IT spending by insurers expected to exceed RM133mil


  • Business
  • Saturday, 08 Mar 2003

BY K.P. LEE

INFORMATION technology (IT) investment by the insurance industry will see strong double-digit growth and exceed RM133mil this year as companies turn increasingly to technology to upgrade their customer servicing capabilities, said Intel Technology Asia regional sales manager Lai Yit Loong. 

Describing the estimates provided by International Data Corp (IDC) Malaysia of a 12.5% growth to US$35mil (RM133mil) from US$31.2mil (RM118.6mil) last year as “a little conservative,” Lai said an increasingly technology-driven Malaysian insurance industry would likely spend much more to serve their customers better.  

Lai Yit Loong, Regional Sales Manager of Intel Technology Asia Pte Ltd (2nd from left) shaking hands with Kong Kim Yihe, Chief IT Officer of Great Eastern Life Assurance (M) Bhd after MoU signing ceremony. They are flanked by Janet Yap of Intel (far left) and Ang Bar Lee of Great Eastern

“US$35mil sounds a bit small in my opinion ... it should be much bigger,” he said, adding that the expected growth in this sector was in line with “some aggressive IT spending” in general in Malaysia of between 3.5% and 4% of gross domestic product (GDP) – above the world average of about 2% of GDP.  

Malaysia last year invested about US$2.5bil (RM9.5bil) in total in IT, he said. As a consequence, the country's IT and telecommunications infrastructure was “arguably first class,” he told reporters in Kuala Lumpur yesterday after Intel Electronics (M) Sdn Bhd signed a memorandum of understanding with Great Eastern Life Assurance (M) Bhd to equip the insurer's frontline customer service agents with Intel’s latest Centrino Mobile Technology, a wireless-enabled notebook computer. 

Great Eastern Life’s chief IT officer, Kong Kim Yihe, said the company's use of cutting edge wireless technology was “a great leap forward” and would result in higher productivity and greater efficiency among its agents as well as improved customer service.  

“They (the agents) can access critical customer information and simulations remotely, reaching them virtually wherever they are,” he said. 

From a business standpoint, the company would also benefit from increased security, lower IT support costs and longer platform stability.  

According to Kong, the use of the Centrino, which will be launched worldwide by Intel next week, was part of Great Eastern Life's “Agent Empowerment Strategy” involving extensive investment in technology upgrades. He declined, however, to reveal the actual amount being invested.  

Kong said that in the next step of its technology development later this year, Great Eastern Life would be tying-up with a telco on the use of general packet radio services (GPRS) to offer another platform for agents to serve their customers.  

“We have firmly established ourselves as a lead user of cutting edge technologies in the insurance industry in pioneering mobility deployment in the workplace,” he said, adding that 10,000 of the company’s existing 17,000 agents had signed up to use its electronic facilities. 

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