Tag Archives: business model

Why Insurance Is Ripe for Disruption

Today, most people are driving in semi-autonomous cars, or semi-self-driving vehicles, whether you realize it or not. So you may have nice specs, alloy rims and some cool new tricks: contactless keys, dynamic cruise control, parking assist, self-correcting lanes, a bunch of other mini-innovations that improve the driving experience for you personally and anyone driving with you or around you. These “minivations “ are just the start.

We know that roughly 93% of all vehicle accidents are caused by human error. Almost $1 trillion a year is spent on auto repair. Sit back and question that for a second, and that’s when you realize that all of this money – nearly $1 trillion! – is being dropped right into the pockets of the auto repair companies and the physical parts manufacturers.

Traditional original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are showing a glaring absence of innovation when it comes to preventing deaths. There are roughly 30,000 deaths per year due to auto accidents in the U.S. alone. To repair the auto industry and its surrounding ecosystem, the loss of lives must be addressed.

How? Through autonomy.

If you can take the 93% of human error caused by accidents down to 20%, 10%, 5% and ultimately under 3% with a (level 2, 3, 4 and 5 autonomy) vehicle, what will happen? First, you save lives (and the costs of healthcare). Second, you collapse an entire business model. You effectively shine light on the inefficiencies and economic costs absorbed by individuals.

See also: Which to Choose: Innovation, Disruption?  

This is where our favorite subject enters: insurance. Traditional insurance. The intangibles and untouchables: The Benjamin Buttons of Innovation!

Enter simple math. Look at the premiums you as an individual pay relative to the cash outlay that the insurance companies must make due to accidents. Do you see it now? To say that the business models of the incumbents in auto insurance will shift dramatically is an understatement.

This concept – a company without a tangible product that makes money off the liabilities they have on their balance sheet by means of your deposits – is going to pay for stagnation by means of obsolescence.

Now a reversal occurs – individual empowerment amid institutional disempowerment. The next generation of insurance companies (insurance-as-a-service, insurtech, ethical autonomy, you name it) will naturally, inevitably and ultimately rise to the top of the pack and take share away.

It is only sensible, therefore, to presume that the future of auto insurance is fascinating in a world where the metadata becomes statistically significant as it intersects with the data of connected vehicles. Why? Because now I can just pay as I drive. A true service (finally!). A pay-as-you-go business model that is as exact as it is precise. So, I – as an individual, an owner, leaser or driver turned rider – am no longer an “average” anymore. This is the concept of hyper-personalization, hyper-humanization and hyper-empowerment. There is an excellent example of hyper-personalization where I know precisely how many miles I actually drive, and the only premium I pay for insurance is for those miles. Furthermore, what if I as the user can actually obtain insights into my driving behavior (i.e. hard brakes, speeding, etc…),further influencing coverage premium and empowering me to drive behavioral change (no pun intended) with analytical insights and recommendations.

In fact, the business model has already been created in form and substance. It exists today – there are insurance companies offering that solution as we speak, and I suspect it will increasingly become the standard. It will be interesting to see which insurance companies become print newspapers, which ones become blogs and which ones have left ancient history to trade perhaps one fiscal year for the opportunity to pioneer the next frontier.

But before we embark across the Rubicon, let’s take a brief step back. By 2020, we will live in a world with 50 billion connected products. The enormity is surpassed only perhaps by the complexity.

So if you are at a company right now that is just starting to feel pretty good about your position along the intelligence of things continuum, really good about your digital marketing team’s evolution, your grasp on social media/SEM/SEO, your grasp on building a multi-channel experience, your grasp of what your customer wants, enjoy the feeling –you’re about to be disrupted. Amazon ring any bells?

See also: How to Respond to Industry Disruption  

And you’re going to get disrupted in a way that’s staggering in its infinite nature, with infinitely more data points, infinitely greater opportunities and, as a result, infinitely more options amid a sea of competition, which makes you feel infinitesimally small. Suddenly. This competitive force has built such a commanding, unexpected lead. Yes, a good, old KO before you even heard the bell go off. You will likely default, and it will be too late to pivot.

For the lucky, the ability to slip into obsolescence and appreciate the nostalgia of the past will do. (Of course, not the positive vibe-nostalgia, the punch-drunk love of sentimental warmth. Nope, as you become a relic of history, the nostalgia will be more like the Greek word root for nostalgia, which translates to pain, or more specifically the debilitating and often fatal medical condition expressing extreme homesickness).

