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UBI Has Failed, but Telematics…Wow!

Insurance telematics has been out there for more than 20 years. Many insurers have tried to play with the technology, but few have succeeded in using the data available from connected telematics devices. The potential of this technology was misunderstood, and best practices have remained almost unknown, as it was not common in the insurance sector to look for innovation in other geographies, such as Italy, where progress has been made.

But the insurance sector is being overtaken by a desire to change, and it’s becoming more common to see innovation scouting taking place on an international level. In the last two years, billions of dollars have been invested in insurance startups; innovation labs and accelerators have popped up; and many insurance carriers have created internal innovation units.

On the other hand, I’m starting to hear a new wave of disillusion about the lack of traction of insurtech initiatives, the failure of some of them, or insurtech startups radically changing from their original business models.

In a world that tends toward hyperconnectivity and the infiltration of technology into all aspects of society, I’m firmly convinced all insurance players will be insurtech—meaning they all will be organizations where technology will prevail as the key enabler for the achievement of strategic goals.

See also: Telematics Has 2 Key Lessons for Insurtechs  

Starting from this premise, I’d like to focus on two main points:

  1. The ability of the insurance sector to innovate is incredibly higher than the image commonly perceived.
  2. While not all insurtech innovations will work, a few of them will change the sector.

In support of the first point, consider the trajectory of digital insurance distribution. The German Post Office first experimented with remote insurance sales at the beginning of the 1980s in Berlin and Düsseldorf using Bildschirmtext (data transmitted through the telephone network and the content displayed on a television set). Almost 60% of auto insurance coverage is now sold online in the U.K., and comparison websites are the “normal” way to purchase an auto insurance policy. In few other sectors is one able to see comparable penetration of digital distribution.

In the health insurance sector, the South African insurer Discovery demonstrates incredible innovation, as well. Over the last 20 years, the insurer has introduced new ways to improve policyholders’ lives using connected fitness devices to track healthy behaviors, generate discounts and deliver incentives for activities supporting wellness and even healthy food purchases. Discovery has been able to replicate this “Vitality” model in different geographies and different business lines and to exploit more and more usage of connected devices in its model each month. Vitalitydrive by Discovery rewards drivers for driving knowledge, driving course attendance and behavior on the road with as much as 50% back on fuel purchases at certain stations.

More than 12 months ago, I published my four Ps approach for selecting the most interesting initiatives within the crowded insurtech space. I believe initiatives will have a better chance to win if they can improve:

  • Productivity (generate more sales).
  • Profitability (improve loss or cost ratios).
  • Proximity (improve customer relationships through numerous customer touchpoints).
  • Persistency (account retention, renewal rate increase).

Those insurtech initiatives will make the insurance sector stronger and more able to achieve its strategic goal: to protect the way people live.

One trend able to generate a concrete impact on all four Ps is connected insurance. This is a broad set of solutions based on sensors for collecting data on the state of an insured risk and on telematics for remote transmission and management of the collected data.

In a survey of ACORD members by the North American Connected Insurance Observatory, 93% of respondents stated this trend will be relevant for the North American insurance sector. It’s easy to understand why. We live in a time of connected cars, connected homes and connected health. Today, there is more than one connected device per person in the world, and by some estimates the figure will reach seven devices per person by 2020. (Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group, “The Internet of Things: How the Next Evolution of The Internet Is Changing Everything,” April 2011, estimates seven per person; AIG/CEA, 2015, estimates five per person.) Others put the number at 50 devices for a family of four by 2022, up from 10 in 2014. The insurance sector cannot stop this trend; it can only figure out how to deal with it.

Moving to the concrete insurance usage of connected devices, the common perception of UBI is not positive at all. This is the current mood after years of exploring the usage of dongles within customer acquisition use cases, where the customer installs a piece of hardware in the car for a few months and the insurer proposes a discount based on the analysis of trips. This partially (only for a few months) connected car approach is based on the usage of data to identify good drivers, with the aim of keeping them as clients through a competitive price offer. In 2015, around 3.3 million cars in the U.S. sent in data to an insurance company in some way, representing less than 1.5% of the market.

