Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee has inspired a lot of retrospectives showing the changes to society over the last sixty years. And nowhere has the extent of change been more evident than in the field of technology. Within the life and pension industry the use of technology in the early 1950s was negligible. The life and pension sector was a hugely manual industry in which innovation was very low, distribution was by direct sales forces and products were designed on a one-size-fits-all basis.
Fast-forward to today and the nature of society has changed dramatically. Technology usage is ubiquitous amongst all sectors of society and the general population have far higher expectations of the service levels that they should receive from all businesses.
The life and pensions sector, whilst automating back office work significantly, have been slow to leverage the huge leaps in technology in order to sell and service their products directly to their customers.
This has to change. If not, new entrants will redefine the market. Customers are no longer prepared to wait for information and advice and are intolerant of internal company processes that delay them. People have an ‘anytime, anywhere’ approach to life and to meet their needs producers need to be able to supply their products and services uniformly across the technology platforms the customer chooses to use, from smart-phones and tablets to PCs and direct contact.
Use of cloud-based technologies is an important part of the solution as it moves the technology problems to the experts and allows the company to focus on what it does best – the creation of life and pension products. Embracing the cloud also ensures a lower cost of innovation, with the ability to try small roll-outs without the full technical implementation that would be required for an in-house equivalent.
It is easy to say that “our industry is different” but a glance across the business world in general shows the wreckage of many firms that thought that way, until a more nimble competitor sped past them and re-defined the market, leaving them out in the cold. Never think it can’t happen to you.
Looking back to the beginning of the Queen’s reign, no one would have been able to forecast the extent of the changes that have taken place. Since the 1950s technology has come to dominate our lives in a way few would have ever thought possible. Many things that were common then are now distant memories – phones with dials, black and white television etc. The monarchy itself has adapted, using technology in order to develop a new role more relevant to the current age.
For the life and pensions sector, the same stark choice is there – adapt to technology and leverage it to play a part in modern life or be overtaken by newer entrants to the market who will be better suited to today’s consumer. The choice is yours.
Will the life and pensions sector start to embrace new technologies? Let us know what you think in the comments below!
— Ciara Ryan (@Ciara1Ryan) May 31, 2012