Today’s post was written by Andrew Anker, head of Infrastructure Services and Technology Risk, AIA Group.
When I joined AIA two years ago, we were already dealing with a growing trend in the insurance industry: the digitalization of the customer journey. Increased expectations for online services and more immediate, targeted customer response are not new in this Internet age. AIA is accelerating the speed of employee communication and collaboration to support our continued focus on personal attention to individuals, which has been our way of doing business for the past 90 years. To help achieve this objective, we introduced Microsoft Office 365 business productivity services to more than 20,000 users across the Asia Pacific region where AIA operates.
We’re using Office 365 to provide seamless collaboration tools to the teams supporting our 18 different Asian markets. Our business is an extensive network of agents, partners and employees across Asia-Pacific, serving the holders of more than 29 million individual policies and more than 16 million participating members of group insurance plans. Whether it is co-editing documents on the fly with team members in different countries or reviewing PowerPoint decks on a tablet in a taxi before a meeting, using Office 365 helps these dispersed teams to provide responsive service to our customers. Connecting across Asia through Skype for Business meetings, Yammer groups, instant messaging or just the ability to communicate with an enhanced email structure is changing the way we work and think as a company.
Office 365 reduces the language barrier to virtual teamwork faced by our Pan-Asian workforce and is transforming how we exchange ideas. Today, a manager speaking Mandarin in Beijing uses Yammer to connect with his colleagues speaking Malay in Malaysia or Vietnamese in Vietnam. With the freedom to express themselves in their own languages, employees generate meaningful dialogue and innovate on a more spontaneous level. We have brilliant people working in this organization and today they are using Office 365 to more easily contribute their ideas and add value to the products and services we offer. In fact, we used Yammer to enhance internal ideas exchanged around a new science-backed wellness program—AIA Vitality—before its public launch. We introduced the product internally and employees created Yammer groups to exchange feedback and collect ideas about how to enhance its features and capabilities—speeding time to market.
An unexpected benefit of Office 365 is improved mobility and business continuity. The combination of Outlook on the web (the webmail component of Exchange Online), OneDrive for Business online file storage and the compatibility Office 365 has with mobile devices running different operating systems gives us a portable business office that we can use to serve our customers anytime, anywhere.
We were able to retire five different business productivity tools and vendors, reducing costs and simplifying IT. That’s because Office 365 meets the levels of security, data privacy and control that we need in the financial industry. Microsoft Consulting Services helped us move to the cloud while maintaining compliance in each of our markets and accommodating our desire to know where our data resides. Keeping our data safe is at the heart of what we offer our customers—protection from unforeseen life circumstances.
Our journey with Office 365 gave us the confidence and trust to work with Microsoft on a significant new project where we are using the Microsoft Azure cloud computing environment to help improve responsiveness during peak workloads. Both these projects are giving us the ability to meet the changing expectations of our customers for digital services that will keep us competitive in the twenty-first century.