The best partnerships are built on trust, respect, and shared visions — even in business; no, especially in business. When two organizations decide to collaborate, they share their assets (expertise, financial resources, manpower, client base, and capabilities) in moving towards a common goal, traversing a unified path.
At a time when technology is the name of the game, digital platforms are also now being used to build business partnerships and foster growth. In July last year, leading insurance provider AIA Vietnam and e-commerce giant Tiki announced a historic alliance to help Vietnamese families “live healthier, longer and better lives.”
The partnership between these two of the most trusted companies in Vietnam was considerably unique, given their seemingly different business models: AIA has been a market leader in the insurance industry for more than 100 years now, while Tiki was one of the first to introduce all-digital shopping in the country.
But as leaders in their respective fields, AIA and Tiki have both leveraged their assets to offer Vietnamese consumers easy access to a more positive, healthier lifestyle right at their fingertips.
In a webinar held on March 18, Vietcetera opened a platform for AIA Vietnam, Tiki, and McKinsey & Company to discuss Shaping The Future In The Digital Age: Digital Platform Partnership, taking the insurance and e-commerce site’s game-changing partnership as precedent.
It’s about timing
AIA Vietnam was established in 2000, with the goal of protecting the financial prosperity and safety of the Vietnamese people. But while health and life insurance services have long been considered a necessary investment, it took the company 20 years to reach 1.5 million customers.
“Insurance is not something you think about when you wake up in the morning,” said Ha Vu Mong, chief of partnership development at AIA Vietnam. “Vietnam has unique demographics because 70% of its population is of the working age. But it has also one of the fastest-aging population. And we’ve seen very alarming trends, a lot of young people are now sick because of their lifestyle.”
AIA Vietnam knew it had to penetrate the young market through a platform they can relate to. Through the Tiki app, which has monthly traffic of 17 million, the insurance organization was introduced to a wider market base.
Richard Pham, the president and CFO of Tiki, said, “We truly believe that insurance is a great product, but it’s the least understood product in Vietnam. It made us wonder why people don’t appreciate it.”
Tiki, which started as an online bookstore in 2010 evolved into what is now one of the biggest online marketplaces in the country. The app offers anything and everything — from books to electronics, and now insurance policies from AIA Vietnam.
“A 100-year-old company shifting digital and a company that’s built on innovation to deliver quality products — that’s a match made in heaven,” added Richard.
And the timing was right, said Richard. When Tiki was looking into the data during the months-long lockdown in Vietnam last year, the team saw significant changes in what and how people search on the app. The pandemic also heightened people’s interest in health and safety, making them aware of the importance of having a “safety net”.
“Internally, at Tiki, we also believe that our technology is ready to invest heavily in it. We want seamless content within the app, where people can educate themselves, manage policy claims, renew their insurance policies, and all that,” explained Richard.
For Raphael Bick, partner at McKinsey & Company Shanghai, the partnership between AIA and Tiki “just makes sense” because Vietnam is a very underinsured, unprotected growing market. And for a “traditional business to build a strong connection to its target market, it requires engagement with customers,” which Tiki has already a strong foundation in, said Raphael.
He, however, admitted that business partnerships are still relatively young and new in Asia. There have only been a few long-term partnerships in the last couple of years. “With Tiki and AIA at the forefront of innovation, a close collaboration working model will be required.”
Here are some crucial aspects of building partnerships, according to Raphael:
- Strategic alignment in timeline — Two parties should have a unified timeline and ways on when and how to translate actions into goals, and how to allocate resources to make those goals happen.
- Integrated team — Teams of each party should be able to communicate effectively whether they’re working in one space or not. It’s important that all people involved in the project know and understand each other’s roles, responsibilities, and capabilities
- Combined skillsets — Each party has its own expertise, assets, and resources. These should be used together to create a fool-proof product
- Strategic understanding — Before any collaboration starts, all parties must have a full understanding of what each team brings to the table, and should be able to build a strategy that both accept and can fulfill
- Commitment to make things work together — Every party involved should have a full commitment to make the partnership work. The success of any partnership highly depends on mutual dedication and bond.