In brief

In brief

  • As products become conduits for experiences, their features and functionality are constantly in flux.
  • 65% of insurers believe customers generally don’t mind, or even welcome, software updates to their organization’s connected services.
  • While this state of “forever beta” opens a wellspring of opportunity, if mishandled it risks leaving people overwhelmed and frustrated.

Overcome the “beta burden”

In the digital era, everything is connected. The internet of things (IoT) market is expected to grow to 75.44 billion connected devices by 2025, with a projected market value of $1.1 trillion by 2026. Insurance companies are looking at ways that they can play a role in the smart device ecosystems emerging in homes, public spaces and workplaces.

Generali in Italy, for example, has spun out an independent business called Generali Jeniot to focus on opportunities in connected insurance. The company is developing a growing set of IoT-powered products for the urban mobility, smart home, smart health and connected workplace ecosystems in partnership with organizations such as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, DriveNow and Google.

To unlock the full value of this opportunity, insurance businesses need to confront the “beta burden,” and the unintended consequences that occur when smart tech – smart products, and the experiences they contain – are constantly in flux. Companies can now change the functionality of smart products or reconfigure their ecosystem over time.

But they must make sure that the customer experience remains consistent and supported throughout all these changes. Customers expect nothing less.

The upside of “forever beta” products is clear: companies that can respond to changing customer demands and expectations in real time become true partners. The value of the product then grows. But in the flurry of constant updates and changes, customers can get left behind and frustrated.

Companies must update their understanding of what product ownership means in the post-digital era and change their practices as a result. Under today’s new models of ownership, products are more than just the object in someone’s hands. That may not only affect how insurers interact with customers, but also the nature of certain insurable risks.

Products consumers think of as “theirs” can be redefined at the drop of a code release.


of consumers are tolerant of software updates that address security issues.


of consumers believe software updates often bring new problems with them.

How can insurance companies overcome the beta burden?

They must reconsider how the entire organization develops, delivers and supports its outputs. Evolutions in recent years in the enterprise engineering space point the way. More flexible processes and things like application programming interfaces (APIs) have allowed companies to evolve over time.

To overcome the beta burden, insurers will have to bring this mindset into every aspect of the enterprise, from sales, to customer support, development, design and more. Doing so will help retain customer loyalty going forward by ensuring smooth transitions from one generation of smart products to the next.

Experience-driven products are a wellspring of opportunity, but can also bring unintended consequences—this is the beta burden.

Emmanuel Viale

Managing Director – Accenture Technology Labs

Andrew Starrs

Group Technology Lead – Banking

Abizer Rangwala

Managing Director – Technology Strategy, Insurance

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