Most thought-provoking insights from our Insurance Roundtable Event – Part One
Recently, we held our first Insurance Roundtable Event. This is a short report on some of the key learnings we gathered from our talks you absolutely need to read, as we’re sure, after going through this short summary, you’ll definitely want to join us for our second iteration (link to application form right below the article).
Our First Virtual Roundtable Event
If you’ve ever attended a TED talk you know what it is all about: getting together some of the greatest minds to discuss ideas worth spreading for the common good.
By now, you should know that at ExB we’re huge fans of innovation, progress, and the future of work.
The bedrock of our technology is the time we’ve invested in research, years before ExB turned into a company. Born as a research institute for linguistics and artificial intelligence, our roots are intertwined with experimentation and our groundwork on Natural Language Processing (NLP) has led us to the development of several patented technologies that spawned revolutionary products such as our next-word-prediction software used in basically every smartphone in the world and to our Cognitive Workbench, the training environment which is pushing Intelligent Document Processing technology beyond the limits of structured information.
We’re all for sensible innovation that improves productivity and creates better working conditions. Our faith in the future of work and intelligent automation characterizes our research and the application of artificial intelligence and machine learning into projects that lead to a better customer experience.
Our heritage is what leads us to continuously discussing innovation with top industry experts we like to invite for talks and interviews.
A New Format
What webinars and TED talks have in common, though, is the fact that information comes from a single speaker who shares their views and know-how with an audience.
That’s a great way to spread ideas, but in an attempt to push the envelope a bit further, we decided to experiment with a different format: a roundtable event in which there are no keynote speakers or presentations.
For our first roundtable event, we decided to tackle innovation in the insurance space by inviting professionals who work in different areas within the insurance industry to share their own opinion about different topics connected to the future of insurance.
We gathered top experts who work directly with some of the most renowned insurance and reinsurance companies in different units and departments but also key innovators who work in consulting as well as specialists from insurtech, IT solutions and service providers, research, and industry associations.
During the event we had seven different topic tables. Each table was moderated by a table captain with a solid background in the specific topic.
The aim: trigger thought-provoking discussions among all participants with targeted ice breaking questions.
That’s it. No presentations, no sales-pitches, no keynote addresses. We just invited a selected group of key players in the insurance industry to share their own opinion and views on innovation, the future of insurance, partnership models, the role of artificial intelligence, data and customer intimacy, customer experience, the cooperation between well established corporations and startups and much more.
The idea was trying to create a safe environment in which we all could set aside our company name and job title and come together as experts to envision the future of insurance and spot the areas that need to be prioritized to guarantee relevance for this sector in the years to come.
As it was our first experiment with such a format, we know that there are a few things we can improve on in the next iteration. But all in all, our event was a huge success. The feedback we collected from our participants was overwhelmingly enthusiastic and the positive criticism we collected in a post-event survey gave us lots of ideas on how to make the event even more pleasant.
We all had a great time and a lot of people stayed for much longer than planned at their table to continue their discussions even after the official end of the event.
And this was a great confirmation of the fact that the best ideas derive from constructive intra-disciplinary dialogues and that people truly enjoy learning from each other.
As mentioned, we had seven different topic tables going on in parallel and this means we basically have several hours of actual discussions to report on.
So, even if it’s impossible to go through all the learnings and insights we gathered at the event, here’s a short summary of some of the most salient points that came up in our discussions.
A Brief Summary of Some of the Key Learnings
End-to-End Digitalization and Customer Experience
When it comes to creating a great customer experience, insurers are currently focussing on logic processes that prove to be conclusive and that lead to actionable insights.
There currently are several touchpoints with the customers that occur within different platforms: online portals, email, telephone, mobile apps and so on.
One of the main issues right now, seems to be the lack of an end to end model that encompasses the entire customer journey.
Insurers would like to put in place overarching processes to manage the entire customer lifetime throughout different channels.
Presently, it seems to be hard to maintain focus when offering multi-channel interaction and it’s easy to overlook steps and simply miss the opportunity to combine data.
And the most provoking question that arose from the conversation was about the digitalization of the entire customer journey: Do we really want a completely digitized experience? Is that really what we’re aiming for?
The rationale behind this question is twofold. On the one hand, there is little pressure when it comes to transformative processes. Things seem to be working pretty well right now. The current approach has been working for a very long time, and even if some adjustments were necessary to adapt processes to new channels, there seem to be few incentives for a complete disruption of the entire model.
On the other hand, our participants asked themselves if a purely digital relationship with an insurance company is what both customers and insurers really want.
Removing the human element from the equation might make things more complicated for both parties involved.
Insurers mentioned that a direct dialog with the customer is paramount within their business model, as this helps them become consulting partners and fulfil their mission.
The best customer service for insurers is connected to personalized advice for each individual client.
A plainly digital journey is perceived as inefficient since insurers wouldn’t be able to follow customers through the most important steps in their lives and guide them to select the best products that would protect their interests.
Change Management, Transformation, and Constraints
The Role of Management
Another key factor that came up in connection with transformation is connected to change management.
