The statistics that continue to pour out of social business and related technologies are mind-numbing: Average number of tweets per day in March 2010: 50 million, in March 2011: 150 million. New users are losing interest in old media and turning to social media for news: Facebook has over 500 million users, spending 700 billion minutes per month on the site. eMarketer continues to remind us that advertising revenues are shifting away from traditional to new media (see accompanying chart).
So what are insurers, agents, and brokers to do? The experts say: Get used to it.
At the ACORD Conference, New York Times columnist Nick Bilton notes that users are driving both technologies and news sources to become ‘hyperpersonalized’. One size does not fit all, or even any when it comes to computer screens (they will be flexible and could be a wrist band), or news papers (again, flexible), and likely fed by an individual’s personal collection of blogs, twitter feeds, and links to friends’ Facebook pages. Bilton also suggests that gaming is developing a skill that new users must master: intelligent multitasking. He suggests that new research is showing that multitasking dissimilar activities is counterproductive, but similar activities (watching the news and blogging about it)can be complementary, as the brain can learn ‘sequencing’.
In regards insurance specifically, several speakers noted the importance of social media and predictive analytics for success in current and future market conditions. Craig Beattie and Michael Fitzgerald from Celent’s Insurance Practice laid out frameworks for dealing with the high volume and unstructured nature of data emanating from the multiple sources of new data. This will allow more precise underwriting if handled correctly. The key is deploying intelligent technology to manage the flow.
In addition, the Celent speakers noted that courts are acting responsibly in recognizing that these new media can be used legitimately for investigations (in the case of underwriting and claims) as long as traditional principles of professional practice are followed.
The one cautionary note that many speakers put forward is that there is no end in site to the rate of increase in data. Bilton summed this up well, noting that new generation users don’t want to be passive recipients of news, they wan to publish as well, adding to the value, and to the volume content.