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Insurers in Asia are accelerating their digital transformation strategies

May Knight, Accenture’s financial services insurance management consulting lead in Asia-Pacific | Jan. 27, 2016
To maintain a competitive advantage in a disruptive marketplace, insurers in Asia-Pacific need to move swiftly and assertively, says Accenture's May Knight.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

Across Asia, insurers are accelerating their plans to become more digital. As customers increasingly use connected devices and expect speedy, efficient service they demand digitally-driven service. Insurers, meanwhile need to truly leverage data and analytics tools and digital-first distribution models to better understand what customers want and maintain competitiveness.

According to an Accenture report, titled "Reimagining insurance distribution: Insurers accelerate the shift to a radically different distribution model," nearly half (45 percent) of 400 insurers surveyed globally say that connected devices will be a driver of revenue growth in the next three years.

In Asia-Pacific, one-third of the insurers surveyed have already launched, or about to launch, products (or at least test pilots) offering digital products using health and fitness monitors or other wearable technology. Twenty percent of the Asia-Pacific insurers surveyed said they had piloted or launched a connected home/buildings offering.

It should come as no surprise that introducing services based on Internet of Things (IoT) technologies is among the top investment priorities for insurers - Asian consumers are increasingly digitally connected and savvy. They are already relying on wearables, apps and smartphones to track their footsteps or workouts, and connected devices in homes are on the rise. Insurers are increasingly using customer data obtained from IoT connected devices and applying analytics to make more informed decisions on how to interact with their customers, as well as what types of products to offer.

But for many customers, the first step is simply interacting with their insurers digitally. Fifty-two percent of insurers surveyed in Asia-Pacific said the ease of applying for/buying insurance is the element of the customer experience they need to improve the most to be competitive in the current market. And 43 per cent said the clarity and relevance of product information needed improvement. This can be achieved, in part, by designing more user-friendly internet and mobile-phone friendly sites.

Asia-Pacific insurers are consistent with their peers in trying to up their game digitally. More than half (52 percent) of insurers surveyed globally said they expect to have a wholly digital sales process within the next three years. But only one in four have this in place today.

In China, we are seeing the digitisation of the insurance industry most vividly. Consider that in 2013 Zhong An Online Property and Casualty Insurance became the country's first online insurance company. In July, the China Insurance Regulatory Commission approved the establishment of three new online insurance companies. Non-traditional players are beginning to disrupt the market.

In order to remain competitive, insurers need to re-imagine their product distribution, use and interaction with customers. Digital needs to play a role at every stage of the sales process, and it needs to be used to get to know customers better and provide services and solutions.


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