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Insurers must create the future, not just watch it unfold

Living in the Future: Insurance Leaders Capture the Winds of Experience

Step back for a moment into the year 2000. Once we had all survived Y2K and the turn of the millennium, we turned our eyes toward a new decade and the future. What would it be like? What would we do differently? How would people change? How would businesses need to adapt to the people we would become in 2020?  We already began to see a glimpse with the impact of the Internet, eBusiness initiatives and the emergence of the dot.com era.

What is remarkable is that a number of futurists before and during the Millennial turn were predicting a time in which emotion and experience would play a much greater role in the economy. Rolf Jensen, with The Copenhagen Institute for Future studies, predicted a society where emotion would trump analysis.[i] James Gilmore and Joseph Pine coined the term, the Experience Economy.[ii] And, though some of their predictions were way off — “Shopping malls will charge admission” — some of their predictions were spot on — “We expect that experience design will become as much a business art as product design and process design are today.”[iii]

What we’ve found today is the Experience Economy is alive and well. It is rooted in today’s experience lifestyles and conducive to emotionally-satisfying customer experience journeys.

Without thinking too hard, we see that both of these aspects in the experience economy are now largely in play. We see “experience” brands like Airbnb, VRBO, Disney, Turo and RVShare and brand marketing experience experts such as Apple, Amazon, Google, Netflix, Samsung, IKEA and FedEx.  And we are seeing the emergence of insurance brands like Lemonade, Ladder Life, Zhong An, Root and Trov in play, challenging the traditional insurance experience. The link between the two experiences is the perceived value they provide — the experience makes the investment worthwhile.

Last week we started a blog series highlighting significant trends found in Majesco’s latest thought-leadership report, The Future of Insurance: Future Leaders Setting the Bar in Meeting New Customer Demands and Products in a Multi-Channel World. Our findings come from four primary research studies on Consumers and SMBs (Insurance “Buyers”) and InsurTechs and insurers (Insurance “Sellers”), confirming what the futurists predicted — the experience is a crucial element of the product!

In this blog, we’re diving deeper into how emerging insurance leaders have capitalized on these trends. We are looking specifically at how insurance leaders are setting the bar higher for those insurers who follow. And we are examining how the leaders have listened to changing customer opinions and have prepared to capture the opportunities.

At a high level, using statistics we ended with last week, we found significant differences between leaders, followers and laggards, including:

  • Leaders are 42% ahead in embracing partnerships, ecosystems and InsurTech
  • Leaders are 37% ahead of laggards in creating a new business for the future
  • Leaders are 24% ahead of followers and laggards with extensive distribution strategies
  • Leaders are 20-30% ahead of followers and laggards with customer digital engagement capabilities

Leaders improve experiences by connecting channels ahead of full customer adoption.

There was a moment in time when insurers were disenchanted with the Internet. Customers hadn’t fully integrated web-based shopping into their daily lives. Some insurers backed off of web development because of poor ROI.  But then came the iPhone and the iPad --- which changed customer engagement for all businesses with Amazon, Apple and others leading the way.  The result was that once customers had re-engaged digitally, many insurers found themselves needing to catch up.

There is a parallel issue currently happening within insurance. It is related to sales channels. Consumer and SMB buyers are far outpacing InsurTech and Incumbent Insurer Sellers in their rapidly growing use of digital age channels. Smart speakers make an excellent example. Approximately 26% of our surveyed consumer buyers currently use smart speakers. Over 46% of our SMB buyers have used smart speakers, an unexpected surprise for any business, including insurance, that markets to SMBs. The greater surprise, however, is that insurers haven’t picked up on this trend. Most of them are in catch up mode. According to our survey, only 4% of insurers are offering services via smart speakers as a customer engagement channel. They are the leaders.

To meet ever increasing standards for engagement, Sellers must deliver personalized, tailored experiences that meet the expectations of today's and tomorrow's customers … because engagement and experience is now a key part of the product. If smart speakers represent the winds of change, insurers need to be capturing those winds in their sails to propel them forward. The leaders who were prepared will reap the benefits of the wind.