Why will you get disrupted? Because we’re going to fast forward parabolically toward predictability and optimization. And that is precisely when machine learning takes place — that is when the machines become smart. As machines become more intelligent, they start to recognize patterns. Then they start to actually give you advice, input. Next, they start to predict what the outcomes could be, output. I/O. That, well, leads to artificial intelligence.

To be continued….

4 Tech Impacts on Business Models

Just a decade ago, “insurance” and “innovation” seemed mutually exclusive. Insurance products and the business overall hadn’t changed much over the previous century and the likelihood of insurers – which, by their very nature, are risk-averse – changing anytime soon seemed unlikely to many both inside and outside the industry.

However, over the past decade, there have been dramatic changes in the world that insurers cover and in the data and technology available to them. The result is that insurance companies have opportunities to explore new revenue models and improve profitability in ways that did not exist even just a few years ago.

See also: Secret to Finding Top Technology Talent  

The most prominent changes and their effects on revenue models include:

1. Consumers, social media, and data – The ability to connect, communicate with and observe insureds and potential insureds in real time or near real time has opened up new possibilities for insurers to understand their customers’ needs, pain points and desires. Many carriers have started to rethink their customer experience so they can “listen” directly to their customers instead of being solely reliant on their distribution channels.

  • Revenue model implications –Insurers are using technology and data tools to explore opportunities to provide complementary products and services to insureds. These tools enhance carriers’ understanding of customer needs and enable them to address these needs seamlessly via direct and indirect channels.
  • Profitability implications – Insurers are rethinking their business processes and customer journeys to identify “leakage areas” and “moments of truth” when profits are hurt by 1) frustrated customers choosing to leave or 2) missed opportunities to expose customers to products and services that meet their needs.

2. Insurtech – While the fintech boom has subsided somewhat elsewhere in financial services, insurtech is still growing. Traditionally, one of the biggest hindrances to many insurers in getting new products or new product enhancements to market was their own technology and data environment, and the belief that they alone had to build any new technology from scratch. However, the rapid rate of technological change and insurtech capabilities has led many carriers to look externally to enhance their capabilities and test new products and delivery models for their products. This underlies the promise that insurtech offers for established players – in fact, we think the opportunities that insurtech presents outweigh the threats many incumbents perceive.

  • Revenue model implications – Insurers are increasing their investments in, partnerships with and acquisitions of insurtech companies to more quickly bring new products and services to market, especially ones that better match pricing to a more accurate understanding of the risk or actual use of the insurance (including on-demand and usage-based insurance models).
  • Profitability implications – As a result of technological disruption, insurers are rethinking their value-chains and leveraging insurtech and other technology systems to improve operational areas that have historically been inefficient in terms of cost, time and use of human capital.

3. Internet of Things (IoT) – Although IoT technically is part of nsurtech, the impact of device networking is creating unique risk management – even risk avoidance – opportunities for insurers. From commercial and personal line P&C to life/health and group, IoT opens up opportunities for carriers to move from simply computing the probability of risks and then reacting to them as they occur to being able to monitor potential risks and prevent their occurrence.

  • Revenue model implications – Insurers are exploring how IoT can open up product and service opportunities. In the P&C space, insurers have the option of partnering with IoT companies to provide IoT solutions as part of their product offering in both B-to-B and B-to C. In life/health and group, we expect insurers to continue to test how devices can reinforce healthy lifestyles and open up opportunities for insurers to make life and health truly about “life and health” and not just death and sickness.
  • Profitability implications – Insurers are leveraging IoT to reduce claims frequency and severity. We expect new insurance models will test and explore ways to share these benefits with the customers – for example, by using behavioral economics techniques to provide incentives and reinforce positive decision-making and lifestyle choices.

4. Bionic Advice – There is currently a lot of talk about robots and machines replacing humans. However, at least for now, the real opportunities are not in finding the “perfect algorithms” that completely automate advice. Rather, they’re in machines enhancing the effectiveness of advisers and other distribution channels. And, the insurance industry appears to be prepared; in our recent annual CEO Survey, 61% of insurance CEOs said their companies are exploring the benefits of humans and machines working together.

