Tag Archives: world wide web

Ready for Fourth Industrial Revolution?

Every generation or so, technology takes a giant leap forward. Steam power, electricity and computing – each revolutionized the way we live and work. Where once it was the loom, the lightbulb and the mainframe, today it’s the internet’s turn.

Since its creation in the 1980s, the World Wide Web has grown at an explosive rate and can now do so much more than help people share information. Today, the web is evolving – to bring together people, businesses, machines and logistics into the Internet of Things (IoT).

The IoT is leading the fourth industrial revolution – known as “Industry 4.0.” It has the potential to transform our understanding of how everything can be connected and deliver enormous value to the world. Recent studies have estimated that it could add $14.2 trillion to the global economy by 2030. But if the IoT is to deliver on its immense potential, then businesses also need to get serious about tackling the new risks this era of connectivity promises.

A Brief History of Industry 4.0

Before the 1780s, people worked with their hands – there was no such thing as “industry.” Then came the steam engine, enabling high-speed transportation and mass production in factories. The world was transformed in that first industrial revolution. The second began in the 1870s with the widespread adoption of electricity, oil and steel – leading to such inventions as the light bulb, the telegraph and the internal combustion engine. In the 1970s and 1980s, the silicon chip heralded the third industrial revolution with the rapid rise of computing and robotics.

Today, we are in the midst of Industry 4.0. This is being driven by the global spread of the internet; new technology such as wireless sensors; and the dawn of artificial intelligence (AI). Like its predecessors, Industry 4.0 will transform the way we live and work.

See also: Welcome to the Robot Revolution  

How Industry 4.0 Will Change Everything

At a fundamental level, Industry 4.0 could unite the digital and physical worlds to offer a whole new universe of opportunities to gather and use information. This has the potential to improve efficiency and encourage innovation on a massive scale.

Operational efficiencies: When sensors can be placed almost anywhere, businesses are able to gather detailed insight into how their machinery and processes are operating. For example, imagine a company warehouse – it’s been run the same way for years and is functioning effectively. The company decides to install IoT sensors in the warehouse to monitor how the staff pick and place goods on the shelves. Analysis of the data from the sensors shows that forklift drivers are taking 30% longer journeys than necessary. New routes are devised, and productivity increases with minimal investment.

IoT can also help improve maintenance processes. Predictive maintenance – which can identify maintenance issues in real time – allows machine owners to perform cost-effective maintenance before malfunctioning technology becomes critically damaged. A key value proposition of industrial IoT is being able to determine ahead of time machinery that might fail, and take action based on that information. For instance, a company in Los Angeles could understand if a piece of equipment in Singapore is running at an abnormal speed or temperature. The company could then decide whether or not the equipment needs to be repaired.

Improved understanding of risk: Better visibility into operations helps organizations identify risks and take steps to mitigate them. Many industries say that IoT is helping, or has the opportunity to, lower overall risk in the organization. In 2014, for example, 20% of worker deaths happened in the construction industry. Providing construction workers with wearable tech devices can give companies the data they need to understand how employee accidents happen, so they can improve safety procedures.

More sensors collecting device data mean that risk can also be better understood and priced from an insurance perspective. This has already happened in the automotive sector with telematic usage-based insurance. Wireless monitors inside a car or truck can collect precise details on how an individual drives and use that data to construct tailored insurance packages.

The growth of a new data economy: The proliferation of sensors means every business is now potentially a data business. Stankard gives the example of a maker of agricultural equipment, which can harvest the data from its devices to design and sell business optimization plans. In the future, the largest revenue stream that companies will likely have is going to come from selling data and selling production efficiency consulting around their own equipment. It’s a completely new business model for a company that for a hundred years was focused on making and selling capital equipment.

New World, New Risks

The opportunities presented by Industry 4.0 are enormous. But to realize them, we will have to come to terms with an entirely new risk landscape.

Cyber Risks

Up until the IoT, industrial machinery was not online. There was a physical “air gap” between the production process and the web. The connectivity that Industry 4.0 brings means that this is no longer the case. Cyber risk is consequently amplified.