Some participants pointed out that very often the main problem is generational. Not all divisions are managed in the same way. In some areas, there still are key decision-makers who have a very traditional approach and who aren’t willing to promote radical change.
This leads to asymmetry in innovation which can’t propagate throughout the entire organization. A few pockets of innovation are then destined to remain siloed attempts as there’s no cross-functional cooperation. Therefore, an end-to-end overview of all the processes becomes impossible.
Change management is often linked to resistance at the levels of implementation and execution. But in many cases, the issues start at a much higher level, when executives don’t see real incentives to promote innovation.
Access to Data: An Interesting Solution
Another constraint that might limit the scope of digital transformation in insurance is -no surprise here- the role of regulatory authorities.
Electronic documents and data are linked to restrictions. To provide a 360-degree overview of the entire customer journey different units and divisions would have to share access to customer information.
The big question is: how to centralize such data?
That would lead to a bureaucratic nightmare in which customers would have to allow several different units (not directly involved in transactions) to have access to their personal information to cross-reference, for instance, demographic data with medical information, job and family history, purchases, patents, properties, past claims and so on.
How can insurers guarantee data compliance while also being able to create agile processes that lead to a complete overview of the needs of their customers?
Would clients be willing to sacrifice some of their privacy in exchange for more personalized products whose performance and functionality adapts to their lifestyle and choices?
And if this were to be true, where would such data be stored, and who would monitor and control access?
Some participants pointed out that there might be the necessity to have a third party independent and neutral organization that only deals with data and information.
This way, customers would only have to manage their personal information with a single provider. They would retain full control over their data, what they share and with whom.
They would have access to a single dashboard where they see what information is shared with what insurance provider.
Insurers would basically work with this external partner to negotiate access to data based on the consent of their clients. One single point of contact instead of having data spread throughout several units (from life to non-life) that by design can’t communicate with each other.
Customer Intimacy: Providing the Best Customer Service
A concept that came up multiple times was the dream of providing an Amazon-like service for insurers.
Not only when it comes to granting insurers 24/7 ubiquitous access to products, services, and dashboards (which, as mentioned, might be perceived as not ideal for insurance companies that prefer a more human approach by interacting with clients face to face) but also in terms of following and supporting customers along different milestones in their lives.
Amazon, for once, has full access to specific demographic data and based on their customers’ purchases they can infer at what stage in their life they are. Services like Amazon can follow customers from moving day to graduation and witness different life events like weddings, newborns, new jobs, new interests and so on. They have a pretty complete picture of who their customers are and what they’re going through.
For insurers to be able to provide best consulting services and recommend the best products for their clients at different stages in their lives it would be great to be able to create this long-term bond.
And many participants wish this would be possible through direct interaction and a continuous relationship with an internal consultant instead of creating a digital journey.
[Author’s note: ]
It’s interesting to notice that more and more insurance customers rely on online comparison portals when it comes to choosing specific products.
In a way, such portals have become the central hub for customer data and for consulting or upselling opportunities as customers regularly access such services at different stages, from a new car purchase, a new pet, or a new real estate investment.
Plus, it’s also worth noticing that Amazon offers marketing services to third party companies providing them with full access to targeting options based on demographics, intent, and events. Yet, it’s unclear if insurers are currently leveraging such opportunities.
A few participants bounced off different ideas regarding the future of insurance in general, the way insurers will position their services in the future, and the role of insurance itself.
Many ideas that came up revolved around the concept of corporate social responsibility and sustainable development.
When it comes to products, investment, and operations, insurers still see a lot of opportunities to become greener and more sustainable.
The main issue, as usual, is that some initiatives might lead to higher costs which would impact prices.
The question that came up was: Would clients be willing to pay a slightly higher price for products and services if they were guaranteed to be linked to 100% sustainable processes?
A sort of “100% Sustainable” seal on specific products similar to the “Organic” label placed on produce.
This would again require market education and direct interaction with a consultant who could guide customers through the ins and outs of such services. Besides, this would also be a great opportunity for new niche products, providers, and a new scope for business.
Some University students are already carrying out studies to see what the level of participation of both insurers and clients would be in such a new market.
End of Part One: Over to You
This wraps up the first part of our report on some of the concepts that arose during our first roundtable event.
As mentioned, we covered many topics in parallel at different tables. There still is a lot to report on.
In our next post, we’ll present a series of great ideas and questions that came up about data (access and availability), the role of artificial intelligence, changes driven by the current Corona situation, and the future of insurance in general.
And now it’s your turn.
1) Don’t miss the second part of this post then. Sign up to our newsletter (footer menu) to be informed when the next article is published
2) Would you like to be invited to our next roundtable event and share thoughts and ideas with key players in insurance, consulting, IT services, insurtech, and industry associations? We limit participation to a very limited number of selected guests.
If you want to be invited to our next event and participate in thought-provoking topic discussions, hurry up and feel free to fill out our application form right below this post.
Hope to see you there!
Stay tuned for part two.