See also: How Technology Breaks Down Silos

Numerous studies have confirmed that customers prefer the flexibility of interacting with insurance companies via the channels of their choosing – and this still often includes human ones. The real benefit of robo-advisers and AI is that they can automate basic advice but provide immediate, detailed information specific to a given customer that an adviser then can use to inform her product and planning suggestions. In addition, robotics and AI increasingly provide insurers the opportunity to capture information and refine their understanding of and recommendations for their customers throughout the sales and customer lifecycle processes.

  • Revenue model implications –Insurers are exploring bionic advice models to increase revenue by better matching products and customer needs and by creating new product bundles based on an enhanced understanding of customer segments.
  • Profitability implications – Insurers have lost out on many sales opportunities over the years – not because they had disinterested customers but because they or the channel partner never really understood customer needs. Many carriers realize this and are exploring how to deploy bionic advice models to automate customer follow-up, either in real time (e.g., while talking to an adviser) or at specific intervals (e.g., annual review, life event, etc.). The goal is to help carriers be more relevant to customers and, by offering appropriate products and service bundles, increase the products per household and boost “stickiness.”

Implications

In the case of the scenarios we describe here and others that could emerge, we see some consistent patterns:

  • New revenue models will result from the opportunity to leverage data, technology, social medial platforms and mobile devices that lead to the creation of new products, services and pricing strategies.
  • Insurtech is not just about new products and services. Insurance companies will continue to take advantage of emerging technologies and data to enhance their internal operating models. This, in turn, will enable them to market new products and services faster and to sell and service them more efficiently.
  • Insurance companies will continue to explore how to leverage peer-to-peer models and behavioral economics to drive new pricing strategies, growth and profitability.

6 Key Ways to Drive Innovation

Insurers and intermediaries know that innovation has the potential to disrupt their current business and operating models. And they know that they need to innovate faster than their competitors to defend and grow their business. Yet few have found a winning formula for embedding innovation into their people, products or processes.

Feeling the disruption

The fact that new technologies, innovations and business models are changing the dynamics of the insurance market is clear. More than eight in 10 insurance executives responding to our recent survey, Innovation in Insurance, said that they believe their organization’s future success to be tied closely to their ability to innovate ahead of their competitors.

But with new entrants, new technologies and new business models emerging at an increasingly rapid pace, many insurers are also concerned that innovation will bring more disruption than value. Many are already feeling the heat. In fact, almost half of our survey respondents said that their business models were already being disrupted by new, more nimble competitors.

For some, the risk of disruption and the opportunity for competitive advantage is driving a renewed focus on innovation. In a recent interview with John Geyer, senior vice president of MetLife’s innovation program, for the report, A New World of Opportunity: The innovation imperative, he said: “If somebody’s going to disrupt our industry, it might as well be us.”

Indeed, new technologies are reducing losses and costs while saving lives and increasing customer satisfaction, reducing risks and driving new business models and consolidation within the industry. New advances such as driverless cars, machine learning, home sensors and “robo-agents” empowered with artificial intelligence and mobile payments offer a world of opportunity for insurers.

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The capacity and capability to innovate

While many insurers recognize the vast possibilities that innovation brings, many seem reluctant to be first out of the gate. This is not entirely surprising; most organizations responding to our survey reported that they lack the hallmarks of an innovative organization, such as dedicated budgets, formal strategies, executive-level support and measurement processes.

Even those that want to take first- mover advantage (as almost a third of our respondents’ claim they wanted) face significant challenges catalyzing innovation. In part, this comes down
to capacity: 79% of respondents across the globe told us that they were already running at full tilt just keeping up with their core requirements.

Capability is also a key concern. Lack of skills and capability was ranked by 74% of respondents as a top three barrier to innovation, particularly for smaller and mid-sized organizations and those based in Europe. Simply put, insurers know what they need to do to drive innovation but recognize they lack certain skills to achieve it.

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To be fair, most insurers have certainly been working hard to improve their innovation strategy and capabilities. Many have already implemented cultural change programs focused on fostering innovation and training programs to develop idea generation and innovation skills. Others have put their sights on widening their innovation ecosystem by engaging in partnerships with academics, FinTechs and other third parties to drive innovation. Some have even changed their business models or created innovation “hubs” or “labs.”

Lessons from leaders

Our experience suggests that while all of these previous initiatives are valuable, few organizations have been bold enough in their objectives or their execution to truly drive change. Based on our research, our interviews and our experience, we have identified six key ways that leading insurers are becoming more innovative.