In contrast, another market used telematics in a completely different way—and it succeeded. Almost 20% of auto insurance policies sold and renewed in the last quarter of 2016 in Italy had a telematics device provided by an insurer based on the IVASS data. The European Connected Insurance Observatory—the European chapter of the insurance think tank I created, consisting of more than 30 European insurers, reinsurers and tech players with an active presence in the discussion from their Italian branches—estimated that 6.3 million Italian customers had a telematics policy at the end of 2016.

Some insurers in this market were able to use the telematics data to create value and share it with customers. The most successful product with the largest traction is based on three elements:

  • A hardware device provided by the insurer with auto liability coverage, self-installed by the customer on the battery under the car’s hood.
  • A 20% upfront flat discount on annual auto liability premium.
  • A suite of services that goes beyond support in the case of a crash to many other different use cases—stolen vehicle recovery, car finder, weather alerts—with a service fee around €50 charged to the customer.

This approach is not introducing any usage-based insurance elements but is an approach clearly able to satisfy the most relevant needs of a customer:

  • Saving money on a compulsory product. Research shows that pricing is relevant in customer choice.
  • Receiving support and convenience at the moment of truth—the claims moment. Insurers are providing a better customer experience after a crash using the telematics data. Just think of how much information can be gathered directly from telematics data without having to question the client.
  • Receiving services other than insurance. That’s something roughly 60% of insurance customers look forward to and value, according to Bain’s research on net promoter scores published last year.

Let’s analyze this approach from an economic perspective:

  • The fee to the customer is close to the annual technology cost for the hardware and services. The €50 mentioned above represents more than 5% of the insurance premium for the risky clients paying an annual premium higher than €1,000. This cluster represents less than 5% of the Italian telematics market. The fee is more than 10% of the premium for the customers paying less than €400. This cluster represents more than 40% of the Italian telematics market.
  • The product is a constant, daily presence in the car, with the driver, with no possibility of turning it off. While the product ensures support in case of a crash, it is also a tremendous deterrent for anyone tempted to make a fraudulent claim, as well as for drivers engaging in risky behavior otherwise hidden from the insurer.
  • The telematics portfolio has shown on average 20% lower claims frequency on a risk-adjusted basis than the non-telematics portfolio, based on the analysis done by the Italian Association of Insurers.
  • Insurer best practices have achieved additional savings on the average cost of claims by introducing a claims management approach as soon as a crash happens and by using the objective reconstruction of the crash dynamic to support the claim handler’s decisions.
  • A suite of telematics services is delivered to the customer, along with a 25% upfront discount on the auto liability premium.

So, best practices allowed carriers to maximize return on investment in telematics technology by using the same data coming from the black box to activate three different value creation levers: value-added services paid for by the customer, risk selection and loss control. The value created was shared with the customer through the upfront discount. The successful players obtained a telematics penetration larger than 20% and experienced continuous growth of their telematics portfolios.

See also: Telematics: Moving Out of the Dark Ages?  

These insurers were able to orchestrate an ecosystem of partners to deliver a “customer-centric” auto insurance value proposition, satisfying the three main needs of customers—or at least those of “good” customers. Compared with many approaches currently being experimented with in different business lines around the world, where the insurance value proposition is simply enlarged by adding some services, this insurtech approach is also leveraging the insurers’ unique competitive advantage—the insurance technical P&L—to create a virtuous value-sharing mechanism based on the telematics data.

The story of the Italian auto telematics market shows how insurtech adoption will make the insurance sector stronger and better able to achieve its strategic goals: to protect the ways in which people live and organizations work

This article originally appeared on Carrier Management.

How Tech Created a New Industrial Model

With a connected device for every acre of inhabitable land, we are starting to remake design, manufacturing, sales. Really, everything.

With little fanfare, something amazing happened: Wherever you go, you are close to an unimaginable amount of computing power. Tech writers use the line “this changes everything” too much, so let’s just say that it’s hard to say what this won’t change.

It happened fast. According to Cisco Systems, in 2016 there were 16.3 billion connections to the internet around the globe. That number, a near doubling in just four years, works out to 650 connections for every square mile of Earth’s inhabitable land, or roughly one every acre, everywhere. Cisco figures the connections will grow another 60% by 2020.

Instead of touching a relatively simple computer, a connected smartphone, laptop, car or sensor in some way touches a big cloud computing system. These include Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure or my employer, Google (which I joined from the New York Times earlier this year to write about cloud computing).

