Operational innovation and InsurTech, hand in hand

There is some cool tech out there at the moment!

Take a glance at the insurance market and you will see an industry really trying to change the way they do business with technology.

Insurance companies by their very nature rely on technology to operate. They sell nothing more than a contract, peace of mind. Therefore, the more technical innovation they can bring to their market, the better service they offer their customers; ultimately, the more competitive they will be. It’s what gave rise to the term InsurTech.

It was only back in the 1990s that we would purchase insurance over the phone or at our local broker office. When we needed to submit a claim, this would be a lengthy process taking weeks after we incurred a loss.

Today, we can purchase insurance online without ever having to speak to an agent or manually fill in and post away an application form. We even have online insurance aggregators like confused.com or comparethemarket.com that can use our data to go and find the most applicable policy for us in seconds.

It is not only at the consumer front-end that insurers are looking to introduce technical innovation. For example, in the last few years, we have seen the use of drones that can quickly capture imagery from angles that used to be too risky to or too costly to collect.

Using InsurTech to be proactive

In 2016, AVIVA sent drones to assess the damage of the flooding caused by storms Desmond, Eva and Frank in the north of the UK. Consequently, AVIVA could proactively calculate which of its customers were affected by these storms.

Rather than waiting for their customers to claim, they reached out to those affected to offer help. This is a great example of where a technology has been deployed that reduces the operational cost for the insurer, but also provides the consumer a great service.

Most homes now have smart meters to control heating or lighting. It won’t be that long until your insurer would like to track your smart meter so they can proactively help if faults occur. After all, it’s cheaper and less disruptive to fix a small problem than wait until the boiler fails or you have a leak!

Looking to the future, we have seen a number of topics that are of great interest to the insurance sector. Companies have been collecting data for years without necessarily realising how to utilise this ‘big data’.

However, since the conception of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence technology, insurers can use this data to calculate risk with incredible accuracy. Calculations that may have taken months to collate and calculate by humans can now be processed almost instantly.

The future for the insurance sector, therefore, is bright. We will no doubt see technical innovation that will help see insurers leap into the future of deployable business technology. As consumers, this will only help us to offset risk from our lives as insurers proactively help us to avoid loss.

What an incredible time to be alive!

Legacy, the opposite of innovative

So when an attendee asked a panel of insurance CIOs at an event recently, “Of all the innovative software that you have incorporated into your business in the last two years, what has made the biggest impact to your business?” you might be surprised to hear the answer…

Of all the cool InsurTech, the technology that had the biggest positive impact on their business were those technologies that sought to provide operational innovation, as opposed to customer-facing innovation or provide solutions to big-ticket technology trends.

In some cases, this technology is not at the bleeding edge of innovation, or technology that is typically put under the umbrella of InsurTech, but comes in the realm of technology that has been around for many years, where the insurance sector has been slow to adopt or slow to realise the benefits.

You see, although insurers are in many ways at the forefront of innovative IT or cool ‘InsurTech’, there exists an underlying legacy culture that limits the capacity for operational change. However, when you embrace change, there are many improvements you can make, efficiencies you can gain and cost savings you can realise.

A particularly good example was given where one CIO had focused on replacing a wet signature process with electronic signatures.

Rather than being blinkered by all the cool tech that is out there, or looking for answers in their lofty and largely theoretical long-term IT strategy, the organisation’s leaders decided to look at where cost and process inefficiencies existed in their business. Then, by applying targeted content service applications to close gaps in their business process, they were able to make dramatic operational gains.

And all with the simple vision of: “We need to move to digitally signing documents”.

Deploying a solution that provided the ability to compose content, route that content for approval, and ultimately obtain a signature digitally, this enabled the organisation to become more efficient and removed a huge amount of cost from its business overnight.

And what was the knock-on effect? Free from the burden of a largely manual daily operation, they now have the time to spend looking into some truly cool technology!

So, the next time you review your technology or operational strategy, have a think… Is your current legacy culture stifling your ability to innovate?

John Rockliffe

Working out of Hyland’s London office as part of Hyland’s Enterprise Solution Architecture team, John brings more than 10 years of corporate experience ranging from enterprise content management (ECM) to project management for clients ranging from HSBC to Gucci. John has seen many changes in system and solution approaches, and brings a business-first approach at looking at enterprise solutions.

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