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Tokio Marine Insurans (Malaysia) Berhad ready for new era with technology revamp

CIO Asia Staff Writer | Nov. 16, 2016.

With the pace of competition picking up in the Malaysian insurance industry, insurance providers are making rapid changes to ensure that their systems are ready and robust enough to meet new challenges. The de-tariffication of Malaysia’s general insurance industry is adding impetus to those changes.

“Technology plays a significant role in how we want to run our business. We decided to overhaul our entire infrastructure and processes as there will be increasing demands on our systems, and we wanted a flexible infrastructure conducive to change in place,” said Tokio Marine Insurans (Malaysia) Berhad Chief IT & Operations Officer, Mark Cheng.

Tokio Marine Insurans (Malaysia) Berhad, a member of the Tokio Marine Group, is a leading player in the general insurance industry. Its products include all Motor, Non Motor, Personal Lines & Health.

In developing its transformation blueprint, the insurer placed its initial focus on uplifting its IT infrastructure operational backbone.

“We took a step-by-step approach to making these changes which covers our entire nationwide operation. This started with the strengthening of our backbone and putting in the infrastructure needed to improve our operations,” explained Cheng.

Once that foundation was in place, Tokio Marine Insurans (Malaysia) Berhad enhanced their back- end processing and database management systems. They sped up daily administrative processes whilst ensuring that the changes met with regulatory compliance and service level agreement criteria. The front-end systems will be also upgraded to make it more user-friendly to all levels of intended users.

Key goals

Automating processes was a key early objective. Eliminating manual, non-productive tasks enabled the company to reduce errors whilst allowing them to re-train their talent in areas where human interaction was more valuable.

“It is impossible to rely on manual processes under today’s business expectations,” said Cheng. “Automation also freed up our employees to develop new skills. They are now acquiring expertise in different work areas, and learning from experienced overseas staff we brought in to work alongside our local talent. With this mix, we are leveraging on our global knowledge and adapting it to meet our local market needs.”

A second area of focus was improving Tokio Marine Insurans (Malaysia) Berhad’s communication network. The legacy system was restrictive as it could no longer keep up with today’s business pace. In contrast, the new infrastructure has provided Tokio Marine Insurans (Malaysia) Berhad with a hundredfold increase in speed, thus enabling faster internet access, video-conferencing across multiple locations, and the ability to connect easily with agents and customers.

The upgraded communication infrastructure allowed for the broadening of e-channel services to

enable 24×7 payment channels, one-stop service centres, seamless claims processing and faster responses to queries and complaints using web- based technology.

“Our younger customers, in particular, prefer to use e-channels. However, there are still large portions of our customers who prefer the human touches which come with a more traditional approach,” noted Cheng. “So, there is a need for us to strike a balance between the electronic and traditional services we offer.“

How it was done

The move from legacy to new infrastructure took place in April 2016 and was completed within an eight-week period. The uplift exercise included server, storage, network and IT security upgrades at Tokio Marine Insurans (Malaysia) Berhad’s Kuala Lumpur head office, and this will be expanded to its branches across Malaysia in the near future.

“Our biggest challenge was to complete these changes, which are at the heart of our operations, with minimum disruption to the business and without any downtime,” said Tokio Marine Insurans (Malaysia) Berhad Head of IT Service and Business Operation, Aaron Ooi.

He added, “It was a bold approach in wanting the changes completed within eight weeks. It was business-as-usual as far as our operations were concerned, but we were aware that one minute of downtime could have affected up to 1,000 deals. There would have been reputational risk repercussions had things not been properly carried out. This huge success is a good head start for the next phase of the transformation.“

The aggressive timeline meant that Tokio Marine Insurans (Malaysia) Berhad and its project management partner Bridgenet ended up doing the majority of the physical work overnight. “We were able to tap on Bridgenet’s experience in carrying out such projects,” said Ooi.

As part of the revamp, Tokio Marine Insurans (Malaysia) Berhad engaged Bridgenet to service its IT infrastructure. “Bridgenet provides Tokio Marine with a single point-of-contact for their technology needs,” said Bridgenet Chief Sales Officer, Keane Leong. “As their business partner, we work closely on designing their IT roadmap and advising them on the trends and technology which will most likely suit their objectives.“

Ooi pointed out that such partnership could only work if there was trust. “Bridgenet has proven their commitment to our business with their quick responses. Dell, which provides our desktops, showed similar reliability. When we faced hiccups during the initial deployment, it was promptly resolved,” he said. “We trust them to be readily available when we need them.“

Growth blueprint

Tokio Marine Insurans (Malaysia) Berhad’s transformation has seen it change up to 90% of its equipment. Storage capacity has been vastly increased, its data centre footprint reduced, system productivity is being improved and security upgraded. It has opened up more customer interaction options which are crucial in a mobile world, and enabled more efficient processing.

The result has proved to be highly satisfying, with reduced total cost of ownership, increased productivity, less downtime and improved speed.

More importantly, the transformation has set up Tokio Marine for the future. “Simplicity, scalability and flexibility was embedded into our architecture. It means that we have built an easy-to-use, easy-to-manage system which allows for business expansion,” explained Ooi. “This architecture is able to integrate new and old technology, and is adaptable. It gives us the option of adding on technology we may not be using today, but anticipate using in the near future, such as cloud.“

“The investment we have made provides us with the capability of doing more with customers, big data, predictive analytics and might even change the way we work,” Cheng added. “I personally believe that we should aim for mobility in work. With a strong platform, it will be possible to do so.“