While insurance industry has made significant strides in terms of innovating and adopting next-generation technologies, organizations aren't necessarily ready to embrace the disruptive effects of these technologies. Insurance CIOs can take the lead in integrating technologies with the insurance business -- becoming a "postdigital catalyst" in the parlance of Deloitte's recent Insurance Tech Trends report.
Deloitte Consulting director Andrew Goldberg says the issue is nothing short of existential for insurance CIOs and their companies.
"Insurers have lots of data now, but how do they maximize the process of using it? Companies are going to become very successful by how they leverage technologies, not simply if they have them," he says. "The CIO is going to become the catalyst for change and orchestrate that journey."
Deloitte's report contends that "five macro forces – analytics, mobile, social, cloud, and cyber – are hard at work enabling and disrupting organizations of many shapes and sizes." Mobile, for example, has "destroyed constraints based on physical location," the company says. "Users now expect that the power of the enterprise should be available at the point where decisions are made and where business is transacted – no matter where that is."
In insurance, this is already becoming apparent, Goldberg notes. "Who would have ever thought that, in the claims process, insurers would have the customers take photos themselves instead of having the adjusters come out?" he asks. "Mobile has become a platform people are all shifting to. It used to be that everyone was building for desktops -- now, we've solved web services."
But underpinning a lot of this innovation has to be in using data and analytics, Goldberg adds. Many insurers are "data rich, information poor, and knowledge starved," he says. The time has come to stop depending on computers to "crunch and digitalize lots of information" and find the best people to interpret the data presented to them.
"We're still asking basic questions like 'what's my call center call volume?' instead of doing voice analysis on sentiment and things like that, " he continues. "We think the CIO can help catch up and bridge the chasm between knowledge and action."
At the same time, insurers are competing with companies across industries for the best data scientists, Goldberg concedes. But savvy management can mitigate that difficulty.
"The draw you see at Google and others is that they're much more hip -- can insurers change the way that they approach work?" he asks. "The stuff we're doing is cool -- there's a direct line of sight to the customer and the benefit we provide. As this transformation starts to happen with postdigital, the idea that it's a stuffy insurance company will begin to fade."
Nathan Golia is senior editor of Insurance & Technology. He joined the publication in 2010 as associate editor and covers all aspects of the nexus between insurance and information technology, including mobility, distribution, core systems, customer interaction, and risk ... View Full Bio