The CIO Interview with MetLife Asia Pacific’s CIO Gary Teh: Driving innovation in insurance sector

Zafar Anjum

Gery Teh

MetLife Asia Pacific’s CIO Gary Teh

MetLife Asia Pacific’s CIO Gary Teh spells out the top three IT challenges the insurance sector faces in Asia today and how to address them.

In your opinion, what are the top three IT challenges the insurance sector is facing in the Asia Pacific region today? And how is MetLife dealing with those challenges?

MetLife sees these top three challenges facing the insurance sector in Asia Pacific.

A)     Rapid changes in technology

The pace of technology change is quickening. While this technology race has been in place for several decades, the pace today makes it critical for insurance companies to be flexible enough to take advantage of technology developments. The challenge is to transition technology architectures to next-generation capabilities, and put in place the enablers to:

  • stay competitive and deliver efficiency in business processes
  • improve operational efficiency and lower costs, while ensuring that it does not degrade the end-user experience
  • become customer-centric organisations, revolving their services and processes more around the needs of customers, and lesser around the profitability of products and silo-ed business functions
  • deliver services and value to customers, especially regarding customisation of products and services to meet changing customer demands

It is important for insurance companies to approach technology not just as an expense or cost to be managed, but more as an investment for future growth.

B)      Managing information overload

The ability for companies to consume and make sense of the customer information that is available (and necessary) to make good business decisions is also a challenge. It is critical to work with this avalanche of information with both technology and skills, then to convert this information into valuable knowledge for the business.

C)      The impact of changing customer needs

Another emerging trend that we see is that insurance companies are moving to build relationships with customers by having conversations that span social, video, and mobile devices. Companies will be challenged to empower systems and staff to respond swiftly to customer needs, and to provide needed information anytime, anywhere and through any channel.

Diverse customer needs, buying behaviours, and product preferences are further changing the way business models and IT strategies function. Insurers must make investments in capabilities and infrastructure to meet the wide range of differing needs.

Young customers tend to be digital and Internet savvy, and inclined toward independent research or peer influence. But baby boomers are working and living longer, and they tend to maintain a preference for more traditional communication models.

MetLife, as a global insurance powerhouse operating in Asia, we are now focused on building out our established best-in-class capabilities, leveraging our strong regional platform and driving distinctive innovation throughout the region to meet the spectrum of customers' needs.

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