Open Web Asia, 13 & 14 July was some eye-opener for those who are not a techie or a geek… anyway there are not that many non-techies or geekies around either.
In summary, the topics discussed were divided into three main tracks:
|Forum on growing Digital in Asia – Overview of Asia Web Industry|
|Forum on the state of Venture Funds in Asia|
|Venture Capital & Funding||Social Media||Developer & Technology|
MSC Malaysia InnoTech VC Pitching – 20 Pitch
Eye-to-Eye sessions with Venture Capitalists
|Future of Digital Media||The Asia Digital Platform|
|Malaysia Digital Enterprise Exchange (MDEX) – internet based platform for SMEs||The Power of Cloud|
|Google Cloud – open for business||Cloud Computing – Good, Bad and the Ugly|
|Government, Economy & Web||Mash-up through connected Web Architecture|
|Reaching out to the millions Online||Agile and High speed development|
|What’s happening in China?||Social Web is better when it’s Open|
Opportunities on the SMALL SCREEN
|Mobile OS – Android vs iPhone|
|India’s Web Enterprise||HTML 5|
|Social Eruption||Implementing location based Apps|
|JobStreet Experience – Delivering Strategic business values & business impact of Web implementation||Power of Geo-Location Services|
|Forum on This Week in Asia – Podcast recording – LIVE on the summary of OpenWeb Asia – SEA|
Un-conference (Participants contributed) Session:
As outlined above, for most time, the seminar and discussion were schedule-split into three major tracks:
- Social Media
- Developer & Technology
THE SOCIAL MEDIA LEARNING. Of course the insurance industry wished for more information as well ideas from what’s being discussed within the SOCIAL MEDIA TRACK… The whole ecosystem of social media networks is much more important than when differentiated. So what is social media – in simple terms, it is about how businesses would want to exist within the highly interactive platform like blogs, facebooks, twitter, friendsters….. which basically are meant to be more interactive between providers of contents and audience.
“It is not just about delivering a message but also ultimately to close a sale and delivering the promises…. “
Businesses embarking in the social media platform is not exactly a simple do – it is about how you plan to exist as a business outfit and what business sense you could make out of the engagement.
Whatever it is, social media opens new avenues for insurers. Networking through social media can make more sense for insurers if the focus is on accessing new markets, especially where you do not have a strong branch and agency network. It is about getting the WORDS out to the target markets. As of now, insurers are merely dipping their toes but nevertheless happy – certainly this is not enough.
Ultimatum… it is the return on investment (ROI) that is most important, otherwise there is no justification to money spent – it would just be a “syiosk sendiri” thingy!“…after facebook, twitter and blogging, which are commonly used in Malaysia, what’s next for the insurance industry?”
WHERE TO WE GO FROM HERE? For a start it is important to note, embracing SOCIAL MEDIA NETWORKING means the insurers must have already adopted the Web-based business-to-consumer (B2C) otherwise, there is no clear reason for pursuing the social media trail.
Still, after facebook, twitter and blogging…. it is just too difficult to tell the next step, but what we can start doing is to get enough ideas and conceptualising things from the perspectives of the insurer’s long term strategic business plan.
Drawing from this OpenWeb Asia forum, perhaps the following are awesome ideas for insurance companies:
1. Today is no longer just about the information age, it is about CONNECTIVITY where information and news are constantly being pushed around – more than often they landed on our domain, perhaps too much to our liking. Because information are being PUSHed, there is always necessity to innovate a more HUMANE WAY OF PUSHING them! Then this would leads us to this thingy called APPLICATION or in short, APPs.
- Keeping the costs low and outsource creativity and innovativeness to third party make great sense
- This means MasterCard launching of its new Open API developer Portal to innovate online payment certainly make sense
- Most if not all successful online social media platforms (facebook, friendsters, twitter and wordpress) have in-build developer’s API platform to enable third-party developers to launch their applications or plugins for use of the social media users. No wonder our TED, MDeC peoples were so keen to introduce the concept of building and launching open data APPs by Malaysian for Malaysian so that public information can be easily made available, and that the government does not usually do…..
