How Sun Life International is digitally disrupting insurance services in Indonesia
Since 1995, PT Sun Life Financial Indonesia (Sun Life) has provided clients with a comprehensive range of protection and wealth management products, including life insurance, education insurance, health insurance, and retirement plans. At Sun Life, its purpose is clear: to help clients achieve lifetime financial security and live healthier lives.
Sun Life services close to one million clients and has a multi-distribution network of more than 9,400 insurance advisors across Indonesia, serviced through a network of 132 conventional and 49 shariah marketing offices.
Over the past decade, every industry has seen dramatic changes and the life insurance industry is no exception to this digital disruption.
As Sun Life set out on its digital transformation journey, its greatest asset was a visionary leadership steered by Elin Waty, President Director of Sun Life Financial Indonesia.
She assumed her role at the helm of the company in 2015, after 24 years of experience in the life insurance industry in Indonesia. Before joining Sun Life, she held senior roles in various fields, including sales, marketing, and operations at several of Indonesia’s top life insurance companies.
Her excellent leadership at Sun Life has been honoured with numerous prestigious awards, namely The Best Achievement CEO for Insurance Category from Women’s Obsession magazine and she was also listed as 100 Business Woman of The Year by SWA magazine – one of prominent business and marketing magazines in Indonesia.
Waty feels that the biggest change is the clients’ expectation. “The highest expectation today of every client, whether it comes to insurance or any other service, is the ability to get the service anytime, anywhere that is convenient to them,” she says. “A decade ago, if a client called our customer service line and was told to come into one of our offices or heard a recorded message asking to call back tomorrow, they’d accept it. Today, the same client heard that message, they’d question it.”
As the client expectations have changed, so too has the role and function of IT and indeed the CIO role itself.
Ashvin S. Uttamsingh, Sun Life’s Chief Information Officer (CIO) in Indonesia, has witnessed this changing client and evolving landscape first hand. Traditionally, IT was a support function, ensuring system stability and availability it acted as an order executer. Today, IT teams are business partners that add real value. “We’re now technology evangelists,” says Uttamsingh. “IT is now part of the solution and we are now bringing opportunities and solutions to existing core business problems.”
As Sun Life embarked on its digital transformation, it set out to ensure a mindset change, retooling the team to become agile and making them “focused, fast and furious in our thinking.”
Indonesia is an archipelago with a population of around 260 million people. A changing demographic of a younger generation with 178 million smartphone users, coupled with technology advancement, are the key drivers of Sun Life’s Digital transformation Journey. “This is a journey defined by mobile technology,” says Uttamsingh, “We have a relentless focus on doing more for our clients and advisors.”
Sun Life has a comprehensive roadmap for this digital transformation which is broken into multiple streams, each focused on that core desire of doing more for clients and advisors.
Sun Life’s digital transformation continues to deliver success. The company has launched multi-platform mobile applications with comprehensive features for clients and advisors. Take, for instance, client app My Sun Life. My Sun Life is continuously updated with new client-centric features and is the cornerstone of the company’s approach to doing more for the customer. This has been well received by clients, as evidenced by its 4.4/5 rating on the Google Play Store.
Sun Life was also the first in the Indonesia Life Insurance market to launch Sun Recruit, a multi-platform digital end-to-end recruitment and training mobile application for new advisors.
For Uttamsingh, the successes of Sun Life are defined by one thing – the people. “We are focused and collaborate together on delivering our purpose,” he says. “At Sun Life, IT is part of the larger enterprise services, a value-add business partner. Sun Life has a core technology team in the country and is supported by required expertise and variable resourcing in its shared services located in the Philippines and India.
“Our current applications already provide informational and transactional capabilities; we are continuously improving the experience with design thinking and adding new features,” says Uttamsingh. “With our relentless focus on doing more, we aim to provide more customised intelligent services based on relevant data.”
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“It’s all about moving from informational to transactional and then ultimately, moving towards intelligent services based on client usage,” he says. “Look at Google: Google displays information that is relevant to you as a searcher, rather than generic information and this is a result of data collection over time.”
Without a shadow of a doubt, data is king and so Sun Life is investing heavily in implementing technology solutions to be able to disseminate information as quickly as possible in order to enable a better client experience. “The only way for us to get to the intelligence part of our goal is to analyse data,” he says.
To this end, Sun Life turns to one of its biggest assets in Indonesia: social media. With Facebook likes exceeding one million, social media is one of the company’s most powerful tools and Sun Life sees it as an opportunity not only to understand more about the client but to take social engagement and turn it into ‘clients for life.’
Sun Life, first and foremost, is an insurance company. It is not inherently a technology company and as it invests more and more in technology to better serve its clients, it does so with the help and guidance of key partners.
“We rely on technology partners whose bread and butter is technology,” he says. "We leverage their R&D and expertise in delivering a better experience for our clients”.
“At Sun Life, we have a zero tolerance on client data exposure, and we collaborate with industry leaders, which share the same value and ensure industry-grade security.”
As technology continues to radically evolve and redefine both insurance providers and the insurance client, Sun Life’s digital transformation journey will never truly end. It cannot and Uttamsingh understands this. “It’s a journey and we have a relentless focus to do more for our valued client and advisors. And our success is reflected in our net promoter scores.”
“One of the things which is closest to our heart is the promise we made to our clients and we will be there at their time of need.”
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