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Our Founder and CEO, Peter Goodman recently took part in an insurance industry webinar hosted by Rullion which posed the question – is technology enough for the insurance industry to remain competitive? Ask a bunch of insurtech commentators this question and of course they’re all going to say “yes”. But as the conversation progressed three themes became obvious:
All three themes reflect what Peter has been saying for some time (even before the COVID-19 pandemic). It was great to have peer validation, but more than that, what struck him most was the optimism. Whilst insurtechs have come and gone from the market, especially during recent months, the transformation of insurance has only just started. The appetite is there, the potential is there, and an industry that’s notoriously resistant to change is beginning to embrace the art of the possible.
Having many minds focused on a problem offers the best chance of success. The insurance industry must become more collaborative with the insurtech community, and that community must become more collaborative with each other. After all, collaboration and sharing drives continuous enhancement and improvement – the secret sauce of innovation.
Future success means bringing art and science together. It means embracing the insurtech community and innovators using advanced technologies, data science and APIs, rather than simply purchasing plug and play solutions. Only then will the collective learnings gathered by insurance and technology working in equilibrium help future-proof business models and skillsets, and retain a competitive advantage.
Solving real problems
In recent years we’ve seen many companies jump on the insurtech bandwagon, and many insurance providers repackage their solutions so they can claim to be technology-powered. We must move away from this kind of hype and instead deliver tangible developments – insurtech solutions designed to address clearly defined needs and problems.
This will only happen if it’s fuelled by increased investment and experimentation. The insurance industry has had its eyes opened – the worldwide lockdown forced a shift to remote working on a scale never seen before and the insurance industry overwhelmingly responded at pace. This acceleration to digital will continue fuelled by the industry’s renewed desire to understand ever-increasing amounts of data, improve productivity, generate competitive advantage and improve customer experiences.
As insurtechs, we must demonstrate what world-class can look like. We must take a consultative approach, build demos, and take insurance businesses on a journey to identify where real, tangible improvements can be made, and real value delivered. This brings us on nicely to the third theme of the webinar.
A journey, not a race
As one webinar contributor put it, the big boat is turning. In 2020 the insurance industry has had its mind opened to the opportunities of digitisation and the revelation that technology innovation can unlock vast new potential. However, no two insurance organisation are the same, and no two interpret digitisation in the same way.
Instead of big-bang transformation, the key to unlocking the digital advantage is to stay agile and prioritise investment in the right parts of the business at the right time. Build from the ground up.
For too long the big software houses have had a stranglehold on innovation. Insurtechs can change this – collaborating and democratising digital to deliver the tools, innovative tactics and agile development required to drive reimagination and reinvention – in doing so every insurance business can become an insurtech.
As one of the panel members so intuitively commented – “we’re not at the beginning of the end, we’re at the end of the beginning”. Peter did say he was going to steal this line!
So, in answer to the question – is technology enough to remain competitive? The answer is “yes”. As long as the insurance industry is willing to step up its game, rethink business models to stay agile, focus on real problem areas where insurtech can deliver value, reimagine service for customer-centricity, and collaborate with insurtechs. Those that do will be better off – far more ready to confront the challenges, opportunities and competitive landscape of the future.