Over the decade since they started coming online, these big public clouds have moved from selling storage, network and computing at commodity prices to also offering higher-value applications. They host artificial intelligence software for companies that could never build their own and enable large-scale software development and management systems, such as Docker and Kubernetes. From anywhere, it’s also possible to reach and maintain the software on millions of devices at once.

For consumers, the new model isn’t too visible. They see an app update or a real-time map that shows traffic congestion based on reports from other phones. They might see a change in the way a thermostat heats a house, or a new layout on an auto dashboard. The new model doesn’t upend life.

For companies, though, there is an entirely new information loop, gathering and analyzing data and deploying its learning at increasing scale and sophistication.

Sometimes the information flows in one direction, from a sensor in the Internet of Things. More often, there is an interactive exchange: Connected devices at the edge of the system send information upstream, where it is merged in clouds with more data and analyzed. The results may be used for over-the-air software upgrades that substantially change the edge device. The process repeats, with businesses adjusting based on insights.

See also: ‘Core in the Cloud’ Reaches Tipping Point  

This cloud-based loop amounts to a new industrial model, according to Andrew McAfee, a professor at M.I.T. and, with Eric Brynjolfsson, the coauthor of “Machine, Platform, Crowd,” a new book on the rise of artificial intelligence. AI is an increasingly important part of the analysis. Seeing the dynamic as simply more computers in the world, McAfee says, is making the same kind of mistake that industrialists made with the first electric motors.

“They thought an electric engine was more efficient but basically like a steam engine,” he says. “Then they put smaller engines around and created conveyor belts, overhead cranes — they rethought what a factory was about, what the new routines were. Eventually, it didn’t matter what other strengths you had, you couldn’t compete if you didn’t figure that out.”

The new model is already changing how new companies operate. Startups like Snap, Spotify or Uber create business models that assume high levels of connectivity, data ingestion and analysis — a combination of tools at hand from a single source, rather than discrete functions. They assume their product will change rapidly in look, feel and function, based on new data.

The same dynamic is happening in industrial businesses that previously didn’t need lots of software.

Take Carbon, a Redwood City, CA maker of industrial 3D printers. More than 100 of its cloud-connected products are with customers, making resin-based items for sneakers, helmets and cloud computing parts, among other things.

Rather than sell machines, Carbon offers them like subscriptions. That way, it can observe what all of its machines are doing under different uses, derive conclusions from all of them on a continuous basis and upgrade the printers with monthly software downloads. A screen in the company’s front lobby shows total consumption of resins being collected on AWS, the basis for Carbon’s collective learning.

“The same way Google gets information to make searches better, we get millions of data points a day from what our machines are doing,” says Joe DeSimone, Carbon’s founder and CEO. “We can see what one industry does with the machine and share that with another.”

One recent improvement involved changing the mix of oxygen in a Carbon printer’s manufacturing chamber. That improved drying time by 20%. Building sneakers for Adidas, Carbon was able to design and manufacture 50 prototype shoes faster than it used to take to do half a dozen test models. It manufactures novel designs that were previously theoretical.

The cloud-based business dynamic raises a number of novel questions. If using a product is now also a form of programming a producer’s system, should a company’s avid data contributions be rewarded?

For Wall Street, which is the more interesting number: the revenue from sales of a product, or how much data is the company deriving from the product a month later?

Which matters more to a company, a data point about someone’s location, or its context with things like time and surroundings? Which is better: more data everywhere, or high-quality and reliable information on just a few things?

Moreover, products are now designed to create not just a type of experience but a type of data-gathering interaction. A Tesla’s door handles emerge as you approach it carrying a key. An iPhone or a Pixel phone comes out of its box fully charged. Google’s search page is a box awaiting your query. In every case, the object is yearning for you to learn from it immediately, welcoming its owner to interact, so it can begin to gather data and personalize itself. “Design for interaction” may become a new specialization.

 The cloud-based industrial model puts information-seeking responsive software closer to the center of general business processes. In this regard, the tradition of creating workflows is likely to change again.

See also: Strategist’s Guide to Artificial Intelligence  

A traditional organizational chart resembled a factory, assembling tasks into higher functions. Twenty-five years ago, client-server networks enabled easier information sharing, eliminating layers of middle management and encouraging open-plan offices. As naming data domains and rapidly interacting with new insights move to the center of corporate life, new management theories will doubtless arise as well.

