RESEARCH REPORT

In brief

In brief

  • In five years, nearly all the insurance executives in our survey expect the industry to be transformed by digital technologies.
  • Insurers have embraced this digital transformation, investing strategically and planning for long-term technology innovation.
  • Insurers are benefiting from cloud technology now, but executives expect artificial intelligence and blockchain to play a larger role within the next few years.
  • To realize the full value of their technology investments, insurers must overcome hurdles related to the lack of IT collaboration and burden of legacy systems.


While slow to start, the insurance industry has embraced digital transformation—in large part due to new competitors such as insurtech startups and platform companies entering the arena. Nearly all the insurance executives in our survey envision a digitally transformed industry five years from now. The challenge for incumbents will be balancing digital services while also maintaining the personal touch that is foundational to the industry.

90%

of insurance executives state they have a coherent, long-term plan for technology innovation in place.

Insurers have been able to cut costs thanks to technology, though that’s not the key driver for digital transformation. Executives expect technology to improve their competitiveness by improving employee retention—key in an industry experiencing a high turnover rate—and customer loyalty. Digital technologies have enabled insurers to improve operations efficiency and it’s clear that executives also see technology transforming the front-end of their businesses, enhancing customer relationships and boosting growth.

“The operational efficiencies you can capture by applying technology to the middle and back office are a huge, real-time measurable benefit.”

– GREG BAXTER, Chief Digital Officer – MetLife, Inc.

Which technologies will have the most impact on insurance companies now and in three years?

When asked which technologies are having the biggest impact on the company now and in three years, insurance executives selected cloud as the biggest technology impacting their companies now, with blockchain and AI becoming more significant in three years.

While cloud is having the biggest impact on insurance companies today, executives expect blockchain and artificial intelligence to move to the forefront in three years.

Artificial intelligence, blockchain and the future of insurance

While cloud is having the biggest impact on business now, insurers see artificial intelligence and blockchain playing major and evolving roles in the future. As a relationship business, insurance can surely benefit from figuring out how artificial intelligence and machine learning can enhance customer service and the customer experience.
Insurers also see themselves investing significantly in customer-facing blockchain and internal blockchain applications within the next three years, with nearly half of respondents saying they will invest in internal blockchain in the near future.

The hurdles of legacy systems and IT siloes

To realize the full value of their technology investments, insurance companies must overcome the obstacles to growth presented by incompatible legacy technology. Forty-seven percent of survey respondents also say lack of collaboration with the IT function is preventing them from realizing their technology investments’ value.
Another important hurdle to address is related to the workforce. Ninety percent of insurers expect digital innovation to cause a significant headcount reduction. These concerns also stand in the way of digital transformation across financial services, yet four in 10 insurers expect their technology investments to improve employee retention and satisfaction, reducing turnover.

Read more about the survey results and learn what specific actions insurers should take to strike a balance between investing and implementing digital technologies and maintaining a personal touch in the full report below.

Andrew Poppleton

Senior Managing Director – Accenture Financial Services Technology Advisory


Jim Struntz​

Managing Director, Lead – Accenture Financial Services, North America Technology Consulting


Carmina Lees

Managing Director – Accenture Financial Services Technology Advisory

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Read more about the survey results in the full report and infographic provided by Oxford Economics and Accenture.

Insurance: Digital transformation remaking an industry

Infographic

Survey results, by the numbers.

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