The financial services and insurance industries are on the cusp of unprecedented change and technology is the juggernaut pushing it forward.
This all-encompassing change comes in myriad forms. It is the age of the client: consumers are more price sensitive and less loyal than ever and demand much faster, more transparent and more human experiences. Competition is far greater as technology gives rise to nimble start-ups and automation looks set to change the very essence of how organisations work and deliver value to their customers. In the face of so much evolution, there are six trends shaping the digital future of the financial and insurance sectors:
1. Machine learning, automation and artificial intelligence
These technologies have the potential to change the very fabric of modern finance and insurance work through enhanced decision making and productivity, lower costs and improved customer experience. Artificial intelligence can detect and use patterns in data to create risk profiles, complete actuarial modelling and automate previously human-based and time-intensive tasks. As McKinsey said: “…artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to live up to its promise of mimicking the perception, reasoning, learning, and problem solving of the human mind … insurance will shift from its current state of ’detect and repair’ to ’predict and prevent’, transforming every aspect of the industry in the process.“ The pace of change will become more rapid once insurers, brokers, financial intermediaries and customers become more familiar with the capabilities and transformative potential of these technologies.
2. Big data, analytics and the customer experience
The availability of data will increase as more consumer devices offer connectivity and in turn will provide greater insight into customers’ behaviours and wants. Organisations need to convert this into actionable insights in order to capitalise on data’s real value and deliver more personal, accurate and consistent customer service. For example, a wearable device connected to an actuarial database could help to better understand risk, provide more accurate premiums and even prevent claims.
3. The Cloud & agility
Some financial and insurance businesses have already started to make use of the Cloud, albeit a relatively low 7%, and this will increase as businesses pursue greater business agility and prepare for scalable growth. In particular, use of the Cloud will extend beyond software-as-a-service applications to become “…the way that core activity is processed.“ Use of the Cloud also offers the remote working and flexibility that employers need to compete for talent and support service innovation and the use of virtual desktop infrastructure will help to make the insurance industry more mobile than ever before.
4. Telematics and the Internet of Things (IoT)
The insurance industry has already started to make use of telematics as black boxes are deployed to monitor driver behaviours and assess risk. Making it possible to collate real-time situational data, telematics and IoT will become more central to modern finance and insurance provision – providing accurate pricing, reducing claims and moving away from compensation to risk prevention. For example, telematics and the IoT could be used to deactivate a car’s ignition if a driver is intoxicated or monitor customer health and make lifestyle suggestions based on data from wearable health trackers.
5. Blockchain and security
Although still in its infancy in the finance and insurance sectors, Blockchain will become integral to financial institutions’ operational infrastructure over the next 18 months as its benefits of accountability, transparency and superior security become more widely known. In fact, finance and insurance executives are expected to more than double their investments in blockchain by 2019. This public ledger, which holds data and records securely in a decentralised way, will help to counter fraud and enhance data quality and security – all key components of a digital age. A report from EY said: “the insurance industry must make investments now to be in a position to take advantage of the efficiencies and opportunities blockchain technology can deliver long term.“
6. Changes to how customers buy
With all these digital tools, newer and more immediate ways to procure insurance and improve the customer experience can be expected. These include greater use of self-service dashboards and making insurance a service, where consumers insure expensive items only when they’re in use, rather than taking out unnecessary annual policies. As Big Data paints a more detailed picture of customers, we can expect more product and service innovation.
Technology has changed consumer behaviours beyond all recognition. Financial and insurance companies must look beyond making incremental improvements and instead embrace the opportunity for widespread change in order to achieve a clear single view of each and every customer. As organisations strive to survive and stand-out, the ’digital first’ model will deliver far-reaching wins for the profession. Over the next five years, technology will become even more pivotal to the delivery of financial and insurance services in the UK.
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