The Nature of the ‘Digital’ Insurer

At some future time …

Might a ‘digital’ insurer eventually become a portfolio of capabilities on a chip? Perhaps on a chip in your mobile device? Why not? As long as its operations complied with insurance regulations in every jurisdiction the user of the mobile device purchased and received service for that insurance purchase it sold. (Yes, the chip would still be an insurance firm because it has to comply with insurance regulations.)

Until then, …

But until the ‘digital’ insurer on a chip appears in the marketplace, I have some ideas about the “look-and-feel” of a ‘digital’ insurer that could appear in some more immediate time-frame (say, in the next 10 – 15+ years).

BTW, I’m using the single quote sign around the word ‘digital’ because an insurance firm remains an insurance firm regardless of what mix of technologies it uses to conduct commerce. In no way and in no manner does any technology, or any group of technologies, transform an insurance firm into any kind of technology firm. An insurer, ‘digital’ or not, remains an insurance firm.

[Note that I firmly believe that my idea of a ‘digital insurer’ won’t be able to profitably succeed – or even exist – unless all the stakeholders that interact throughout the ‘digital’ insurer’s value chain are also completely digital with no physical artifacts in their operations.]

The ‘digital’ insurer: No physical artifacts

Overall, my idea about the ‘digital’ insurer is that almost all physical artifacts (things that can be touched by people working for the insurer) are gone and only digital artifacts (see next section) are used to get, service, and keep both customers and producers.

A ‘digital’ insurer will have almost no physical artifacts anywhere to get, service, and keep customers and producers, other than each insurance professional’s choice of mobile phone, computer devices (desktop, laptop, or tablet), and a headset.

That means that an insurance professional in the insurance firm, regardless of functional department – will have:

  • no paper
  • no paper clips
  • no filing cabinets
  • no file folders (for desks or filing cabinets)
  • no interoffice envelopes
  • no fax machines
  • no printers
  • no printer paper
  • no ‘green’ / dot matrix printer paper
  • no desktop calculators
  • no pens or pencils
  • no pads of paper
  • no rulers
  • no trash cans (with the exception of recycling containers for food wrappers / beverage containers)
  • no typewriters
  • no whiteout to correct typed or written mistakes
  • no glue
  • no telephones (other than mobile phones)
  • no Rolodex
  • no business cards
  • no staplers or stapling machines
  • no staples
  • no adhesives (including small stick-on ‘flags’ used to mark pages)
  • no desktop calendars
  • no wall calendars
  • no whiteboards unless their content can be digitally shared
  • no need for an employee to work from the office.

Digital artifacts throughout the insurance firm’s operations

The ‘digital’ insurer will have a plethora of digital artifacts to support insurance professionals in each department, including, but not limited to:

  • software
  • systems
  • analytics
  • models
  • algorithms
  • telecommunications wireless flows and concomitant software for communication and collaboration (within the insurer, between the insurer and the agencies/brokers it uses to reach and serve markets; between the insurer and/or producers and third-party contractors)
  • cloud (private, public [?], hybrid [?] storage and analytics
  • mobile apps
  • interactive visualizations (of maps, of claims, of before & after pictures or of videos of repaired homes or automobiles or corporate facilities).

Housing the digital artifacts

The digital artifacts will be ‘housed’ within Systems of Record (SoR); Systems of Engagement (SoE) including CRM / CX systems, Marketing & Sales systems, and producer productivity systems; Systems of Decision-Making (SoDM) including GIS and geospatial systems; Systems of Finance (SoF); and Systems of Vendor Management including managing third -party claim adjusters, external counsel, property remediation firms, vehicle body shops, and medical providers for rehabilitation.

However, these digital artifacts will not be a digital representation of traditional insurers’ many silos. These digital artifacts will be interdependent, connected, and share data flows.

Data will be the life-blood of a ‘digital’ insurer

Each, and actually all, of the digital artifacts mentioned above will generate, consume, and create data – structured data, unstructured data, and a hybrid of each type of data. All of this data is the life-blood of the ‘digital’ insurer (and of each and every insurance firm before the analogue insurer becomes a ‘digital’ insurer).

The data will flow continually through the digital artifacts (for one reason because the digital artifacts will have to be, of necessity, interdependent and connected). The ‘digital’ insurer will require software to ensure the data is clean, meets the insurer firm’s (consensus) definitions of each data element, and can be used throughout each one of the digital artifacts.

This means that a critical step before an insurer can become a ‘digital’ insurer is that all the data in the insurer’s systems (and files whether analogue or digital) is clean and standardized. It also means that the software the insurer uses to clean and standardize the data it already stores (and shares and uses to expand upon) should be used for new data that flows into the insurance firm’s various digital artifacts.

Orchestrating and riffing off of workflows

Each insurance professional will have to be an orchestrator of the given workflows to accomplish each objective in their functional department while simultaneously behaving like a jazz musician by riffing off of the workflows.

Moreover, insurance professionals will ‘subscribe to and stream from’ the shared data flows to accomplish their specific objectives (i.e. product development, pricing, quoting/rating, underwriting, marketing, customer service, claims adjudication, ceding / assuming reinsurance, …).

The ‘digital’ insurer will have to constantly ensure proper authorizations, security, and privacy issues related to which insurance professionals can access which data flows and which actions in each data flow each insurance professional can initiate.

By riffing behavior, I’m thinking of an expert who knows shortcuts to take, more than one workflow to use to obtain requisite data, and the location of experts to collaborate throughout the day (whether through video, IM, or email).

Both sets of behaviors are required because in the ‘digital’ insurer, the digital artifacts will occasionally change (locations of fields, new fields added, existing fields deleted) throughout the artifact’s updating and re-versioning.

In a ‘digital’ insurer, each insurance professional will have to be a fluid multi-tasker as well as an expert in one, and possible two or three, functional areas. (Being an expert underwriter – or claims manager or marketer or sales manager – will not be sufficient to succeed in the ‘digital’ insurer.)

A lot going on in the ‘digital’ insurer

I’ve barely touched the nature of and behaviors within a ‘digital’ insurer. There are many issues to discuss.

One such issue is creating a gradient that segments totally physical artifact-laded insurers to a hybrid physical / digital artifact insurer to a totally ‘digital’ insurer. Attendant to the segmentation are the steps that insurers should take to move from where they are to becoming a ‘digital’ insurer.

Expect more posts to come discussing these and other issues related to being and behaving as a ‘digital’ insurer.

Comments? Thoughts?

2 thoughts on “The Nature of the ‘Digital’ Insurer”

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