Digital Insurance: Partnering For The Game Of Life

Kai Görlich and Christian Jaerschke

Digitalization is a threat – and an opportunity – for one of our oldest industries. As the insurance industry faces upstart competitors and challenging economics, they must reinvent their businesses to survive.

Life is inherently risky. It’s only natural that human beings invented insurance to help mitigate some of the disastrous losses that we were bound to encounter. The earliest insurance contracts were marine policies written in Genoa, Italy, in 1347. The first known company that sold insurance to the public was Hamburger Feuerkasse (still in business today), which was established in 1676 to provide fire insurance. The insurance industry grew right along with the industrialization of the world. Today, we can insure the most important areas of our lives: health, wealth, employment, and property to name just a few.

Insurance companies have taken steps to eliminate risks over the years. Some were instrumental in demanding innovations such as fire hydrants and building sprinkler systems and, in many cases, require them before underwriting a given risk. However, the focus for the last several centuries has still been on responding to loss rather than preventing it.

But the insurance industry is on the verge of a fundamental shift – driven by increased digitization, more advanced analytics capabilities, and disruptive threats from new entrants and business models. Insurance companies are not only facing rising costs, intense competition, a challenging regulatory environment, and increasing customer expectations. But they also have the opportunity to harness technology and data in novel ways to create entirely new business models that proactively manage – and even eliminate – risks for customers.

From threat to opportunity

The insurance industry is under pressure, but it also has access to a number of technologies that could enable better customer service and expand their businesses beyond traditional offerings. Advancements in computing are helping companies in all industries transform Big Data into actionable insights. And the universe of available data is expanding every day thanks to increasingly cost-effective sensors, wearable computing options, and other technologies capable of providing a stream of ambient intelligence about the world.

The number of Internet-connected devices and sensors (14.8 billion as of February) will grow to 50 billion by 2020, according to Cisco. And Intel predicts that there will be 200 billion Internet-connected things in 2030. But that is not all that will impact the industry over the coming years:

  • The speed of analytics will intensify thirty-fold by 2030, with 95% of queries answered in mere milliseconds, according to SAP estimates.
  • By 2020, the digital data universe will grow to 44 zettabytes, and brings the potential to be analyzed and used to generate insight will grow from 22% to 37%, according to EMC and IDC.

The industry can harness these technologies not only to improve internal operations and productivity, but also expand their revenue-generating opportunities and improve the customer experience. While insurers are already harnessing automation to improve efficiency and experimenting with new business models in the areas of product development (micro-insurance) distribution (Web and mobile) and pricing (micro-segmentation), more dramatic shifts are ahead. According to Prof. Professor Dr. Fred Wagner from the Institut für Versicherungslehre in Leipzig, Germany, the future of insurance is not just insurance but has to be expanded beyond risk and investments.

Lessons from the outside

Insurance companies must disrupt themselves before they are disrupted  – embracing innovation in the areas of customer experience, product and service development, and risk management. And some promising new entrants are already beginning to shake up the industry.

  • New York-based Lemonade, with investors including Aleph and Sequoia Capital, wants to become the world’s first peer-to-peer property and casualty insurance provider. The company recently hired a chief behavioral officer who previously worked with Intuit to motivate people to save more and Intel on worker productivity.
  • Sure, launched in 2014, is a so-called episodic insurance company that will offer on-demand accident, life, property, casualty, and warranty policies. Its first product is flight insurance that travelers can purchase up to the time they take off that ends when they land. The company’s app also features analytics called Robo-Broker, which uses information about customer behavior to recommend products.
  • Trov, another mobile on-demand insurance platform that offers insurance for specific products (a new racing bike or digital camera) for a specific amount of time, is currently available in Australia with plans to launch in the U.S. in 2017.
  • Canopy Health Insurance says it offers consumers simpler, cheaper healthcare coverage by featuring just five individual plans and a smaller network of core providers.
  • Zoom+, which began as a chain of retail healthcare clinics in the Pacific Northwest, recently expanded into an integrated healthcare delivery system with on-demand insurance options aimed at tech- and health-savvy consumers. Its digital platform offers online scheduling, paying, and access to results for X-ray, ultrasound, and CT scans and its newest primary care clinics aimed at optimizing human performance using food, movement, and relationship as medicine. It also offers in-person assessments and labs with a board-certified naturopathic physician and ongoing medical coaching through video and e-mail.

Insurance companies face significant indirect competition as well. Customer expectations are influenced by their experiences in other areas and with companies in other industries such as Amazon, Facebook, and Apple. They want frictionless, personalized, and relevant experiences.

However, insurers can adopt best practices from other industries. Take the automotive industry, for example. Customers can configure the cars they choose to buy, making it easy for the prospect to purchase a complex, customized product. Insurers also have the opportunity to do the same with products to manage new and complex risks. They can take a page from retailers’ approaches to omnichannel management. Like companies in the travel and hospitality industries, insurers can explore compelling offerings and pricing as well as loyalty program management. They can apply banking approach to personal finance management and offer insurance customers personal risk management services. According to Prof. Wagner, insurers should follow the innovation strategies from other industries and build their own innovation frameworks with partners from different industries to create new ideas and business models outside the classical insurance business.

Smart insurance: building richer customer relationships

Moreover, insurance companies can expand beyond traditional products and interactions and become a more involved – and more positive – presence in their customers’ lives and, in the process, redefine their business models.

