Insurers in Asia/Pacific will be thinking more strategically about organising, synchronising and consolidating disparate customer information to create a "single version of the truth", to better manage client relationships in 2012, according to international Data Corporation (IDC).

IDC Financial Insights predicts that they will also be making investments in analytics to gain deeper insights into their policyholders and to tailor-make more appropriate products and customer experiences.

IDC Financial Insights Asia/Pacific CFA, associate research director Li-May Chew said as the very real possibility of another global downturn casts a pall over Asia/Pacific’s insurance sector, they see even greater urgency for players to forge ahead with a dynamic and lean business framework supported by the smart utilisation of technology.

"Strategic initiatives that will enable insurers to carpe diem, or make the most out of the current situation as we venture guardedly into 2012 include: focusing on data integration and analysis to boost customer experiences, innovating and delivering on a multichannel model, demonstrating proactive risk stewardship in light of escalating regulatory and compliance requirements, optimizing on business transformation initiatives, and raising productivity and allegiance of the agency force," said Chew.

"Insurers will also be deeply engrossed in countering fraudulent activities, working on enhancing core insurance applications, and diversifying into ancillary lines of businesses."

Meanwhile, the report predicts that technology spending by insurers to grow 5-10% in 2012, and in countries where regulations do not restrict its use, some of this spending would be channelled into cost-effective technology architectures such as cloud computing.

The report indicated that the customer of the future is multimodal and insurers would need to expand and innovate on their indirect distribution network.

It said that risk management remains crucial despite or perhaps because of the current uncertain economic climate.

Insurers that wish to prosper during the turbulent times in 2012 would do well by having clear management actions to: refresh their customer focus, re-invent distribution and reduce capital expenditures, drive innovation in product design, review the product mix, and capture new opportunities.

IDC recommends that insurers reconfigure their projects into smaller iterations and redirect resources to CRM-related initiatives, ensure that their IT teams speak the same language as the business divisions, and, engage with vendors regularly to ensure that their performance is closely managed and monitored.