The challenge for Sellers is to extrapolate the opportunities that may happen at the junctures between Buyer needs, changing behaviors and trending demands. If Sellers are to be customer-focused, they must understand customer priorities and use them to deliver real innovation for products, services and channels. With no innovation strategy, a company risks failing to retain current customers, let alone capture new growth opportunities. Innovation needs to be a discipline. In a recent Majesco podcast, I interviewed Rob Galbraith, author of The End of Insurance as We Know It. He had this to say about innovation.

“There are a lot of people who want to have the appearance of innovating,” said Rob, “but innovation is hard work. It’s a discipline. A lot of the small details will determine whether the innovation is successful or whether it fails.”

In our Future Trends reports , we demonstrated how the accelerating pace of change and introduction of new technologies, business models, and economies (sharing, Gig) have intensified the demands on leaders to be responsive and disciplined with innovation. They have to stay ahead to keep customer journeys from becoming disjointed and disconnected across multiple channels and digital technologies. This is why, as we pointed out in our last blog, insurers MUST think of the whole customer experience as opposed to considering solitary channel development.

Insurance leaders are using technology to gain or reinforce a position of leadership.

Future growth, success and profitability is more likely if insurers are ahead of buyers in the use of innovative technologies, products and services. Our surveys found that leaders are almost always more prepared than insurance followers and laggards and they are often way out ahead of buyers. They heeded the futurist’s advice to get ready. Now, they are positioned for the payoff. Let’s look at three areas where the payoffs will occur.

IoT

Connected devices are creating a digital ecosystem that is an ideal environment for insurers to begin to protect themselves and their customers. Sellers are ahead of Buyers with regard to using connected devices today, with nearly 50% of incumbent insurer leaders who are planning or developing the use of IoT devices. Encouragingly, incumbent insurer leaders and followers are keeping pace with InsurTechs, positioning them well as these devices continue to become mainstream in use by Buyers.        

On Demand

Unprecedented insurance transparency has resulted in a trend that is changing the nature of the insurance contract. Digital data, advanced analytics and mobile technology are the solvent that now lets customers break apart the standard lengths of insurance policies into flexible, non-contiguous “chunks” of coverage whenever needed. Insurance Sellers have On-Demand products and services in their sights and many are preparing for the coming growth of this market. A large part of its growth will be driven by the sharing economy, whose revenue is expected to increase by 22x between 2013 and 2025.[iv]  The key for Sellers is to rapidly move from planning and developing to testing and implementing these new types of insurance.

Emerging Technologies

The rate of emerging technologies will continue, but even more exciting is the rapid adoption and commercialization of these technologies, surpassing many predictions by “the experts,” while catching many traditional executives off guard. While adoption of some of these, like IoT and autonomous vehicles, are gaining use, other technologies like bitcoin, 3D printing and drones are seeing a slower uptake in use by Buyers. Once again, Sellers are ahead of Buyers, placing them in a favorable position as the adoption of these technologies gain momentum. The key will be to monitor how Buyers are using these technologies to identify new products and services.

All insurers are watching the future unfold.

While the insurance business model has been resilient over many decades, the digital age shift is highlighting its cracks and challenges. But it is also uncovering excellent new opportunities, which many industry leaders believe could be a once in a lifetime opportunity for growth. From our long-held assumptions and traditional business models, to our processes, products and technology, every aspect of our business models must be redefined within the context of the future of insurance.

The greatest threat, challenge and risk that incumbent insurers face is focusing on internal needs rather than market needs. In today’s world, it’s all about the market and customer. And, when it comes to the customer, it is all about providing a valued experience.

In our next blog, we’ll look at where all insurers, even the incumbent insurer leaders and the InsurTechs, have room to improve. What advice can we heed from the future that will protect us from market uncertainty and give us the flexibility to innovate and react on demand? For an in-depth look at insurance customer demands and related technology trends, be sure to read, The Future of Insurance: Future Leaders Setting the Bar in Meeting New Customer Demands and Products in a Multi-Channel World.

[i] Olofson, Cathy, Dream Society, Fast Company, September 20, 1999

[ii] Pine, B. Joseph II, James H. Gilmore, Welcome to the Experience Economy, Harvard Business Review, July-August 1998 Issue

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/01/sharing-economy/

 

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