Digitization - New Focal Point of Every Sector
By Mohan Shetty, AVP & Head - IT Infra & Operations, Birla Sun Life Insurance
The digital trend has disrupted almost every sector, including Insurance. Digital-driven changes are taking place across value chain of insurance. As insurers search for ways to grow profitably, they have a unique opportunity to embrace and benefit from the digital wave. The impact of digital innovation will drive new regulation, placing additional pressure on insurance organizations to efficiently meet these regulatory requirements.
The internet’s influence on purchase decisions is significantly higher. Online term life plans and travel insurance have already picked up substantially in the last few years. Though better pricing is a key reason for buying online, convenience and increased transparency are also the critical factors. The impact of digital will be felt well beyond the online sales. It is estimated that, by 2020, three in every four insurance policies would be influenced by digital channels during either the pre-purchase stage, purchase or renewal stages.
Trends that influence digital adaption:
- Lower data storage costs: Ability to undertake and centralize data collection across multiple heterogeneous sources; Supporting improved big data management.
- Increased data processing capability: Open source frameworks for storage and processing allow for scalability, to get maximum useful computation at a low cost.
- Augmented capabilities for pattern recognition: Big data access and analytical tools allow for analysis of data points not as disparate entities, but in context. They make it possible to bring together various sources of data to identify patterns and create stories that can be commercially useful.
- Need of 360-degree digital customer relationship management: Modern insurance call centers must have a seamless, real-time, 360 degree view of social media engagement, mobile application interaction, and geo-awareness from IoT sensors. This is possible only through modernized integrated infrastructure with up-to-date web API, cloud-based services, IoT aware connectivity, etc.
- Driverless cars pose new forms of risk: Risk management will not be the same in the digital era, not only in terms of forecasting risk, but also in managing and mitigating risk in real-time.
For ex., if an automated driver feature in your car causes an accident, who is at fault? The digital insurance company must invest in capturing these new forms of data and in data science to analyze it for forensics, patterns, and predictive actions to decide how to respond to these regulatory pressures.
These disruptive themes are challenging the traditional insurance business model:
1. Physical footprint much less relevant today
Retail success no longer depends exclusively on an established network of brick and mortar stores. The modern consumer values convenience and value for money above everything else. Success on the digital platform can be attributed to a well thought out strategy and a business model specific to the medium.>p "Success on the digital platform can be attributed to a well thought out strategy and a business model specific to the medium."2. Big Data and analytics break entry barriers
The relatively lower cost of leveraging digital technology compared to physical presence, combined with customer acceptance of new products and brands, is breaking down the barriers to entry across industries. Big data is now a competitive advantage.3. New platforms making company interactions more ‘social’
Insurers are using both mobile and social media to respond to and engage with customers in unique ways. These platforms not only improve sales but also increase customer engagement and improve operational efficiency.
4. Mobile Internet driving customer engagement
A large number of insurers have created mobile applications to improve customer services and/ or increase sales.
The IT in the insurance industry is ramping up to be ready for the digital revolution:
- Building up the right expertise: Identifying and developing new skills, deciding on the right internal and external talent balance and robust training programs.
- Integrated channels and single customer view: Customers should be able to choose any channel or combination of channels such as call centre, mobile phone/apps, social media, that best suit their needs.
- Analytics team: An analytics team, which mines customer data for insights that inform marketing, proposition development, pricing, as well as claims, needs to be the core element of each model.
- Improve customer–centricity
- Provide a single customer view
- Provide consistent and ‘real–time’ information of all interactions across channels like chat, call back, etc.
- Ensure seamless cross-channel acquisition processes reducing leakages during the purchase process when customers switch channels
- Consolidate vision of customer behavior and profitability across all channels
- Create a device/platform—independent experience: All web-content must be specifically optimized for use by different operating systems and devices. Customers operate multiple devices in many cases across platforms and expect the same ease of access and usage.
- Digital listening—engages consumers effectively: From pre-purchase to engaging after the purchase, social media can be used to get involved with the buyer at every step of the purchase funnel.