The human touch will become increasingly important for the sale of long-term investment and insurance products, according to Deloitte Consulting's ranking of the top 10 global insurance trends for 2002.
But before carriers with tight technology budgets breathe a sigh of relief, another trend they will be expected to accommodate will be investors' and consumers' demand for access to financial and portfolio information in real time. Building such a "glass" firm will require, according to Deloitte, "a complete overhaul of IT infrastructures and business processes."
Although the increase in the human-touch element runs counter to the conventional wisdom of recent years, notes Michael LaPorta, global director, insurance practice, Deloitte Consulting, "Consumers have shown they value human interaction in consummating their insurance transactions." And though there is a segment of buyers who prefer to do business on the Web, "it is not large enough to sustain an entire business," he says. "I see the Internet's role as connecting the product manufacturer with a variety of higher-touch channels."
Although human touch will be key in consumer buying decisions, a large number of consumers will expect to enter a portal and access their portfolio information in real time, says LaPorta. Offering this service is a large undertaking, and "2002 will be a tough year for IT departments," concedes LaPorta. "I have spoken to a number of CIOs and they have a lot on their plate, and often fewer resourceslower budgetsavailable to accomplish their mission."
Companies may, however, gain a technology edge through mergers and acquisitions. Deloitte predicts that companies may merge and acquire, not just to achieve size, "but rather to build special competencies in specific areas of the value chain."