Andrew Hellard is a Product Marketing Manager, based in Columbus, OH. His focus is on the insurance industry worldwide. His responsibilities include go-to-market strategy for insurance, as well evolving Inspire to meet the changing needs of Quadient's insurance customers. He has around 10 years of experience in insurance, as well as 15 years of experience in software development and team leadership. He holds a Bachelor of Science from Miami University and a Masters of Business Administration from The Ohio State University.
It is one thing to look at a map and recognize the geographic and linguistic challenges inherent in serving the full Asia-Pacific market, it’s quite another to experience those challenges for yourself. Back in late August, I wrapped up a two-week tour of Quadient’s markets in the APAC region.
During that time I visited Hong Kong, Sydney and Shanghai. Quadient (at that time GMC Software) hosted a number of insurance roundtable events in Hong Kong and Sydney, to which I added customer visits in Shanghai. My goal in this trip was to better understand this massive market, and also to compare the insurance challenges there with the challenges in other major markets.
To put the geographic space into perspective, a flight from Hong Kong to Sydney takes around ten hours. A flight from Sydney to Shanghai takes almost eleven. Due to these distances, the insurance markets in this region are intensely local.
Hong Kong, Australia and China all host robust domestic insurers, as well as branches of the large multinationals. That being said, APAC insurers are struggling with the same digital and customer experience challenges as other regions. In China, for example, startup insurers are challenging larger incumbents because the startups have business agility that their competition lacks.
These startups are full service insurers, in direct contrast to what we see in the US and EMEA, where Insurtechs are more focused on disassembling the insurance value chain, rather than becoming insurers themselves. In Hong Kong and Australia, insurers have approached mobile by developing their own applications. In China, however, the dominance of WeChat has turned that platform into the dominant one for insurance sales. And plane ticket sales. And renting an apartment. And purchasing excellent dim sum for visiting Americans.
In our Sydney roundtable, the attendees all agreed that the insurer that offers the best customer experience will win the market. The attendees all also agreed that no organization has yet figured out how to offer a truly differentiated customer experience. The array of experimental approaches in the APAC region is astounding, and will only continue to grow as the industry does.