Finding New Ways of Connecting

Jeffrey Sheng is head of IT at Sompo Holdings (Asia), regional headquarter of Sompo APAC group, a global insurance provider, and has worked in strategic IT planning for more than two decades. In guiding a number of companies along their digital journeys, Mr. Sheng has helped to develop standards and best practices that are pivotal for keeping workplaces connected and collaborating, even amid disruption.

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What does digitalization mean at Sompo Holdings (Asia) Pte Ltd. and where are you at on your digital transformation journey?

Jeffrey Sheng: For Sompo, digitalization means the use of digital technologies and data in order to create revenue, improve productivities for business operations, enhance customer experience and create an environment for digital business.

We are in the midst of our digital transformation journey, having already digitalized most of our operations. Our focus now is on digitally driven productivity improvement as well as moving toward becoming a data-driven organization when it comes to decision making.

How have you had to change and adapt throughout the pandemic?

Before the pandemic, we had migrated most of our IT systems to the cloud and made our office a digital workspace, so we were well-prepared to handle the disruption. After the pandemic started and everyone started to work from home, we developed comprehensive guidelines to ease the transition with some workaround solutions, for example, in relation to office phone calling. Now, with the implementation of Telstra Calling for Microsoft Teams, we’ve removed yet one more physical set-up in our office and enabled a new workstyle of hot-desking.

What do you see as the biggest gamechangers for ICT in your industry?

A fully digitalized, data-driven decision making, online business.

Research shows that more large organizations prioritized collaboration and communications-related solutions compared to their smaller counterparts (45% vs. 39%). Sompo is clearly one of these companies—why did you choose this priority?

We are managing a large region, supporting 14 markets spread across different locations. Communication is key to keeping the entire organization in alignment, collaborating and moving together in the same direction. We have invested in various communication solutions, ultimately ending up with one platform that supports not just communication but collaboration—meaning both online meetings, messaging, and file sharing between and among colleagues and external partners.

It’s important to stay connected so everyone feels engaged within teams. And when the situation allows, physical meetings or gatherings are still being organized.

How do you envision this emphasis on connection evolving even after the pandemic? What new forms of connectivity are you seeing within your organization?

A hybrid form of virtual and in-person connecting will become the new normal, even after pandemic. There will be more online communications and working from home—or from anywhere.

How, if at all, is digital acceleration contributing to creativity, accessibility and inclusivity in the new virtual workplace?

At Sompo, we see digital acceleration as helping to visualize processes and to provide better understanding of our customers and business performance. So, for example, it’s helped us to improve our customer journey, further define product and pricing strategies, enhance overall productivity and streamline processes, and even automate processes with robotics and AI technology. Digitalization has and continues to provide many new opportunities for greater customer engagement, product innovation and operational transformation.


This article first appeared on Wall Street Journal’s custom content