In 2015, hackers in Ukraine compromised sections of the country’s power grid by infecting plant operators’ IT networks with a virus hidden inside an Excel spreadsheet. One study from Kaspersky Labs found that 39% of computers involved in operating industrial infrastructure were subject to a cyber-attack in 2016.

Cyber risks themselves are likely to give rise to risks in other areas. For instance, governments are likely to respond to increasing cyber threats with tough new regulations, which will themselves mean new risks for companies. The EU’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), due for implementation in 2018, governs the handling of any data relating to EU citizens, with heavy penalties for non-compliance.

Understanding these risks and the regulations they may prompt, and putting into place appropriate measures to mitigate them, will be critical – as will nurturing a culture of collective corporate cyber responsibility. In an age where a single misplaced USB drive can corrupt the operational integrity of entire systems, education and accountability are vital if vulnerabilities are not to become gaping cracks in defenses.

Talent Risks

A changing world means that the people and skills that businesses need will also change. The first industrial revolution, centered on the British textile industry, put many weavers out of work, prompting riots across the country. But it simultaneously created demand for machine operators. Industry 4.0 is likely to prompt changes of its own to workforces.

Overall, there’s no clear consensus on whether the mass automation that will likely become part of Industry 4.0 will have a net positive or negative impact on jobs. Some argue that, as in previous revolutions, technologies like automation will increase wealth and productivity without affecting overall levels of employment. Other studies suggest a more pessimistic future of declining rates of employment and pay. What is certain is that talent requirements will change.

It is predicted that there will be a 2 million worker skill gap in manufacturing after the baby boomers start retiring, which will go unfilled between 2015 and 2025. Organizations involved in the future of industry and manufacturing will need to address the lack of skill development with better training and education programs.

See also: How to Respond to Industry Disruption  

Embracing the Future

Industry 4.0 is opening significant opportunities for organizations. From re-evaluating business models to new data-driven revenue streams, the possibilities are limitless.

However, there is going to be significant incremental risk, likely posed by cyber and the immense – and growing – amount of connectivity. There is a risk reduction element here, as well. With such levels of connectivity, Industry 4.0 is likely to isolate and improve quality issues and enhance the overall customer experience. Organizations will need to rise to these challenges to fully take advantage of the amazing new opportunities Industry 4.0 will offer.

5 Main Areas for Blockchain Impact

Blockchain, or distributed ledger technology, has quickly become a fixation in the financial services industry as a result of its potential to revolutionize our thinking about data sharing and security.

In considering the technology, senior business and IT leaders at property and casualty (P&C) companies must balance their natural skepticism about “next big thing” trends with a clear recognition of both the large-scale impacts and significant upside.

See also: What Blockchain Means for Insurance  

After all, it’s not hype to say that the opportunity is huge and that the possibilities of future applications are many. Similarly, it’s not hard to see how distributed, secure, peer-to-peer ledgers — the mysterious and exotic-sounding technology behind blockchain — may one day be as common in the insurance industry as Structured Query Language (SQL) databases. Blockchain has the potential to evolve into a core, underlying element in the technology “stacks” of most P&C carriers, supporting a diverse range of processes and part of your company’s future technology “plumbing.”

P&C executives must also keep in mind that these are still very early days. Blockchain in 2016 is roughly where the World Wide Web was in 1996 — on the radar of forward-thinking companies but still a long way from adoption at scale. Therefore, the question for most P&C companies is not whether they will adopt blockchain, but rather what and how to start testing, develop proof of concepts and proving out the value proposition.

In 2016, we saw numerous announcements of intent, but to date we’ve not seen many (any?) true applications of blockchain propositions live in the insurance market. In 2017, we will see the reality – in specialty P&C and in health insurance. This will lead to a fundamental rethinking of insurance business models.

See also: Blockchain: What Role in Insurance?  

In our new report, we look at emerging blockchain applications and the five main areas where we see the potential for transformation/disruption in the insurance industry.

100 Ideas That Changed Insurance

Recently, I bought a copy of Time magazine’s publication, TIME 100 Ideas That Changed the World: History’s Greatest Breakthroughs, Inventions and Theories, in an airport book store while on a business trip.

