MNI Gears Up For Rapid Growth With Windows-Powered InsureConnect Solution
We view transformation as a journey. And in this journey, it is imperative to get the right systems to make the journey smoother. This will enable us to achieve our objectives in the most efficient mannerMohd Najib Hj. AbdullahCEO/Director
Incorporated in 1970, Malaysia National Insurance Berhad (MNI) has in just over three decades become the largest Malaysian composite insurer. With an asset base of over RM8 billion, MNI offers both general and life insurance designed to cover businesses, individuals, properties and assets.
Being a customer-centric organization, MNI focuses on the needs of its customers - businesses or individuals, and it has taken steps to adopt an aggressive information technology policy to ensure that it can maintain its competitive edge.
MNI saw that a crucial element in its future success was the development of a powerful brand that will attract and retain customers long-term. To achieve this goal, the company initiated a business transformation process for both its general and life insurance businesses.
MNI has begun reaping the rewards of its business re-engineering program. It has now significantly enhanced its information technology systems, processes, products and services, and is pro-actively building a customer-centric and performance-driven work culture.
However prior to this, MNI had been confronted with a number of serious challenges from within and outside the company. Externally, the impact of globalization, industry consolidation, lower profit margins and rising consumer expectations put pressure on MNI, explains MNI CEO Mohd Najib Haji Abdullah. Internally, the insurer had to grapple with issues such as agent's low productivity and escalating staff cost.
In the Life Division, many business processes were manual which resulted in low productivity. In fact almost 70 percent of MNI's Life Insurance business staff were involved in processing work. This means that in order to keep pace with business growth, MNI had to increasethe number of staff as the bulk of processing work was done manually.
Operationally, MNI had over the years acquired a diverse set of information technology systems and processes leading to fragmentation of resources. For example, its Individual Life products were supported on three different IT systems while its General & Group Life products weresupported on two separate systems, of which one was not flexible to cater for dynamic changes in business requirement.
In the case of MNI's Life Transformation Program, its key strategy was to increase revenue and productivity, and technology was seen as the enabler to achieve this."We view transformation as a journey. And in this journey, it is imperative to get the right systems to make the journey smoother. This will enable us to achieve our objectives in the most efficient manner,"says Mohd Najib.Specifically, MNI identified the Microsoft Windows platform as a crucial component for the overall transformation process; and was looking for a proven solution that would run on Windows and able to integratewith existing back-end systems. According to Ahmad Kassim, MNI's Senior Vice President-Life Insurance Business, integration to back-end systems would be easier under the Windows platform, and solutionswould be more cost effective and easier to support. In addition, partners and agents would be more familiar with the user friendly Windows interface.After an extensive evaluation, MNI chose CMS I-Systems Berhad's (www.isys.com.my) awards winning solution called InsureConnect, a web-based, end-to-end intelligent insurance services automation solution developed on the Microsoft ASP and .NET platforms, along with iPOS, an insurance Point-of-Sales System.InsureConnect automates core business processes including lead generation, financial planning, sales, underwriting, customer service, claims management, channel management and training.The Sales Force Automation (SFA) project implemented by MNI includes CMS I-Systems' two flagship products, InsureConnect and iPOS. Modules such as Proposal Submission, Auto Underwriting, Underwriting Workbench, Partner Self Service, Channel Management and TrainingManagement are designed to streamline and automate processes throughout the life insurance value chain. By integrating these modules with various systems including LifeAsia; Capsil; GHL NetMerchant; Siebel CRM and FileNet Document Management system, MNI will be able to offer integrated services for all aspect of sales and services, instead of requiring additional Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) to provide the required services.The implementation started in September 2003 and rolled out to production in January 2005. InsureConnect runs on Windows 2000 Server and Microsoft SQL Server 2000. On the client side, it operates on Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0, Access 2000 Runtime, Power Point Viewer and Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0. A Pentium Xeon 2.5 Ghz (4 CPUs) server houses the database server while the application server is running on a Pentium Xeon 2.8 Ghz (4 CPUs) unit.InsureConnect is deployed as a front-end and middle-office system, and its client-centric data warehouse providing optimized online access and serves as the central information repository by intelligently integratinginformation from different systems, as well as processing critical information such as Total Sum Assured at Risk in a real time manner.iPOS acts as a mobile system for contact management, lead generation, financial needs