- YTL Communication did took this opportunity to identify themselves with the developers at the forum – very much strategic for their 4G broadband launch!
2. News and media – people said, these two usually get along…. today it is not uncommon for news to be freely available. Along the lines of such business model, service providers look towards Ads dollars as a major revenue of getting the business by, but unfortunately, this is not looking good as advertising over the net is not something Asian companies usually do. In view of Ads dollar SCARCITY, it would make more sense to build a stronger readership and following – or sizeable ECOSYSTEM that the company can leverage on. In this regards, we need to make CONTENTS valuable so that the reader can come back for more, and readers are more prepared for paying a subscription! Thus, with GOOD QUALITY CONTENTS, they are KINGS and therefore more able to put the equation of REVENUE = ADS DOLLARS + SUBSCRIPTION DOLLARS
3. “What is in it for me?” This is a common thing… so we constantly get messages like, MAKE MONEY ONLINE, MONETISE YOUR BLOG, FREE ONLINE GAMING, FREE APPS DOWNLOADING and much more…. a constant bait or signaling towards a world of many free stuff? Then, it would be extremely PAINFUL for many software enterprises to provide FREE!
- Software as a Service or SaaS is about the software provider deploying the software over the internet and licensing the users on basis of USE ON DEMAND with PAY-AS-YOU-USE model. This further leads us to the subject of CLOUD – computing in the clouds….. without going deeper, just take it that computing is made cheaper.
- Some deployed GEO-LOCATION platform to network friends and products promptly and effectively – this usually FREE as far as the consumers are concerned. BUT, what’s in it for the business…. asked one “Baby-Boomer” business man? Well! The representative from FourSquare told him, “Business pays to subscribe to FourSquare in return for expanding and connecting the user base of FourSquare – over time, more people would know about the business outlets and most important is their location!” But I can’t see much of a value for the insurance companies….
4. Traffic and Audience from the SUPER CYBER-HIGHWAYS…. Where and How to get them coming by? Then what? ARE WE GETTING TO THE CONVERSION?
- That’s why MDEX was born, with intention of bringing the concept of eBay and PayPal to the SMEs so that they can go global with that MDEX platform
- Our websites and whatever social media sites that we have cannot be just a site for information – they must be able to achieve eCommerce status.
5. Everything around us moves fast-forward and peoples are always on the go, which leads to this thingy called MOBILITY – Mobile phones, Net book and any gadgets that could help us make sense while on the go. This leads us to relook at the manner we push information again – so MOBILE is the in thing! So everything that is designed for the world wide web, it has to be friendlier to the MOBILE phone, whether this be some iPhone, Smart-phone or some “auntie” phones.
6. Should technology be pushed onto peoples’ lap and force them to change and adapt? Or, this can be better achieved if we could make technology more human-liked…. I guessed it is always about innovation into SOLUTION that could help human solve problems…. But this is not always true, with our society getting more affluent, technology that provides comfort do make sense too!
THE CONCEPTUAL ASPECTS. Having identified most things that were discussed during the forum, of course relevant for the insurance industry, let’s digest abit to get us somewhere, some sort of targets to get us by and fast-forwarding our plans…. and NOT further confusing ourselves or our directors!
- Endless connectivity simply means we can push our information around more efficiently and promptly. Insurers must capitalise on this fact and make enough efforts in BUILDING ITS OWN TARGET-AUDIENCE DATABASE. But what’s in it for the recipients, our target audience? Simply puts, those information must be simple and in digestible form, making it easier to the reader’s eyes. Needless to say, they must be of use to the audience – maybe not at that instant but information-at-hand when needed.
