Global Trend Map No. 3: Priorities

Digital innovation tops the list internationally, as well as in North America, Asia-Pacific and Europe, with customer-centricity not far behind.

In our last post, Insurance Nexus Global Trend Map #2: Insurtech Perspectives, we looked at carrier sentiment toward disruption both globally and in a range of local markets (Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific). We found significant, though not overwhelming, impacts reported from new market entrants, while at the same time acknowledging that psychology may play a substantial role in carriers' self-assessments. In this context, it will be interesting to see what sorts of priorities insurers are setting – whether their money is where their mouth is, so to speak. As part of our extensive Trend Map survey, we drew up a short list of 15 priority areas and asked our carrier respondents to rank them from a money, time, staff and training perspective (results below, both globally and segmented on three key regions). You can find a breakdown of our 1,000-plus survey respondents, details of our methodology and bios of our contributors by downloading the full Trend Map here. We allocated ranking points separately for money, time, staff and training (15 points for first, 14 points for second… one point for last). We then combined our four measures into one composite priority score'(meaning a top score of 60, representing four top ranks, and a bottom score of four, representing four bottom ranks). See also: 2017 Priorities for Innovation, Automation   Digital innovation tops the list internationally as well as in North America, Asia-Pacific and Europe. This result (digital innovation as respondents’ key priority, with customer-centricity not far behind) complements what we saw in our earlier post on industry challenges, where technological advancement and changing customer expectations' were perceived as the key external challenges in the industry. Digital innovation and customer-centricity also represent much of the ground fought on by insurtech – and upon which incumbents must fight, too. Investment management is the lowest-ranked priority across the board, most likely a reflection of enduring low interest rates.
"The highest single priority for insurers – Digital Innovation – is a direct reflection that this is the widest capability gap between insurers’ expertise and what are now marketing 'table stakes'. Time is not on the side of those who fail to close this gap." –Stephen Applebaum, Managing Partner at Insurance Solutions Group
Looking at specific technologies attracting buzz, Analytics emerges as top-three priority across the board, while Internet of Things (IoT) struggles to break into the top ten. This is not to deny the importance of IoT for the industry over the years to come, but it does suggest that there are more immediate gains to be realised on the analytics side; ultimately, these two technology areas complement each other perfectly. We further explore Analytics (including Artificial Intelligence!) and IoT in our Key Themes section, which you can access straight away by downloading the full Trend Map here. While Blockchain did not feature in this year's shortlist of insurer priorities, we do still cover it among our Key Themes, in our sub-section on Fraud. To deepen our comparison of the different regions in the table above (North America, Asia-Pacific and Europe), we also created a ‘medals table’ drawing attention to the differing levels of emphasis placed on our 15 priorities from one region to the next. For instance, Asia-Pacific achieved the highest priority score (60) for Digital Innovation and has therefore been credited with the Digital Innovation Medal on the medals table below ...
Some key takeaways from our regional comparison...
  1. Analytics, Customer Centricity and Digital Innovation achieve similar scores across all our regions; Customer Centricity trails marginally in North America.
  2. Noteworthy is the perfect score of 60 attained for Digital Innovation in Asia-Pacific, which indicates that this was the number-one priority here in all four measures underlying the priority score (money, time, staffing and training).
  3. Underwriting and Risk Management both score considerably higher in North America than they do elsewhere – as we saw in the first table, Underwriting is 3rd in the list of priorities in North America, despite not getting above 7th place in any other regions.
  4. There is a step-up in focus on Claims in Europe and North America compared to Asia-Pacific.
  5. With Distribution, we have the exact inverse scenario, with Asia-Pacific leading the pack, possibly a reflection of the emerging markets within it necessitating high-scale low-cost distribution, which traditional models cannot provide.
  6. Fraud is also a marginally higher priority in Asia-Pacific.
  7. Europe and Asia-Pacific lead North America with their focus on Internet of Things.
  8. Cybersecurity and Mobile achieve similar (lowish) scores for all regions; Product Development is relatively high across the board.
  9. Regulation is the biggest deal in Europe, where respondents quoted in particular Solvency II and the Insurance Distribution Directive (IDD) as being causes for concern.
"Even though different markets seem to focus on a variety of distinct priorities, it’s clear many insurers place the customer at the heart of their strategies, whether through analytics, digital processes, mobile-first platforms or enhanced distribution capabilities. In each situation, technology is at the core of such digital innovation. Culture and mind-set may be the two elements that slow success." – Sabine VanderLinden, Managing Director at Startupbootcamp
Find out more about how our key priority areas vary by geography in our Regional Profiles, by downloading the full Trend Map here. Additional Insurer Priorities Survey respondents had the opportunity to provide any additional priorities they felt we had missed. Stand-out entries included:
  • Upgrading legacy systems
  • Business transformation
  • Robotics
  • Marketing strategy
  • Blockchain
See also: Why Insurers Need to Transform   Certainly the top three of these we could categorize as staples of any digital transformation initiative. In our next post, Insurance Nexus Global Trend Map #4: Services, Investments & Job Roles, we take our exploration of insurer priorities one step further. And if you'd like to skip further ahead, you can download the full Trend Map free of charge whenever you like... Download your complimentary copy of the full Trend Map here.

Alexander Cherry

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Alexander Cherry

Alexander Cherry leads the research behind Insurance Nexus’ new business ventures, encompassing summits, surveys and industry reports. He is particularly focused on new markets and topics and strives to render market information into a digestible format that bridges the gap between quantitative and qualitative.Alexander Cherry is Head of Content at Buzzmove, a UK-based Insurtech on a mission to take the hassle and inconvenience out of moving home and contents insurance. Before entering the Insurtech sector, Cherry was head of research at Insurance Nexus, supporting a portfolio of insurance events in Europe, North America and East Asia through in-depth industry analysis, trend reports and podcasts.


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