June 1, 2021
Ready for the Fully Connected Future?
by Denise Garth
The key for insurers is to think beyond a single transaction and be “partnership-ready,” which also means becoming “ecosystem-ready.”
Have you ever entered a store when the automatic door wasn’t working? Or, have you ever come to an escalator that is simply stopped, and you have to walk up or down? It feels strange when common automations don’t work. If you are like me, you might even experience that disoriented, woozy feeling when your mind thinks it is stepping onto something that is supposed to move.
People are wired to gravitate toward ease of use. They naturally exhibit streamlined behaviors, like making shortcuts in the grass between two sidewalks, and they quickly adopt automations that will make life easier. Just look at how rapidly we adopted smart phones.
How must insurers, right now, prepare for an even more automated and streamlined future, with the shortcuts that people will create, whether we want them or not?
Streamlining and innovation happens with partnerships.
The restaurant industry offers an example, as it adapted to the radical changes in dining behavior that the pandemic forced. Daddy’s Chicken Shack, for example, in Old Pasadena, California, is using facial recognition kiosks to provide a completely touchless payment and service experience. Kiosks were already on the rise as a sort of automation that could reduce lines and front-line work for restaurants such as McDonald’s that struggled to find workers. Kiosks may also improve sales and customer engagement. But the facial ID features from PopID took the kiosk from “data entry point” to “data security and touchless payment,” while streamlining the process for customers at the same time that it was keeping them safe.
Automated payments and touchless technology are the next escalators of our time. But they require effective partnering. It takes more than a kiosk to automate a payment. In this case, it takes the facial recognition technology vendor (PopID), a card reading technology (Ingenico) and a payments hub vendor (Datacap), plus a dozen more payment-related companies that help to create an omni-channel payment ecosystem. This is not only streamlining through partnerships but innovating, as well.
See also: Insurance Outlook for 2021
Streamlined partnerships rely on connections
No process can become automated without connections. Innovative organizations will find the transactional hurdles and prepare their systems to accept two-way connections, then use those connections to make life easier for the customer.
Google Maps, for example, can now connect commuters with automated parking location and payment via two integrated apps, Passport and ParkMobile. Google Waze is testing touchless fuel payment at Exxon and Shell gas stations.
Connections are made more efficient through ecosystems
Insurance may not fit cleanly into every retail experience, but it is absolutely ripe for fitting into customers’ lives and businesses. The key for insurers is to think beyond a single transaction and be “partnership-ready,” which also means becoming “ecosystem-ready” — whether for mobility (well beyond auto insurance) or for a combined life, health, wealth and wellness experience. Companies that can achieve an early entry into this space have a tremendous opportunity to create and grow a loyal base of customers.
Given the nature of ecosystems, insurers can assume multiple roles, from owner of the unifying platform, to orchestrator of the products and services or provider of products and services. What insurers achieve will depend on their ability to enter the market while it is still an uncrowded “white space.” Of course, moving early requires leadership with an appetite for taking informed risk, ability to move quickly and capacity to build partnerships within and outside of insurance.
Insurers also need strong technology capabilities, including next-generation solutions that are cloud-native, digital-first and ecosystem-ready. The solutions need to break the software down into thousands of consumable application programming interfaces (APIs), offering ready-to-use insurance apps as well as a network of third-party plug-and-play services and apps.
In my blog last year on ecosystems and engagement, we identified three key ecosystems that every insurer needs to consider: the mobility ecosystem, the lifestyle ecosystem and the financial ecosystem. And more are emerging all the time.
Insurance already touches life in so many moments of the day, but how should insurers look at their future capabilities in light of fitting into these key ecosystems? Where can insurers place new products that fit seamlessly into these life streams, and how can they develop and maintain a framework that allows for quick reactions to customer trends?
Insurers will find, as they prepare, that every connection they create makes the organization a little more resilient. Channels will grow organically. Products will be launched with less delay. Customers will be served in automated ways that suit them, with relevance and accuracy. Learning, through greater data exchange, will yield improved experiences in claims-related risk.
But insurers must prepare. Humans are wired to use automation and streamline experiences. So, how can we further automate payments? How can we automatically begin providing insurance when people walk or drive or fly into situations where they need insurance? Streamlining and innovation are made possible through partnerships. Partnerships are enabled by ecosystem-ready insurance processes.