Digital transformation was the key to most companies’ survival during the pandemic even for heavily-regulated industries such as life insurance. However, it comes with its own challenges.
One of them, strict government regulations, could potentially hinder companies from fully-transforming digitally but Insular Life (InLife) views them as opportunities to partner with government units and industry associations.
“There are strict policies with regards ecommerce, data privacy and capitalization requirements which could, in a way, constrain the product development process or affect how we design the customer experience or how quickly we want to adopt new technologies,” said InLife First Vice President and Chief Technological Officer Gwendolyn D. Kelley.
Kelley identified two other factors that could deter companies from embracing digital transformation: cyber security and maturity of the buying public. “Putting in place a very secured platform that’s open to the public costs a lot.” Aside from this, the readiness of the public to adopt or adjust to new technology must be considered. “An innovation cannot be successful if people will not use it.”
She noted that even with these constraints, it was not difficult for InLife to pivot during the pandemic. “We have built a robust technical architecture starting in 2015 when we implemented the Automated Underwriting System (AUS), a first in the industry, and replaced our core insurance system with enhanced technology.” The AUS allowed InLife to issue policies in about 30 minutes, which used to take them days to accomplish.
Later, the Company developed its Customer Portal, a self-service online servicing platform that allows its customers to pay premiums, switch funds, withdraw funds, take out policy loans, or withdraw dividends on their own. These are services which proved to be vital to their customers during the pandemic when the community quarantine for most areas in the country was imposed. “We further expanded our customer channels by putting in place chat platforms and a chatbot in our Facebook messenger account,” added Kelley.
One of the key factors, aside from the acquisition of the AUS, was InLife’s adoption of the Agile mindset in solutions development. “That paved the way for us to prioritize high value projects, increase collaboration and quickly deliver solutions and products required by the business.”
One of the important results is the launch of the company’s e-store, the InLife Store (https://www.inlifestore.com.ph/) which complemented the Company’s presence in Lazada.
Right now, she said InLife is working on automating more processes and implementing new tools that would enhance productivity, expand its e-commerce business, and improve customer experience. “
This pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges to companies, big and small, but for InLife’s Kelley, digital transformation must be embraced by everyone in the organization. For her, the three important factors that businesses must have in order to take advantage of digital transformation are: Top Management’s foresight, important partnerships, and ability to harness the benefits of technology with the right skills and mindset.
“First, our top management’s foresight enabled InLife to set up the InLife Virtual Business Enabler (InLife ViBE) which allowed our financial advisers to pursue their work of educating and providing insurance protection for Filipinos. Second, we need to be open as an organization in partnering with other companies who can help us expand our presence or provide plug & play services that will improve our customer journeys. Third, we need to be an agile organization that can quickly & collaboratively implement new technologies and execute initiatives to enhance customer experience, improve operational efficiency and achieve its goals.”