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Accountability Review: 2012 Trend Predictions

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Back in the dark and early days of 2012, we spotted four trends and one megatrend that we saw impacting the Insurance-Technology activity for the year.  As the year closes, we want to give ourselves marks for accuracy.  We will tell you honestly what we think and would like to invite you to leave your own comments (and grades) below.

Trend: Social Media Becoming Social Business …. Grade: C+

We predicted an increasing number of brokers and insurers would integrate social into operations, initially to support marketing and sales,  going beyond, to use social data to support underwriting, claims, and risk management.

The marketing and sales activity is increasing, and we know of many insurers who are incorporating social into the claims examination process.  Underwriting, not so much.

What we missed – big time – was the rising tide of consumer expectations regarding on-line services – including social (see Consumer Loyalty & On-Line Services. Survey Says: Build It or They Will Go).  We missed it, but carriers and agents/brokers did not, some of whom rely heavily on social for sales, marketing, and service (see How Do Cool Agents Do Social Media?)

Trend: Increased Penetration of Mobile and Telematics… Grade: B-

We agreed with several analysts that increasingly functional mobile devices would begin to displace move fixed devices.  We see this in the pressure to support employees bringing their own smart phones, tablets, etc. to use in addition to or in lieu of corporate issued devices (see Several Dimensions of Theory Vs. Reality For BYOD).

Again, however, we missed on the consumer side.  Seems that consumers are getting used to any-time, anywhere, any device access to products and services, including insurance.  Insurers and distributors are working to catch up with banks, among others (see Mobile Usage & Sophistication Rising; Banks Are Taking Positions; What is Your Strategy?), and some are creatively mixing social/mobile with bricks and mortar  (see How Do You Take Your Coffee? Socially, With a Little Insurance and Technology).

In respect to Telematics, we felt that movements in Europe and the US would stimulate interest in Canada, and several insurers would begin development,  While only one new Canadian insurer – Industrial Alliance – announced a telematics based automobile insurance scheme this year, there is a loud buzz of activity behind the scenes.

Trend: Broker-Carrier Connectivity Debate Increases … Grade: A

We projected that there would be increased debate around broker connectivity.  We think we got this one bang on.

At the 2012 Insurance-Canada.ca Technology Awards (ICTAs), three of the nine finalists represented broker/carrier connectivity initiatives.  Throughout the year, there have been major announcements  regarding new functionality (real time policy change, eDocs, etc.) and  support for organizations dedicated to broker connectivity (ORBiT, CSIO, etc.)

So, we think it’s fair to say that there has been increased discussion about this topic.  The challenge is to get a sense for market impact.  As there are no standard ways to measure implementations, much less, ROI, we think the jury stays out on this.

Trend: Modern Technology Becomes a Firm Foundation… Grade: A

We suggested that the insurer replacement of legacy systems in favour of ‘modern’ technology was no longer an option, and had become table stakes.  The number of announcements by insurers of policy and claims administration packages this year is testimony that we managed to nail this trend as well.

The continuing outstanding question is what the insurance industry will do with these new platforms (see Innovation and IT: Are We Planning for Failure?)?

Megatrend:  Data & Analytics As Critical Success Factors … Grade: B

We said there was a trend that encompassed the others which is becoming a critical success factor for insurers and brokers.  This was the rise of the importance of data and the criticality  of using sophisticated methods and systems to incorporate the wisdom of the information into strategic and operational decisions.

On this, we think we were right that data and analytics are becoming priorities in  boardrooms and executive planning sessions.  What we are not seeing (generally, there are exceptions) are serious conversations about embedding the knowledge into processes at all levels.  We are actually seeing a tendency to satisfy requirements by putting separate ‘business intelligence’ engines in place which aggregate information, and supply sophisticated dashboards to executives, but fail to put the information into an operational construct.

In our view, the jury is still out on this.  We’ll look forward to more detailed look at this in 2013.

Your Thoughts?

So we think we are due a solid B.  We recognize our biggest misses have been on the consumer side. We’ll take that to heart.

But we’d like your thoughts.  Please share them with us below.  Don’t hold back…. We can take it.

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