“Clouds already interpenetrate everything,” says Tim O’Reilly, a noted technology publisher and author. “We’ll take for granted computation all around us, and our things talking with us. There is a coming generation of the workforce that is going to learn how we apply it.”

Your Social Posts: Hackers Love Them

Social media is embedded in our lives—Facebook alone had 1.79 billion daily users as of September 2016—which means cyber criminals are not far behind.

As companies increasingly rely on this digital channel for marketing, recruiting, customer service and other business functions, social media also has become a highly effective vehicle for cyber attacks. Outside of the corporate network perimeter and an organization’s control, it throws traditional security approaches out the window.

A growing category of digital risk monitoring vendors, identified by Forrester Research Inc. in a recent quarterly Wave report, are catering to this problem. According to the report, digital channels—social, mobile, web and dark web—“are now ground zero for cyber, brand and even physical attacks.”

The ways in which cyber criminals weaponize these channels are limited only by their imagination. Hackers can create fake corporate accounts for harvesting customer credentials, impersonate company executives, damage the brand’s reputation and post legitimate-looking links that contain malware.

See also: Hacking the Human: Social Engineering  

According to Cisco’s 2016 annual security report, Facebook, for example, was the top mechanism last year for delivering malware, through social engineering, in order to gain access to organizational networks.

“(Social media) is a business technology platform, and because it’s been adopted at all levels of business … organizations have to figure out how to protect it,” says Evan Blair, co-founder and chief business officer at ZeroFOX, a digital-risk monitoring (DRM) vendor launched in 2013.

“And it’s a gold mine for intelligence on individuals,” he adds.

Social media—the ideal weapon

The sheer volume of traffic on social networks is a magnet not only for businesses but also for the criminal element.

According to the Pew Research Center, 79% of internet users are on Facebook, the most popular social network. About a third of internet users are on Instagram, and a quarter are on Twitter.

Better click-through rates and lower advertising costs, among other things, are compelling companies to throw more money at social media advertising (Hootsuite estimates social media budgets have nearly doubled, from $16 billion in 2014 to $31 billion in 2016).

But it’s not just the growing numbers of users and increased brand presence that creates an attractive playground for bad actors. It’s easy to create accounts and instantly attract followers—which means it’s easier than email for reaching a massive number of people with a phishing attack.

Adding to the problem is that social media can be highly automated because it was built on an open API (application programming interface) that allows developers access to proprietary applications.“It’s a frictionless environment that allows you to communicate immediately,” says Devin Redmond, general manager and vice president of digital risk and compliance solutions for Proofpoint, another DRM vendor.

Blair says: “Social media was built with automation in mind. You can create an account that interacts completely autonomously.”

Even though email remains the medium of choice, according to various security companies, email phishing is on the decline. Social media phishing, on the other hand, is growing.

Why organizations are at risk

Eric Olson, vice president of intelligence operations at LookingGlass, says what makes digital risk a high priority is that it’s a business risk that touches multiple facets of an organization. It not just about cybersecurity—it also involves compliance, human resources and legal, among others.

He says it’s important for security practitioners to focus on the how — e.g. phishing — rather than the channel it came from.

“You have to be able to keep eyes in all the dark corners,” Olson says.

A new technique Proofpoint identified in 2016 is angler phishing. Bad actors create a fake social media account on, say, Twitter, using stolen branding. They watch for customer service requests addressed to the legitimate account for a bank or a service like PayPal. They then tweet a reply with a link to a lookalike fake website where the customer is asked to enter login credentials.

Despite this growing threat, however, many security practitioners are not aligned with social media, Redmond says.

“The pace of adoption of social by enterprises and the pace of the risks that are evolving around that are growing much faster than people are addressing those risks,” he says.

An emerging space

The offerings of the vendors in this space vary. For example, ZeroFOX focuses largely on social media. Proofpoint covers social, mobile, web and email. LookingGlass integrates machine readable/open source feeds, analyst services, threat intelligence tools and appliances.

Whatever approach they take, more security companies are likely to join in because the market is still growing.

But even savvy companies are struggling to secure these channels. The hacking of Microsoft’s Skype for Business Twitter account in 2014 is proof—the Syrian Electronic Army wasted no time tweeting negative messages after taking over the account. They got some 8,000 retweets.