analysis, sales illustration and proposal capturing with electronic signature. It empowers MNI's agents to effectively close sales at any point in time, reducing the turn around time. iPOS is being rolled out progressively to MNI's 3,100 life insurance agents."With iPOS on their notebook computers, our agents can key in customers' information offline and submit information from their homes, offices or any hotspot. The built-in auto underwriting feature in InsureConnect enables Policy Information Page to be issued on the spotthrough integration with LifeAsia, Siebel and GHL Payment Gateway, achieving 'Straight Through Processing' without human intervention for standard cases," says Ahmad. As standard cases comprise about 70 per cent of MNI's life insurance policies issued annually, the 'Straight Through Processing' capability has greatly enhanced MNI's overalloperational efficiency.The Partner Self-Service module, on the other hand, enables agents to effectively service their clients better without them having to call the CSRs. They can now communicate through email, online circulars and news updates. It empowers agents to get the policy and client details online as well as checking production and commission achieved without depending on the CSRs which reduces the operation cost significantly."InsureConnect under the Microsoft platform is a scalable architecture which enables our customers to effectively extend its existing infrastructure investment as their business grows. It also easily integrates with Microsoft Office products," says Kevin Steer, CMS ISystemsBerhad Chief Technology Officer.Steer adds: "Our customers need a platform that delivers high reliability, lowers total cost of ownership and reduces overall management and operating costs. The Microsoft platform is an ideal fit."
Streamline Processes, Eliminating Inefficiency
With InsureConnect, MNI has been able to effectively tackle the productivity problem affecting the company. The solution has automated various manual business processes; reduced data-entry duplication and errors, and paper usage.
Agents are now able to do financial needs analysis and generate quotations wherever the customers are, and submit proposals online via notebook computers or PCs. They will no longer need to fill up forms by hand and then submit the forms to MNI for underwriting.
InsureConnect's unique "Straight-Through Processing" capability forwards proposals submitted by various distribution channels for automatic underwriting and contract issuance. Consistency in underwriting decisions through the ingenious auto-underwriting engine, enables underwriters to concentrate on more complex proposalsor the high net worth clients. This increases the efficiency and the productivity of the staff.
Under the manual process, standard cases would typically take up to two weeks to process. Now, it can be done on the spot. By slashing the turnaround time for policy issuance, MNI has gained a tremendous competitive edge by enhancing the quality of service to its customers.
"To be a dominant player in the insurance industry, you have to be efficient and effective in your service," says Ahmad.
By leveraging on the Internet capability, MNI is able to facilitate the dissemination of useful information to its distribution channels whom can access it anytime, anywhere.
Previously, disseminating information to agents was a paper-based and laborious affair. For example, production and persistency reports, and commission statements were printed out and sent to agency managers who would then distribute it to their respective agents.
Now, group agency managers, unit managers and agents can go online and check on their production status, which is as current as the day before. Previously, they had to wait about 3 weeks for the report. For group agency managers and unit managers, being able to monitor their agents' production on a timely basis is critical to the business. This allows them to better monitor, manage and motivate their agency staffto become more productive.
Having such reports available online instead of distributing hardcopies means that MNI can enjoy savings in terms of reduced paper costs and courier charges.
Facilitates Business Expansion
Automating key business processes means that MNI can scale its business operations without having to increase the number of staff. "As InsureConnect automates manual processes, I am no longer worried about how big the business volumes are as I don't need to increase mystaff force proportionally."
This means that MNI can easily handle rapid business growth with the existing staff force. By investing in the right technology, MNI is able to "tackle the productivity problem which existed previously," Ahmad adds.
For example, even though the volume of MNI's life insurance business has risen, it doesn't need to increase its underwriters primarily because of InsureConnect's auto-underwriting functionality.
According to Ahmad, almost 70 per cent of the 125 staff in MNI's Life Insurance Business is involved in processing task. With InsureConnect, he envisages the number of staff handling processing task to eventually drop to about 30 per cent. "Our strategy is to redeploy those doing processing to more productive work such as sales. Without this new technology, we would need to employ more staff if we wanted to increase our revenue. This would eat into our profits," he explains.
Ahmad acknowledges that running InsureConnect on the Windows platform will help MNI achieve its goal of becoming the lowest cost insurer in the industry.
Last Updated: Friday, December 06, 2005