If the role of technology in business sustainability across sectors is still questioned, the recent report from Marketforce, titled “The Future of General Insurance 2016”, sums it all up. And although the survey is for the Insurance sector, the conclusions have a much broader application.
According to the report, 80% of the respondents believe that ‘digitally-enabled new entrants will gain market share through differentiation on factors other than price’. Haven’t we seen this already materialising in the Banking sector? And yet more than half of the organisations still don’t invest in developing innovation skills, with the number one obstacle being the existing massive estates of legacy systems that in turn support the sustenance of information silos. And while large, established organisations still struggle to put together a viable strategy in addressing these issues, more agile start-ups begin to claim their share.
To make things worse, increasing regulatory demands put more pressure on organisations and although some hope that Brexit might lead to a more flexible regulatory environment, the general consensus is that it is unlikely to see significant changes. In most cases, the only way to address and manage the different mandates and regulations is through the use of technology and innovation. For some, these terms go hand-in-hand with the fear of the unknown; if however their existing technology is becoming obsolete and information is siloed and/or vulnerable, then they face an even greater and way more costly fear –the fear of exposure.
But data integrity and compliance are not the only areas where technology underlines the survival of the fittest. Consumers’ behaviour and the way they interact with companies has changed drastically in the last decade, leading innovation in their own way. Customisation is rapidly turning into individualisation and with all this information accumulated in the back end systems, it shouldn’t be difficult to achieve –should it? A point to be made is that those companies that have mastered the art of exploiting their data will win the hearts of individuals and businesses alike. Business Intelligence and Analytics tools that are able to capture, analyse and give meaning to data across the different touchpoints of the business should be at the centre of business development, marketing and customer services. Remember, if you don’t talk to your customer about their needs and wants, someone else will!
Another point that is apparent, is that agility can be a key differentiator. Those companies that are able to respond quickly and effectively to industry and market changes, will get the biggest piece of the action. In achieving agility, automation can help particularly those organisations that are process-heavy. A major benefit of automation besides the obvious, is that it will force companies to rethink their processes –a necessary step if you are to implement a process automation solution. According to the survey, representatives from the Insurance industry expect the implementation of automation solutions to triple in the next 5-10 years. I think that this is too late. Artificial Intelligence and Robotic Process Automation solutions are already being tested and deployed by public and private organisations, so now is the best time to start!
For most of the older and bigger organisations, this technological innovation journey will be a transformational overhaul. And it won’t come cheap. But the cost of not taking it will be even bigger and might mean the viability of an organisation. Planning, process re-engineering and technological innovation is the only way forward if Insurance companies (and not only) want to survive in this rapidly changing and highly competitive landscape.