See also: Social Media And The Insurance Implications  

“Social media is the best attack platform for a nation-state actor and sophisticated cyber criminals, not just because it’s the easiest one to leverage for compromise, but it’s also completely anonymous,” Blair says.

Redmond expects mobile to be another rising digital frontier, as more bad actors use fraudulent apps to do things like harvesting credentials.

“If you look at it through the lens of bad actors, they’ve figured out all these are effective vehicles,” he says. They don’t have to break in any more — they just have to pretend they’re someone else.

He adds, “They can do that more rapidly, at a greater scale, with less chance of detection.”

This post was written by Rodika Tollefson and first appeared on ThirdCertainty.

How to Reimagine Insurance With IoT

In our hyper-connected world, it’s no longer just our phones and computers that are connected to the Internet; our homes, our cars and even our own bodies are, too. Voice-activated smart-home systems, wearable fitness trackers and drones are becoming more and more commonplace, showing the profound impact of the Internet of Things (IoT) on our everyday lives – and our businesses.

With global spending on IoT devices and services expected to reach $1.7 trillion by 2020, digital disruption is infiltrating every vertical market, including the insurance industry. In the wake of this disturbance, we are seeing a dramatic rise in investments in innovative digital insurance startups, also known as “insurtechs.” Just as “fintechs” are disrupting the financial services industry, insuretechs are challenging traditional broker-based insurance business models. Now, to meet the needs of today’s consumers who expect anytime, anywhere service and support, incumbents are faced with two options: digitally transform their organizations or go out of business.

Driving disruption: Insurtechs and IoT behind the wheel

In 2015, insurtech investments more than tripled, from $700 million to $2.5 billion, as venture capitalists embrace creative, new business models that reimagine insurance by leveraging Internet-enabled devices, self-serve technologies and peer-to-peer (P2P) platforms. For example, Sequoia Capital recently provided U.S. P2P startup Lemonade with $13 million in initial funding to offer consumer insurance based on self-serve technology. In addition, some of the world’s largest insurers, such as Aviva and MetLife, have formed their own, internal venture capital funds to invest in startups that could propel their digitization efforts.

See also: Insurance and the Internet of Things  

Despite these efforts, the insurance industry is actually one of the least-prepared for the changes that IoT, sensors, big data sources and other disruptive technologies will bring. In fact, a 2016 survey showed that only 36% of respondents from insurance companies said that their organization can use insights from new data sources to boost company value. The good news is that insurers seem to understand the impact that digitization will bring, and the speed and scope of the disruption. A BI Intelligence survey reports that 75% of insurance executives expect to feel pressure to innovate from new data sources, such as IoT devices, within three to five years.

Unlocking new capabilities, new markets with IoT

Insurers must embrace insurtechs and consider the many ways that IoT can help them differentiate themselves in a rapidly changing landscape. With IoT, insurance companies can leverage big data analytics to better understand and underwrite risk, improve loss prevention and even predict consumer behavior. In the home insurance realm, security systems, video monitors, smoke detectors and other “connected home” appliances allow carriers to obtain significant data to help mitigate homeowner risk. Or, car insurance carriers can provide users with applications that monitor driving habits, allowing them to predict risks based on the collected data (as well as give users discounts for safe driving records). We even see property insurance companies using drones to quickly and accurately assess damages, and simplify their adjusters’ workflows.

In addition, the visibility into risk allotted by IoT and internet-enabled devices allows insurers to tap into opaque and difficult-to-serve markets, like cyber liability insurance. This is great news for both insurers and clients. Still, fewer than 10% of companies have cyber insurance, and just seven insurers control about 80% of the entire market. Instead of relying on questionnaires and limited data for underwriting cyber risk, insurers can use IoT technologies and in-depth threat analytics to perform more detailed assessments – and gain a bigger slice of the market.

The customer experience is still king

All this talk about digitization, self-serve technology and changing customer expectations raises a huge question: Where does the agent fit? Will customers be more inclined to rely solely on mobile technology and new types of devices to conduct business, and forgo traditional, “face-to-face” interactions? Rest assured, that is not the case. Rather, insurers can use digital transformation as a means to develop more personalized, engaging experiences that strengthen customer relationships and serve as a competitive differentiator.