  1. They are focusing on creating a customer-centric culture. While more than half of respondents say they have conducted a cultural change program in the past five years, our experience suggests that they may have focused their efforts in the wrong area. Rather than trying to become more innovative, insurers may instead want to become more customer-centric, which, in turn, will drive innovation.
  2. They are willing to disrupt their existing business models. Doing more of the same, only faster, is not a recipe for long-term growth. Leading insurance players recognize the need to innovate not only product and service development, but also how they approach innovation itself. Insurers and intermediaries need to be willing to try new models and partner with new stakeholders to truly compete in an innovation-led competitive marketplace.

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  1. They apply agile and dedicated leadership. Innovation requires leadership, strong executive support and clear vision. There’s no secret engine behind a door that creates innovative energy for an organization. It’s not about having the best game plan; it’s about having a coach who knows which players to put in the field to execute on the game plan. That’s how goals are scored.
  2. They mitigate risk by investing and experimenting. The best companies have discovered ways to link their investments to the expected frequency and severity of risks to ensure they are appropriately matching investment to risk. They have started to experiment with new business models. Looking at the viability of their current business model and the role of technology in their competitive strategy, they are also exploring new business models and businesses as the profile of risk changes.
  3. They understand why they are investing. While most organizations report that they measure their return on their innovation investments in some way or another, the leading insurers are working to ensure that they have the right alignment with business objectives and are broadening their metrics beyond simple financial ROI calculations to include more subjective measures such as public reputation or customer engagement.
  4. They learn from others. We believe partnerships will be key to future success, but we need the right structures, models and infrastructure to create value. Large organizations need to learn to partner, and all organizations need to learn to partner effectively. Consider alliances with partners outside of insurance to accelerate customer benefits and expand the value chain.

The road ahead

Our research and discussions with established and start-up players suggest that — to make the most of this new world of opportunity — the insurance industry needs to pivot from a traditionally risk-averse culture to one that encourages experimentation while mitigating financial risk.

To achieve this, insurers will need to tap into new sources of innovation, accessing fresh ideas from employees, customers, investors and partners, which, in turn, will require progressive leadership at the top of the organization.

The innovation imperative is clear for insurers. Now it’s time to make the most of the world of opportunities that exists for those bold and innovative enough to seize these opportunities to create competitive advantage.

Reprinted from (Regulatory Challenges Facing the Insurance Industry in 2016,) Copyright: 2016 KPMG LLP, a Delaware limited liability partnership and the U.S. member firm of the KPMG network of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”), a Swiss entity. All rights reserved. Printed in the U.S.A. The KPMG name and logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of KPMG International.

All information provided is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavor to provide accurate and timely information, there can be no guarantee that such information is accurate as of the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future. No one should act upon such information without appropriate professional advice after a thorough examination of the facts of a particular situation.

For additional news and information, please access KPMG’s global web site.

Your Next Director Should Be a Geek

Imagine that you were a major investor in a leading company, and its board of directors had no members with independent, world-class financial expertise. Who would look after your interests? You could probably coach the directors to ask good questions, but they would lack the competence to judge the answers. The board would not be able to engage management in robust conversations about the complexities of capital structure, mergers and acquisitions, financial accounting, reporting, regulatory compliance or risk management. Most investors and regulators would deem such a board unfit to carry out its fiduciary guidance and governance responsibilities.

Yet that’s precisely where many companies are when it comes to information technology. Digitally driven change is becoming as critical an issue to most companies as finance. Companies are being called on to reimagine and reconstruct every aspect of their business; customers, suppliers and markets expect no less. Consider the rapidly expanding use of mobile phones in retail and banking. Or the changes foreseen in the transportation industry due to car-hailing algorithms and driverless vehicles. Already, one MIT study has found that digitally adept companies are, on average, as much as 26% more profitable than their competitors. And that advantage is only likely to increase.

The boards of many large companies are ill-equipped for these shifts. That was the conclusion of our 2015 study of more than 1,000 nonexecutive and executive directors at 112 of the largest publicly traded companies in the U.S. and Europe. By analyzing company filings and public information, we found that all too many boards lacked the expertise needed to understand how technology informs strategy and affects execution. In Europe, for example, 95% of the companies we assessed, excluding technology and telecommunications companies, still had no non-executive directors with deep technology fluency. In the U.S., almost half of the surveyed companies had no technology expertise on their boards. These included major financial-services, insurance, industrial and consumer products companies. Yet each of those industries is grappling with complex strategic questions that hinge on technology.

