New insurance ecosystems: unleashing new data flows

Once upon a time, the partner networks of insurance companies were well-defined and well-understood. Every insurer had an established network of distribution partners, another set of partners for claims, and a range of organizations and institutions they interacted with for regulations, industry education, and technology solutions.

While the specific companies involved in each area evolved over time, the general structure of these networks remained relatively constant. In the present time, these types of partners will all continue to be important, but today there is an emerging set of new ecosystems that insurers must engage.

Digital trends

Emerging technologies and trends are resulting in new ecosystems that are highly relevant for insurers. Although many are still in their nascent stages and are quite fluid in their evolution, there are several that insurers must become a part of:

  • Smart homes/buildings:

Sensors, smart devices, and related mobile apps have the potential to play a big role in improving safety and reducing accidents related to residential or commercial property.

  • Connected cars/vehicles:

Although there is debate regarding when autonomous vehicles will reach a critical mass, there is already substantial automation in both personal and commercial vehicles. Connected tech provides new ways to communicate and has great potential to improve safety.

  • Smart agriculture:

Farm machinery and implements are already highly automated, and now farmers are leveraging the IoT and big data in agriculture.

  • Intelligent healthcare:

Smart medical devices, wearables, and other connected technologies are already transforming healthcare in medical facilities as well as for individuals recovering from illness or injury.

Digital ecosystems

These ecosystems and others, like smart cities and the connected life, will ultimately touch and reshape every line of business of the insurance industry. One of the most important determinants of success for participants in these new networks is the ability to easily exchange information, both structured and unstructured.

These new ecosystems are, by definition, digital and carry the expectation that any new members will have digital operations that enable them to plug in and contribute quickly. The challenge for insurers is to become truly digital across the enterprise. Insurers will provide value at many points as they get involved in the new ecosystems, including sales, service, safety/loss control advice, and claims. Partnering with new types of companies such as auto manufacturers, home builders, smart device manufacturers, system integrators, data/analytics services, and others will require new types of connections and communications.

All manner of data will be flowing among ecosystem partners to serve the customer – structured data, e-mail and text messages, document images, video, and data in many other formats. Insurers must be able to capture, route, and manage this information to effectively add value. This includes the requirement to manage unstructured data with speed and cost efficiency.

Tech solutions to manage digital content will remain as important as ever for insurers as the information they manage expands and they engage in new, connected-world ecosystems.

Mark Breading

Mark Breading is a partner at Strategy Meets Action. Mark is a recognized expert in advanced technologies and their implications for the insurance industry. He has exceptional knowledge of the customer experience, analytics, digital content management, and maturing and emerging technologies. You can follow him at @BreadingSMA on Twitter.

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