In many situations, insurers in the midst of digital transformation are employing agent and digital business models. With “agent and digital,” consumers have the best of both worlds – quick, convenient access to information and purchase of products through mobile devices and other channels, as well as one-on-one, real-life service when they need it. Moreover, these technologies allow insurers to obtain a 360-degree of the client and use analytics to evaluate their behavior, anticipate their needs and offer the best products with the right price, at the right time. Plus, insurers can better connect customer journeys across channels, from new customer acquisition to on-boarding, to service, to claims and more.

Mobile tools are especially useful for agents working in the field. They can quickly consult their carriers’ experts for real-time advice on complex transactions, and even directly connect the customer with the carrier to help close deals and resolve issues faster. The result is a happier customer and a more informed, productive agent.

See also: How the ‘Internet of Things’ Affects Strategic Planning  

As we embark on a new year, the heat is on for insurers to digitally transform themselves, or they will undoubtedly fall behind. However, bringing their digital strategies to life involves more than simply investing in insurtechs and acquiring new technological capabilities. Successfully implementing digital transformation requires insurers to effectively align those technologies to their business strategies and scale them across their entire enterprise. In the end, the insurers that do so will find themselves with greater market share and, more importantly, happier, lifelong customers.

How to Eliminate Cybersecurity Clutter

Earlier this year, defense contractor Raytheon spun out the cybersecurity services it had been supplying via Raytheon Cyber Products into a new business entity called Forcepoint.

Forcepoint is also composed of security software vendor Websense and next-generation firewall vendor Stonesoft, both of which Raytheon acquired in the past year or so.

See Also: Cyber Threats to Watch This Year

Forcepoint isn’t your typical security start-up. It already has 20,000 customers and ranges from businesses with 50 to 200,000 employees. Based in Austin, Texas, the company has about 2,200 employees in 44 offices worldwide. At the helm is CEO John McCormack, who was previously a senior executive at Websense, Symantec and Cisco.

John McCormack, Forcepoint CEO
John McCormack, Forcepoint CEO

McCormack sat down with us at ThirdCertainty as he takes command of the freshly minted entity. The text has been edited for clarity and length.

ThirdCertainty: What is Forcepoint all about?

McCormack: We want to be the company that helps organizations move to the age of cloud computing in a safe and secure way. And we want to help in reducing what I call “point product fatigue.” We’ve created a lot of point solutions for many of the cyber challenges that organizations face. And as I look in the eyes of many chief information security officers, I see real fatigue in their eyes. They’re still struggling to manage the environment they have today. Yet they need to get on top of these more determined adversaries.

3C: How is Forcepoint seeking to address that?

McCormack: Our viewpoint is that, as we work to reduce that point-product fatigue, you build an open architectural approach. You build it on cloud computing concepts and capabilities that reduce their administrative burden, that reduce that operational footprint. We have to make a meaningful difference so that we can work on more important topics of hardcore security analytics and analysis of the inevitable breaches that happen to most organizations.

3C: Where does an organization begin addressing a worsening cloud-centric environment?

McCormack: Have a healthy risk assessment and threat assessment done, and do best practices regularly. The other thing I would recommend is absolutely working on your weakest link. For all the technology and capabilities around cybersecurity, humans have been, and continue to be, the weakest link in the security chain. They get fooled. They aid and abet, and they make mistakes because of a lack of security awareness.

3C: Many times employees are just hustling to be more productive, not necessarily being careless.

McCormack: Absolutely right. Most accidents happen because you’ve got users who are trying to do a great job, quite frankly, and are just trying to be productive. But we also know firsthand that adversaries will recruit people to put into your organization who will work to compromise your organization. You have to be able to identify those insiders. And you’ve got to be able to identify the intent. If it’s an accident, that’s one route to take. But if it involved malicious intent, that’s a different route that you might want to take.

3C: So a new mindset, really, is needed in this environment.

McCormack: Yeah, you’ve got to bring your users into the fold. Cybersecurity is a highly technical field. You’ve got to make it reasonable to understand. Here at Forcepoint, we run a program called “Catch Of The Day.” Anything suspect, whether it’s physical security or cybersecurity, can be reported and immediately responded to by our teams with both feedback and education about what they found and what they saw. Then we celebrate every quarter. Some of the best catches have kept us from being compromised.