- The use of Apps and the services of third-party developers – Insurers need those creative Apps to assist with the FRIENDLY information PUSH. We can either get them from Google Apps or build them ourselves. Just imagine one fine day, we find some of our marketing colleagues are actually Apps developers! The most important thing is Apps must contain features that help with storage of information and releases to the user when required – just like in the case where an accident occurred, the Insured may press his or her phone and the much needed information as to what’s appropriate next steps are release out on their mobile….. and… that would be awesome if the Insured could also retrieve their insurance policy details over the phone by a simple click over the Apps icon (of course that would be password oriented…). I would have thought the SocialWalk Apps which was used in the OpenWeb Asia event was awesome – from the registration process, sending notification and creation business matching among participants.
- The focus is on an ECOSYSTEM building and brand loyalty of the members – In the Social Eruption talk, the emphasis was that conversations are now powered by: BLOGS, MICRO-BLOGS, ONLINE CHAT, RATINGS, REVIEWS, WIDGETS, BOOKMARKS…… It was from WORDS OF MOUTH to WORLD OF MOUTH! (A quote from Derek Tan of Volcanic). And this is true… news and information are now finding us and not the other way.
- The AGENCY DISTRIBUTION CHANNEL – We can consider this as a barrier or stumbling block to Web business-to-consumer (B2C) entry, or we have to recognise their very existence and work out some viable strategies to move both sides of the divide forward as a whole….
One Korean participant at the Open Web Asia shared with me on Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance, Korea’s B2C experience. In 2008, while considering whether to launch their online auto portal they did face with objections coming from those from the distribution channel fraternity. Nevertheless their senior management made the decision to push ahead, and the rest was history…. It was unavoidable as the South Korean auto insurance market is non-tariff with public calling for lower insurance premium, and Samsung certainly cannot be a non-starter when Axa and Ergo-Daum had already surged ahead, playing a pivotal role with internet sales. So what’s the best step forward?
Perhaps, it is now time for insurers to relook at the agency distribution channel, should we start building reinventing this channel – what about internet-insurance agents to enhance insurer’s web-sales penetration?
So what is the better way to push information… perhaps if we can develop BRAND ADVOCACY among our existing audiences or customers, which means our customers are made to be advocates of the insurer’s brand! Brand advocacy would be the next most important key driver of growth (Bain & Co.) and is recognised as a CRITICAL SUCCESS FACTOR in a very intensely fought market. Having said this would lead us to the NEXT subject called ECOSYSTEM…. refer below.
The another important aspect would be building on the current paradigm shift, a result of the GEN – Y rebellious trail – MOBILE being the keyword, which then leads us to TOUCH COMPUTING, INDIVIDUALITY, WITH U ALL THE TIME AND SPACE (or LOCATION)…. Li Chi Wu, Chief Evangelist of FOOUND advocates the concept of businesses need to build on top of whatever sense they can make out of available APPs. Therefore, I will further add, it is perhaps time for insurers to bring into its operations technology that can help ride on available APPs or perhaps build new APPs that can help spearhead the business more efficiently over the Web.
The subject of BRAND ADVOCACY that is so important in building an effective ecosystem would take us another step further into advocacy measurement, management and AMPLIFICATION. We need influencers in the process, influencers that are connected and capable of putting messages into the ecosystem environment that can turn contagious. I was quite impressed with BRIAN WONG, a 19 year old kid… who gave a talk on “7 THINGS ON MARKETING WITH YOUTH” and something about grasshopper.com? I must as well have these written here:
Help us accomplish something great!
Be cooler than our parents
Show us possibilities, not just pretty pictures
Organic interactivity, not contrived
Keep it fresh and simple
Statistics are boogers
“Youth” is a misnomer
In summary, it is alright if you do not understand… because the NEXT push is very much into adopting technology as a daily part of our operations – just need to know what Apps is all about and how they can be innovate to make real sense of our business development and the enhancement of the delivery of value chain. The workforce is getting younger and more savvy with technologies, so the next path and therefore the new ROAD-MAP would be Apps, Ecosystem, Connectivity…… over the WORLD WIDE WEB!