It was certainly a compact and interesting read, highlighting amazing innovations that we now accept as the norm of human existence on Planet Earth, from the discovery of germs to the foundation of a seven-day week to the building of the World Wide Web. I was amazed as I read through it and was reminded of how human existence since the beginning of recorded history has been truly shaped through ideas turned into game changing innovation results.

The purpose of this blog is not to get philosophical about our evolution as humans but, rather, to relate it to the world we live in every day: insurance. So of course, after I paged through the Time book, my wheels started spinning around the 100 ideas that have changed insurance – and I started to reflect on how we as an industry got to where we are today.

The history of innovation in insurance has largely been shaped by advances made in technology external to the industry. As markets, businesses and consumers start to access better ways of doing business, insurance companies adjust to meet those demands. The same can be said for many other industries. But insurance is unique because its very core concept is to protect our customers’ assets from loss and mitigate risks. So, inherently, the insurance industry will always adapt in some form to technology changes to assist the customer. That is what we do every day – we adapt – though some days we don’t necessarily remind ourselves of the core mission.

I started to ask myself, if we had to make a list, what would be the 100 ideas that changed insurance? I think it would be too hard to classify, in terms of the entire evolution of our ecosystem, because the last 100 years have changed so much. So let’s just focus on the last 40 years from a technology perspective: mainframes … client servers … personal computers … development of core systems and automated business processes … data processing to information systems … typewriters to the fax machine, copiers, printers, scanners and even email … our world on the World Wide Web … mobile phones … web applications … smart phones … big data … telematics and even some of the emerging technologies like Internet of Things, wearable devices, artificial intelligence, semantic technologies and even drones and aerial imagery. The list of maturing and emerging technologies does just go on and on. It might be hard to pare it down to just 100 ideas, even by looking at just technology.

The point is, when we talk of ideation and innovation, sometimes we forget to reflect on where we have been. Forty years ago, if someone described writing a blog for you that you could read on your mobile device, you may have seriously questioned their sanity. Today, it is commonplace.

As we move rapidly through 2015 – look at plans; take the time to reflect on successes; take the time to reflect on where we truly have been. Sometimes these reflections are the seeds of new ideas, new ways of doing business and new ways to gain an edge. Just think, for every great solution out there, there is a better one possible. Innovation should be inspiring our work, and I am excited to see where it leads us.

Flo Won't Handle Your File: Claims in the Social Media Age

Viral phenomena on the Internet more frequently concern “Cats that Look like Hitler” or racy photos of Prince Harry cavorting in Las Vegas.

Insurance claims rarely go viral on social media, but that changed recently with a controversial underinsured motorist claim involving Progressive Insurance Company. You can find background on the case here.

The sad facts here are straightforward. Progressive Insurance Company policyholder Katie Fisher died in a 2010 automobile crash in Maryland. Allegedly, the other driver ran a red light, though there was a dispute as to who had the green light and the right-of-way. The driver that struck Katie’s vehicle was under-insured. The good news: Katie had bought underinsured motorist coverage (UIM).

The bad news: to collect, Katie’s family had to sue the other driver for negligence to force Progressive to pay. However, when the family sued the other driver, Progressive’s attorneys associated with the other driver’s attorneys to defend the liability claim. As a result, the deceased’s brother went viral in social media rounds, complaining that Progressive used premium dollars to defend his sister’s killer in court. That makes for an arresting headline.

This claim illustrates the importance of an insurance company being attuned to social media and having a social media policy. Of course, here Progressive did not stick its head in the sand. It did not ignore the social media buzz surrounding its handling of the case. Apparently, it responded but responded in a way perceived as tone-deaf.

Progressive In A Lose-Lose Situation?
Maybe Progressive Insurance Company was in a no-win situation. If it ignored the social media banter about its stance, consumers would accuse it of insensitivity. It entered the dialogue to justify its actions. In so doing, people accused it of being tone-deaf to consumer sensitivities. I don’t know what response Progressive could have launched on social media that would have satisfied its critics.

This vignette underscores how little people understand what they buy when purchasing underinsured motorist coverage. Buying underinsured motorist coverage essentially risks putting you at odds with your own insurance company. In such a claim, your own insurance company is incentivized to show that you in fact were at fault for the accident and/or that your injuries were not the result of the negligence of an underinsured driver. People assume that the insurance company to whom they paid their premiums will always be on their side. Typically, this is the case. Typically, this is the alignment of interests.

