The insurance industry is facing the need for digital transformation. Insurers have been slow to adapt but they still have time to make necessary changes. Many insurers have deep resources, strong balance sheets, enormous scale, vast quantities of data and rigorous process discipline - all assets that can help them connect with customers in a new digital environment.
The 2014 edition of the Accenture Technology Vision highlighted six IT trends that will have a transformative effect on businesses during the next three to five years. Insurers in Asia need to embrace these trends now.
Trend 1: Digital-physical blur
The "real world" is coming online as smart objects, devices and machines increase our insight into - and control over - the physical world. Consider how China has already embraced the Internet of Things, with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao identified IoT as an "emerging strategic industry" in an interview on state media - and indeed the Ministry of Information and Technology estimates China's IoT market will reach Rmb500 billion ($80.3 billion) by 2015, then double to Rmb1 trillion ($166 billion) by 2020.But the digital-physical blur will quickly push the boundaries even beyond the IoT; it is a new layer of connected intelligence that supports employees, automates processes, and incorporates machines into our lives.
Intelligent interfaces such as wearable computing, home sensors, and vehicle telematics are blurring the physical and the digital world. Many of these cutting edge devices are being developed, launched and embraced most notably in markets such as Japan and Korea. They are expanding rapidly in number and dropping just as quickly in price - take advantage of the cloud to share data with other "edge" devices. They can sense environmental variables and feed analytics engines and visualizations so that organizations can make smarter decisions in real time.
During the next five years, intelligent edge devices will bring massive disruption to the insurance industry. Digital-physical blur promises to transform the industry by giving insurers usage and contextual data they can use to refine risk, redefine products and transform customer relationships.
Trend 2: From Workforce to Crowdsource
The future workforce will extend beyond employees to any user connected to the Internet. Cloud, social and collaboration tools and technologies now allow insurers to tap into vast pools of human resources around the world.
Digital collaboration technologies are no longer just about enabling insurers to collaborate more effectively within the boundaries of their own enterprise; they now involve connecting insurers to smart, enthusiastic people in the outside world who have the interest, motivation, time and expertise to work with insurers to solve some of their most daunting business challenges. Few insurers, however, have grasped the idea of accessing a truly liquid workforce - pools of premier talent gathered in virtual communities and coalescing around specific business problems. This expanded workforce offers expertise that may not be available in-house, and it offers scale that can be leveraged to solve problems that may be too large or expensive to solve internally.
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