See Also: How Leadership Will Look in 20 Years

Even boards with world-class technology expertise can have blind spots in areas of strategic importance; these include analytics, cybersecurity and digital fabrication. And even experts who keep up with particular technologies may miss the general effects of rapid technologically driven change on core products, business models and customer preferences.

Many board members are aware of these deficiencies. They know that their companies will either embrace technological change and claim the markets of the future or be put out of business. In 2015, a PwC global survey of large-company directors found that 85% of the respondents were dissatisfied with the way their companies were “anticipating the competitive advantages enabled by technology.” Almost as many, 79%, said their boards did not sufficiently understand technology.

The pervasiveness of the problem is troubling for anyone who cares about these companies — but it also represents an enormous opportunity. At the board level, there is a need for knowledgeable, incisive “geeks”: independent directors with experience and perspective in putting technology to use. In the past, many boards have compensated by relying on management or external consultants for strategic advice. But the stakes are now too high to take that approach.

Boards can no longer duck the responsibility for the company’s digital transformation. They must take real ownership by ensuring that they are equipped to fully understand this part of the board agenda. Otherwise, how can they adequately oversee their company’s strategy, investments and expense base? How can they guide profitability, manage risk, assess management performance and ensure proper talent supply? Below are three critical steps you can take to better prepare your company for these challenges.

1. Hold out for sufficiently broad and deep expertise. Although company leaders agree on the need to attract technology-fluent directors, they often approach the undertaking as an exercise in diversity. They “check the box” by bringing in one person to stand for the full technological field, rather than seeking multiple directors with relevant experience and insight.

To assess the severity of this deficiency in the companies we studied, we analyzed the resumes of their nonexecutive directors on four distinct aspects of technology: pure-play disruptive digital business, enterprise-level IT, cybersecurity and the digital transformation of Fortune 500–sized enterprises. Each is critical to boards’ oversight responsibilities, and fluency in each requires a distinct body of knowledge and experience. Few experts in enterprise-level value-chain IT could offer expert guidance on building disruptive digital business, and vice versa. We found that more than 90% of the companies, including technology and telecommunications firms, lacked expertise in one or more of these critical technology areas. Our research revealed only two companies that addressed all areas: Google and Wells Fargo.

To address the gap, you must open multiple board seats for people with technological experience. Just as having only one woman on a board has proven to be insufficient, having just one IT-savvy member is problematic. To fill these seats, you may have to reach beyond the traditional search targets of former CEOs and CFOs. Tap into recent CIOs, CTOs and other C-level leaders at successful information-intensive companies; retired military officers with large information-technology commands; and senior consulting and private equity partners with deep cross-industry expertise in enterprise technology transformations. Resist the urge to rely solely on Silicon Valley experience. Start-up experience is valuable, but addresses just a small part of the large enterprise technology challenge. Likewise, the “move fast and break things” attitude in Silicon Valley often does not translate well to other industries.

When recruiting these board members, be wary of candidates without fresh experience; in fast-moving fields such as cybersecurity or disruptive digital technology, people who are no longer active don’t always keep up with the latest trends. If executives in the business sector are scarce, look elsewhere; other sectors may be surprisingly relevant. In financial services, for example, understanding sophisticated process control is increasingly important. The best prospective board member may come from the logistics industry — from, say, FedEx or UPS.

2. Support robust discussions of technology with the right kinds of practices and management structures. There are two possible mechanisms for accomplishing suitably robust discussions. The first is to establish a formal technology-focused subcommittee of the full board, on par with other oversight functions such as audit or compensation. This can be helpful in raising critical issues and promoting deep discussion of complex topics. It also creates a mechanism for engaging external advisers.

Alternatively, set up a technology advisory committee that meets regularly with top management and periodically reports to the board. AT&T does this. It may be easier, with such a committee, to attract best-in-class expertise, given that the time commitment is low and there are no full fiduciary responsibilities. Typically, advisory committees can also rotate members more frequently than a board can. It must be remembered, however, that an advisory committee reports to management, not the board. This will color its advice.

Whatever the structure, it is important for this group to address topics that go beyond technology strategy and IT governance. The most important priority may be enterprise strategy and the ways in which technology makes new value propositions possible. FedEx, which is as much a technology company as a transportation icon, has used such a board to great effect for many years.

