nations such as Singapore are finding it especially crucial to articulate and deliver successful customer-centric projects given that it is more cost effective to focus on existing policyholder retention and in increasing their wallet share of these than it is to capture brand-new customers.
Such a concerted focus on data, analytics and customer centricity has the insurers channeling monies into CRM software tools and applications, and employing external consultants and systems integrators to supplement internal resources. We anticipate technology and services for business or consumer analytics continuing to be adopted at a vigorous pace amongst insurers here in the region.
Meanwhile, 'compliance and risk management' also continues to hover at the top of the strategy list, despite – or perhaps because of – the current uncertain economic climate, coupled with the fact that our global markets have grown increasingly entwined and riskier by the year. A focus on regulatory compliance, risk assessment, and risk mitigation would be reflected in risk-savvy insurers demonstrating proactive risk stewardship, conducting internal risk trainings, and making selective investments in fraud management systems.
And finally, coming in at a close forth in terms of strategic areas of focus is the 'alternative distribution channels' which superseded the scores of traditional agency network and bancassurance. This is indeed in line with our prediction earlier this year on insurers' top 10 strategic initiatives where we mentioned that "The advent of electronic channels and the emergence of a technologically savvy consumer generation are radically changing the distribution strategies of insurers. Efforts around channel innovation and alternative distribution outreach, such as the Internet, mobile, and direct marketing, are extremely relevant in the context of reducing distribution costs and enabling insurers to provide affordable insurance to the masses."
For instance, using high-technology interactive touch-points including Web 2.0 applications such as social tools including social networking sites (Facebook and LinkedIn) and blogs to promote products to the Gen Y clientele appears to be the hottest flavor of the season, with the session on social media at AIC 2011 garnering one of the most positive feedback.
About Asian Insurance Congress (AIC) 2011
The agenda of this year's AIC revolves around the theme “Ascension of Asian Insurers up the Global Order” which we think is very apt, given that our regional peers are holding their own and no longer playing second fiddle to their international counterparts, and have been expanding aggressively in their home continents and abroad. This full day knowledge-centric and networking conference for insurers across this region witnessed in excess of over 200 managerial to C-level insurance executives and technology vendors in attendance. The presentation sessions were both informative and thought-provoking, featuring sessions such as: the ascendance of emerging Asia, return of an emphasis on customer centricity, the new risks but conversely additional opportunities being engendered by innovative technologies, and on the role of social media in insurance.
Presenters also spoke on themes revolving round alternative delivery models and new growth hotspots, technological innovation, and issues and concerns over regulations, risk management and security. I likewise took the opportunity to take to stage to share our in-house analysis of the insurance landscape in 2011 and beyond.
I personally enjoyed and learnt a great deal from the almost two dozen visionary practitioners who spoke at AIC 2011 and several of their pointers continued to resonate in my mind after the sessions. As with all IDC Financial Insights' events, feedback from the delegates have been overwhelmingly positive, as evident from the event feedback we have collated and post-event commentary I have received.
Thank you once again for those who attended and I look forward to welcoming you back to AIC 2012 in August next year! For those of you who could not be at AIC 2011, have a peek at http://www.idc.com.sg/insurecongress/2011/ to see what you missed out on.
Note: Do look out for our forthcoming report entitled: "Business Strategy: Regional Insurance Survey - Taking Stock of ASEAN Trends at Mid-point". This survey document contains the full results and correlated implications around the 89 respondents' strategic areas of focus and technology initiatives, IT spending directions, emerging trends of interest, and pain-points specific to their roles and responsibilities.