MSIG Holdings Asia's Grace Chong on IT trends that affect the insurance business

FY Teng

Security: We are increasingly concerned about cyber threat activities happening around us. Hundreds of millions of customers of global companies were affected by cyber attacks and data theft last year. Our customers are also keenly aware of personal data issues. Consequently, we are constantly reviewing our strategy to combat and improve our response to such threat activities as attackers are getting a lot smarter. Protection against customer information leakage from our organization is key to our brand and reputation. In the area of security, we are looking at working with specialists in security surveillance to boost our defense capability.

Mobility: This is an area with significant potential for customer acquisition, customer contact and transactions. Understanding these potential customer touchpoints, one can leverage the mobility wave to democratize customer access to insurance. We are aligning our investments with the customers' most pressing needs. However, in the highly competitive mobile landscape, we expect a steady stream of new devices, which creates a constant challenge in terms of supportability.  

Internally, mobility keeps staff connected and greatly enhances their productivity. With the proliferation of smartphones and tablets, we have implemented BYOD to create a win-win situation, lowering organization costs while increasing employee satisfaction. We have also invested in MDM to improve our security and management of the devices. The next step for us is to deploy enterprise applications on the mobile platform so that employees can handle important business tasks anytime and anywhere.

What emerging ICT trend are you currently watching closely?
There are several trends which we are closely monitoring. One is the usage of  social media in insurance. We see potential value to be derived from brand awareness, product and customer intelligence and closer engagement with our intermediaries and customers. Another trend is Big Data, which could greatly enhance the business outcome.

What have been your greatest challenges so far as the paramount leader of IT at MSIG and how have you overcome them?
Insurance has traditionally been a conservative and heavily regulated industry. Innovation does not come easy. However, with the digital wave, customer expectations have evolved. They expect multimodal touchpoints. While some customers still value face-to-face interactions, there is a growing expectation of anytime, anywhere service. The business strategies have to stay relevant and the technologies have to support those business strategies. The greatest challenge with playing a regional role is that not all geographies operate the same way and not all markets have the same needs. Therefore, it is crucial to invest right and balance the varying solutions. Staying close to the key stakeholders, including C-level executives and building relationships with the market units ensures that the ICT strategies stay relevant. Monitoring trends not only in the insurance industry but across other industries offer good insights.  Keeping key stakeholders updated on such trends is important.

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