RESEARCH REPORT

In brief

In brief

  • Leading in this new decade means working to redefine the intersection between people and technology.
  • As we move into a post-digital world, 81% of insurers acknowledge that technology has become an inextricable part of the human experience.
  • Consumers and commercial customers have increasingly high expectations, but insurers are building digital offerings with playbooks from the past.
  • To unlock the promise of a world made better and easier by tech, businesses must resolve these mismatched expectations.


Can your enterprise survive the “tech-clash”?

The COVID-19 pandemic is transforming our lives at unprecedented speed and scale, throwing nearly every insurance company’s growth and innovation agenda into disarray. The novel coronavirus has made its impact felt on insurers’ revenues and profits, on the behavior of their customers, and through heavier demands on their technology infrastructure. 

Now, the pressure is on insurance carriers to accelerate their digital transformation programs in a post-digital world—one where digital is not new to people and where it’s no longer a differentiating advantage for organizations. Technology has become deeply embedded in how we work and live—even more so after COVID-19 has made us all more dependent on digital channels to work, communicate and run our daily lives.

Having enabled their organizations for remote work to ensure business continuity during COVID-19-related national lockdowns, leading insurers are looking beyond stabilizing their businesses to strategic growth. They are asking how they can scale the emergency digital programs they implemented in these times into sustainable transformations and are exploring how emerging technologies can meet people’s evolving needs.

But this is unfolding at a time that the strong and symbiotic connection between people and technology is showing signs of strain. Rather than a tech-lash, what we’re seeing is a tech-clash. People don’t oppose technology; they remain excited and intrigued by it. But businesses are deploying that technology using the playbooks of decades past, from the days before tech had such a meaningful impact in our lives.

Insurers can’t make this same error if they are to thrive in the next wave of digital change. Making the transition to digital business models and customer experiences will not be possible without winning customers’, employees’ and intermediaries’ confidence that insurers are using digital technology in a way that benefits them.  

The promise of a world made better and easier by technology is being trapped behind models, architectures and governing structures that have not realized their full potential nor created adequate value. To survive the tech-clash, insurance businesses need to re-think these models.

Insurers can’t make this same error if they are to thrive in the next wave of digital change. Making the transition to digital business models and customer experiences will not be possible without winning customers’, employees’ and intermediaries’ confidence that insurers are using digital technology in a way that benefits them.

Technology is embedded deeply into our experiences and businesses.

19%

of consumers report that technology is so intertwined with all aspects of their day-to-day lives that they view it as an extension of themselves.

52%

of consumers say that technology plays a prominent role or is ingrained into almost all aspects of their day-to-day lives.

AI must be explainable, data use must be accountable

Insurers can’t, for instance, leave people out of the loop on how artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms make decisions that affect their lives, such as premium pricing or claims rejections or job applications.  And as they gather information ranging from driving data from telematics systems to sensor data in factories to health and fitness data from fitness tracking apps and devices, they must acknowledge people’s privacy and security concerns.  

Navigating the tech-clash is a key challenge for insurance C-Suite leaders in the COVID-19 outbreak and will continue to be one in the post-pandemic era. Up until now, insurance businesses have benefitted from following the roadmap laid out by digital pioneers. But digital technology is now evolving from an advantage to an expectation—and yesterday’s best practices are turning into today’s shortcomings. 

As a variety of technology models hit their breaking point, they herald a bigger shift that enterprises must note: people will no longer be bystanders when it comes to technology. The success of the next generation of products and services will rest on insurance companies’ ability to elevate the human experience by giving people agency in their relationships with technology. 

Digital technology is evolving from an advantage to a basic expectation, and yesterday's best practices are turning into today's shortcomings.

Insurance Tech Vision 2020 trends

The new models that insurance organizations must build to overcome tech-clash share one thing: they are based on collaboration. Successful business leaders will invite customers, employees, partners and the public to build their new course for the future together. We see five technology trends for 2020 that exemplify this:

The I in Experience: Helping people choose their own adventure

As customers demand more ownership over their digital lives, insurers must find ways to provide individuals with more agency and make them co-creators of their experiences. Those that do will find more active, engaged and loyal customers.

AI and Me: Reimagine the business through human and AI collaboration

Insurance organizations are only realizing a fraction of the potential of AI—and ultimately their employees. By finding more collaborative use cases and the capabilities needed for AI and people to work together seamlessly, they will amplify the best qualities of both.

The Dilemma of Smart Things: Overcome the “beta burden”

As products become conduits for experiences, their features and functionality are constantly in flux. While this state of “forever beta” opens a wellspring of opportunity, if mishandled it risks leaving people overwhelmed, frustrated and wary of what’s around the corner.

Robots in the Wild: Growing the enterprise’s reach – and responsibility

Businesses are starting to extend their robotics capabilities into uncontrolled environments and the open world, and robot use cases are expanding from specialized industries to every industry. Insurance will have a key role to play in facilitating the exciting possibilities of a world of ubiquitous robots.

Innovation DNA: Create an engine for continuous innovation

Businesses can transform how they innovate by focusing on three key building blocks of their company’s innovation DNA: maturing digital technologies, scientific advancements and emerging DARQ technologies (distributed ledger tech, AI, extended reality and quantum computing).

Review, reinvent and re-engineer for insurance transformation

The success of the next generation of products and services will rest on insurance companies’ ability to elevate the human experience. Companies that have a shared-success mindset—and invite collaboration with customers, employees, ecosystem partners, governments and the public—will create new opportunities for growth in a way that benefits all. This reimagination of the enterprise offers tremendous opportunities for those that take the lead.

When insurance leaders successfully build technology that delivers a human focus, they will be poised to do far more than meet expectations. They’ll set the new standard that every competitor—in every industry—will be forced to try to meet. Welcome to the new post-digital era.

Emmanuel Viale

Managing Director – Accenture Technology Labs


Andrew Starrs

Group Technology Officer – Financial Services


Abizer Rangwala

Managing Director – IT Strategy​

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