3. Set the right context. Alan Kay, one of the foremost pioneers in personal computer conception and design, once said, “Point of view is worth 80 IQ points.” The context with which your board of directors views technology is a critical element for enterprise success. They must collectively understand the 10 to 15 drivers of technology that have taken quantum leaps in the past decade — for example, big data and analytics, cloud computing, mobile technology, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and autonomous transportation — and the potential implications each has for the company.

They must also have a clear view of their own company’s IT landscape: their existing hardware and software, including estimates of redundancy, age, robustness, any risk of obsolescence and costs. For example, how many marketing systems, customer databases and human resource systems does the company have? How interoperable are those systems? The need to ask these types of questions about a factory or back-office footprint would be obvious, but boards have generally neglected such inquiries regarding technology. The board must also understand risks related to technology, the defenses currently in play and any weaknesses in those defenses. Most important, the board must understand how the company’s IT systems relate to the company’s overall strategy, and what capabilities are needed to support it.

It falls to the board to ensure that the company has a multiyear plan to address technology needs while reducing costs and risk. Boards need not grant a license to spend. On the contrary, the hallmark of computers and networks is that they continually get faster, better and cheaper. These benefits accrue only to those with modern gear, however, so frequent upgrades are essential.

Finally, the board must incorporate its expanded technology context into larger deliberations. Talent recruiting and leadership development should be designed to fill gaps in technological fields. The criticality of IT should inform the review of proposed mergers and acquisitions. A close link to the audit committee is important because technology affects regulatory compliance and ethical issues. And the relationship to full board strategy discussions is critical.

Of course, placing someone with world-class technology expertise on a board does not guarantee success. Many technically proficient companies have lost to upstarts with a better product or service. But without this expertise, boards cannot play their most important role: intervening with substantive conversations about strategic decisions early enough to make a difference. And without these focused conversations about technological investments and decisions, boards cannot fulfill their fiduciary responsibilities.

Today, every board of directors has a once-in-a-generation chance to leapfrog the competition through technology competency. The opportunity is great because the task is difficult, and there is no large pool of talent waiting to be recruited. Those companies that meet this challenge successfully will capture the markets of the future.

A version of this article appeared in the Summer 2016 issue of strategy+business.

How to Redesign Customer Experience

Humans have amazing capabilities and, even more, they can be amplified by the power of technology. When both are working in harmony, what was once impossible becomes possible. Technology is now the “X” factor that can help you become more efficient while more effectively serving your base. When it is intentionally aligned with human effort, technology acts a weapon you can wield to strengthen your organization, increase the ability of your team and delight your customers or members. Discovering this human/technology balance is a process we often walk our clients through; many of these clients are in the financial services space, which is an industry being transformed by technology as much as any. There will be winners and losers in the financial space and the defining variable will be how well you can learn to integrate humans and technology to deliver your business model. We call this integration Humalogy.

What is Humalogy?

Humalogy is the integration of technology and human effort to improve processes and offer a positive and meaningful impact on an organization. That’s only when Humalogy is properly balanced. Understanding the Humalogy balance is critical because if left unbalanced it can be expensive to an organization, highly infuriating to customers or both. The balance you find will enable you to do some magical things. Here are just a few examples:

See Also: Tips on Improving Customer Experience

  • Increase your individual, team and organizational effectiveness and capacity through lean processes and efficiency
  • Increase the quantity of potential and current customers that you are able to effectively reach with your messaging
  • Create an environment of profit amplification by both reducing costs through automation while shaping a better customer experience through the use of digital tools
  • Implement customer service enhancements through technology-enabled convenience such as self-service
  • Enable people in your organization to be more productive and satisfied in their role, because technology has freed their time to accomplish tasks that humans do well while avoiding mundane, automated assignments. Simply, they’re able to focus on the satisfying, cerebral aspects of their careers.

The Humalogy Scale

We have developed the Humalogy scale to measure the balance of human and technology effort. We use this scale with our clients, many in the risk insurance space. Some processes lean heavily on humans (H5 on the Humalogy scale), and others primarily rely on technology (T5). Zero is an equal balance of effort from both humans and technology. What is important to recognize is that there is no “universally correct” balance. The proper balance for any space is the balance that yields you the highest level of efficiency combined with the best possible customer or member experience.