In underinsured motorist coverage and claims, however, “typical” doesn’t necessarily apply. Here, interests are aligned differently. Just because you pay your insurance company for the coverage doesn’t mean that — in a claim involving an underinsured adverse driver — your insurance company is going to act all soft and fuzzy.

Of course, insurance companies would not effectively market and sell underinsured motorist coverage if they made this reality explicit and spotlighted it in the sales process. People don’t think it through. Nobody really believes deep down they will be hurt due to the fault of an underinsured driver. If they pay for the coverage, perhaps they pay for it begrudgingly at best.

Policyholder Ignorance About Underinsured Motorist Coverage
So, those who say “Shame on Progressive” for its stance adverse to its own policyholder could add, “Shame on the policyholder” for not realizing the dynamics in underinsured motorist claims. Of course, it sounds callous to be lecturing a family on the dynamics of claims-handling when they have lost their daughter in a fatal car accident.

Further, there was a reasonable question of fact as to who had the right-of-way. Should Progressive and its adjusters have ignored evidence that the deceased may have been at fault in order to pay the claim? It’s difficult to fault Progressive’s adjusters here, as tempting as it may be to do so. There was a legitimate dispute as to who had the right-of-way and who ran the red light. Was Progressive wrong for exercising its legal right to seek a judicial determination of liability?

Personally, I don’t think so.

Nevertheless, insurance companies now face not just bad faith risks over how their claim department handles or mishandles an automobile loss. They also face reputational risks if disgruntled consumers take to Twitter, Facebook, blogs, Tumblr, etc. to air their gripes.

Internet Megaphones
The Internet and social media provides a bully pulpit and cyberspace megaphone for anyone who has a beef, whether that complaint is justified or specious. On the other hand, since everyone now has an electronic megaphone via the Internet, World Wide Web and social media, the cacophony of complaints can create a “white noise” effect that makes any one complaint difficult to stand out. This complaint did stand out, though, and got widespread media play.

While it is tempting to say “No comment” or “We won’t try our case in the media,” insurance companies — like other businesses — cannot take an ostrich approach and stick their heads in the proverbial sand.

The takeaways and lessons from this go beyond Progressive Insurance Company. Katie Fisher’s case illustrates that in the 21st century:

  • insurance companies must have social media policies,
  • they must monitor social media, and
  • they must be able to articulate a concise yet compelling message to an often skeptical audience.

It’s not enough to handle the claim conscientiously.

It’s not enough to handle it in accord with the policy conditions.

It’s not enough to comply with state insurance department regulations.

It’s not enough to believe that you acted in good faith.

If you have an under-insured motorist claim, you must realize that your adjuster will not be perky Flo from the TV commercials.

Insurers Need Social Media Strategy
This case study also spotlights the need for insurance companies to have a refined social media strategy. That goes beyond grappling with questions like, “Should we be on Facebook or Twitter?” or, “Should we have a blog?”

Sorry — those questions are so 2010. That no longer cuts it as a coherent social media strategy.

It’s no longer enough to have a digital footprint in the social media world. The content of what companies put out on social media is vital, scrutinized, and should promote their brand. Content is king.

Moreover, insurance companies must have institutionalized disciplines to monitor what is being said about them on social media so they can respond quickly and persuasively. The consumer conversation about your service and policies is going on — with you or without you. It is best that it goes on with you. It’s best that you have an opportunity to be aware of customer service firestorms brewing so that you have the opportunity to squelch them, address them and nip them in the bud.

You may have to justify your steps in the court of public opinion through social media or suffer the consequences of a public relations black eye if you hunker down and go incommunicado.

As this case study shows, adjusters are sometimes damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

Pay the claim in the face of conflicting evidence, and be second-guessed for poor decision-making by higher-ups. Contest the claim and align yourself with the other driver’s insurance company, and you get criticized in the court of public opinion for callousness.

No one promised adjusters a rose garden and they certainly don’t get to operate in one in the age of viral posts and social media!