Financial Services Tech Project of the Year

Singapore-headquartered life insurance company Great Eastern Life set out to develop its Electronic Mobile Advisory Solutions (E-MAS) system in 2004.Taking more than two years to complete, E-MAS is an integrated system that enables straight-through electronic submission and processing of insurance proposals using electronic signature technology.

Company
Founded in Singapore in 1908, Great Eastern Holdings' activities include life assurance, composite assurance, general insurance, asset management, and property development and investment.

Project
Electronic Mobile Advisory Solutions (E-MAS)

Objectives
The E-MAS was implemented to increase the competitiveness of Great Eastern's sales force and improve cost structures through increased operational efficiency, among other objectives.

Budget
US$2.1 million

Timeline
27 months

Tech partners
Adobe Systems, BMC Software, e-Com Asia Pacific, Firium Solutions, Fujitsu Asia, Oracle, Sun Microsystems

Key learnings
Firstly, the success of the E-MAS hinged on the collaboration efforts of different working groups within the company, involving close coordination. Secondly, knowledge transfer from the external consultants to the IT project team members of Great Eastern proved to be crucial, as it ensured that the company is self-sustaining in the maintenance of the system in the mid- to long-term.

Deserves the award because...
Not only did Great Eastern plan the project well, the company spared no effort in engaging the salesforce--even the less IT-savvy ones--before the system was rolled out. The company provided training for life planners to instill confidence and to increase their competency in handling the system.

It incorporates Financial Life Plan (FLP), Benefit Illustrations and Product Summary (BIPS), proposal generation and e-submission. Thanks to integration with an expert underwriting system, an underwriting status can be provided within minutes.

With E-MAS, a Great Eastern life planner can now complete the sales process in just one day, unlike previously which took an average of three working days.

In addition, with the implementation of E-MAS, Great Eastern became the first insurer in the region to launch tablet PCs on a large scale to its agency distribution channel. The E-MAS now forms the backbone of the company's paperless initiative.

The system greatly impressed one of the Smart50 judges. Victor Lim, vice president of business development at IDC Asia-Pacific's verticals division, rated Great Eastern Life's project the "highest" among the nominees.

Lim said it was "because of their use of technology, which has impacted not only their business but also improved the business for their customers".

He added that Great Eastern "sets the example for their competitors to follow".

From project conceptualization to delivery, the E-MAS project was a big collaborative effort between different working groups. Representatives from all major business units and agency representatives from Great Eastern's agency club committees were totally involved in the system's development.

Ng Koh Wee, Great Eastern's executive vice president and head of information technology, paid tribute to all who were involved in the project, including actuarial, agency distribution, life bancassurance, marketing and new business underwriting.

"Our E-MAS project was an important project that required our IT staff to work closely with staff from various departments," Ng said. "We attribute the success of the E-MAS project to the great team work and dedication."

And to underscore the company's commitment to a paperless office, Great Eastern launched an "Absolute E-MAS" campaign in July last year.

The result: Since the project's launch in 2005, more than 90 percent of the proposals that Great Eastern receives from its agents are submitted electronically. More importantly, the company estimated that E-MAS will help Great Eastern's life planners, as a group, to save a total of almost US$24.6 million by the end of 2008.

Great Eastern expects greater return on the technology investment, as the system can also be used by its operations in Malaysia, China, and other regional markets.

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