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For example, H5 would be an insurance agent traveling to an accident and manually filling out a claim. Moving across the scale, we find a claimant snapping a picture of the accident using a smartphone and then filing a claim using a mobile app and receiving payment through direct deposit. This requires much less human effort and so is high on the T-side of the scale.

By defining where these processes are on the Humalogy Scale, it becomes easier to determine where to apply technology to drive efficiency, scalability or repetition. At the same time, in our technology-augmented world, we need to be conscious that some processes can be improved by adding the human elements that supply empathy, innovation and build trust.

Tasks more suited for human work involve rational processing of information, deep thinking, social and emotional intelligence and those tasks that require creativity, intuition and improvisation. Meanwhile, tasks more suited for computers are those that execute rules or processes, involve repetition or mechanization, require big data analysis or are too dangerous or too large or small for a human to accomplish.

Finding Humalogy Balance

Humalogy is important because when you apply this process to your business, it becomes a lens that can help you improve customer service while creating a lean organization that lowers costs.

Have you taken inventory of the technology expectations of your members? No industry is exempt from the evolving expectations of constituents who want access to services easily and instantly. Self-service is how industries are meeting the customer where they are — customers are now equipped to complete tasks that once required a service representative, often from their personal tablet or smartphone. Defining which processes you can automate and provide self-service using technology will help satisfy your customers and endear them to you.

On the other hand, the wrong Humalogy balance can result in poor customer service and a loss of loyalty. If your approach to Humalogy is not planned, often what may have been calculated for good can result in catastrophe. How many times have you felt alienated as a customer because a service provider tipped its Humalogy scale and traded personal touch for an automated call center? If someone wants to speak to a human representative, it is important to offer the opportunity.

Humalogy is a tool that can be considered in a number of functional areas. The two primary ways we apply Humalogy in the risk insurance space is through lean and relationship journey mapping.

Humalogy-Based Lean to Strengthen Process Efficiency

Humalogy-based lean is designed to help organizations improve their back office processes so that they’re more efficient. Some companies follow Lean Six Sigma practices that have emerged from years of optimizing physical and manufacturing processes. These methods are powerful and effective but can be very narrowly focused on the process. At other times, this approach may improve the human parts of the process but fall short when it comes to implementing technology. On the other end of the spectrum, aggressive automation efforts driven by technologists may miss important nuances that may be better handled by humans. In the worst case, a technology-centric approach can result in automating broken processes.

How do you get, and stay, on the right path so that you both improve your processes and automate appropriately? We recommend applying a Humalogy lens that lets you examine a process from some distinct angles:

  • It lets us decide if a process involves a greater emphasis on human effort or technology effort. This helps us understand which processes are too heavily human and in need of automation.
  • It helps determine which processes we should immediately devote attention to improving. We are able to prioritize more effectively.
  • It acts as a reminder that a solution isn’t always a technology solution. Often with processes, a greater human involvement is necessary to help a process run more effectively.
  • When we analyze processes, we are forced to diagram those processes to understand what is happening at each step. This gives deeper insight into how technology may be used to transform a process.

While Humalogy-based lean can help you improve back-office processes, studying Humalogy from the perspective of your customers will help improve their experience. This is accomplished by mapping the relationship journey.

Humalogy to Improve Customer Experience

Relationship journey mapping involves walking alongside your customers as they engage with your organization. We develop a subset of very targeted groups based on individual personas. In this process, we analyze together each critical stage of your customer or member journey and evaluate the touch points where you have the opportunity to engage directly with these personas. The goal of journey mapping is to maximize each opportunity and design the best possible experience for each customer.

See Also: Keen Insights on Customer Experience

The consideration of Humalogy is an important component of our journey mapping process. As you consider each of the personas who interact with your organization, you will also consider their proclivity to use technology at each stage. Would he want you to deliver all correspondence electronically? Would she be more willing to read a print newsletter you’ve sent her in the mail, or would an email with the information that you wish to present her suffice. Is he more likely to use a desktop computer or a smartphone? Would she be interested in a mobile application or online portal? Journey mapping allows you to consider the needs of each individual and then discover ways to satisfy those needs.

Developing and using proper journey maps allow you to create a one-to-one experience for each of your customers. You will understand how to provide positive engagements that they will likely choose to discuss with their networks. In short, you can increase your value to your customers, and that’s really what it’s all about.

Technology is already transforming your life and your industry. Technology can also, in an incredible way, transform your organization, everything from your day-to-day operations to the way you engage your customers.