In the traditional insurance paradigm, insurers interact with their customers less than 1% of the time – when the product is purchased and a claim is submitted. These companies are missing opportunities to build better relationships with customers during the other 99% of the time and to sell them value-added products and services. By increasing the customer touch points, they can also shift the focus from paying for a loss, which is a process that can often be complex and frustrating for customers, to helping customers live better lives.

Using more detailed data, insurance companies can remind customers on their smartphones that it’s time, for example, to service their vehicle or suggest ski insurance for a customer who often hits the slopes. Companies can offer digitally enabled premium services such as financial coaching or retirement planning. They can partner with other companies to offer discounted products and services, including all-weather tires or fitness trackers, that will ultimately improve their customers risk profiles. They can use data and analytics to improve their core insurance offerings to deliver context-based offers that are relevant to customers, simpler insurance products, and smarter pricing. The emerging sensor ecosystem opens up opportunities for new “pay-as-you-drive” (usage-based) or “pay-how-you-live” (outcome-based) pricing strategies that consumers demand. Insurers can also explore entirely new insurance product categories, such as peer-to-peer insurance.

Progressive was an early leader in the usage-based auto insurance space offering the opportunity to receive discounts based on their driving habits by delivering data through a telematics device installed in a consumer’s car. Late last year, the company announced it was developing a mobile app to automatically monitor and measure drivers’ data – such as time of day, mileage, and hard braking – to earn discounts without the connected device. At the end of each trip, the mobile app will give drivers personalized information, including a star-based rating, a data summary, a map of their drive, and tailored driving tips, to help improve their score. There is growing interest in the use of dashboard cameras to gather accident data and encourage safer driving.

State Farm Insurance has partnered with ADT offers homeowners discounts on smart home security and monitoring systems that help measure in-home risk. Aviva Ventures, the venture capital arm of the UK insurer, invested in Cocoon, maker of an internet-connected home security device. AXA is partnering with Samsung on the development of a secured connected car ecosystem that will encourage safer driving and help consumers get access to better insurance rates.

American International Group Inc. (AIG) announced it is investing in an early stage startup developing advanced analytics and wearable devices to improve worker safety. The $58 billion insurance company invested in a startup called Human Condition Safety, which is using artificial intelligence and data modeling to help workers, their managers, and worksite owners prevent injuries in some of the highest risk settings such as manufacturing, energy, warehousing and distribution, and construction. The system correlates data from a worksite environment with historical data on workplace incidents and determines how best to prevent injuries before they happen. Workplace accidents kill one person and injure 153 others every 15 seconds. Instead of simply providing benefits to clients after these tragedies occur, AIG is looking to cognitive computing to partner with its customer to reduce those risks as well.

FItsense is a Singapore-based startup building a data analytics platform aimed at helping data insurance companies personalize life and health insurance for customers with wearables. By taking the data from a user’s wearable (like Fitbit or Jawbone), insurance providers can make more accurate risk perditions based on actual data and reward users who live healthier lifestyles with lower insurances costs and premiums.

Your new life coach

Successful insurance providers will move beyond underwriting and loss management to become life partners for their consumers – using data, technology, and strategic partnerships to provide simple, friendly, personal, relevant, and holistic products and services.

Using real-time analytics and risk assessment, companies could provide fully customized insurance based on individual use charged by the hour and activity and click. Insurance products might include service add-ons from partners aimed at reducing risk. The financial and claims management aspects of the business will be largely automated or outsourced, taking a back-seat to value-added, customer-facing interactions. The future will be focused less on paying for loss than preventing it, which will result in closer and potentially more valuable customer relationships.

Just as the first insurance carriers transformed the risks of the shipping industry or wood homes into viable marine and fire insurance businesses centuries ago, insurance companies today have the power to turn disruption risk into an opportunity for more expansive, profitable, and customer-centric business models. With this approach, the can work closely with partners and technology innovators to help their customers better manage life’s complexities.

Download the executive brief A New Paradigm for the Insurance Industry.


To learn more about how exponential technology will affect business and life, see Digital Futures in the Digitalist Magazine.


Data Analysts And Scientists More Important Than Ever For The Enterprise

Daniel Newman

The business world is now firmly in the age of data. Not that data wasn’t relevant before; it was just nowhere close to the speed and volume that’s available to us today. Businesses are buckling under the deluge of petabytes, exabytes, and zettabytes. Within these bytes lie valuable information on customer behavior, key business insights, and revenue generation. However, all that data is practically useless for businesses without the ability to identify the right data. Plus, if they don’t have the talent and resources to capture the right data, organize it, dissect it, draw actionable insights from it and, finally, deliver those insights in a meaningful way, their data initiatives will fail.

Rise of the CDO

Companies of all sizes can easily find themselves drowning in data generated from websites, landing pages, social streams, emails, text messages, and many other sources. Additionally, there is data in their own repositories. With so much data at their disposal, companies are under mounting pressure to utilize it to generate insights. These insights are critical because they can (and should) drive the overall business strategy and help companies make better business decisions. To leverage the power of data analytics, businesses need more “top-management muscle” specialized in the field of data science. This specialized field has lead to the creation of roles like Chief Data Officer (CDO).

In addition, with more companies undertaking digital transformations, there’s greater impetus for the C-suite to make data-driven decisions. The CDO helps make data-driven decisions and also develops a digital business strategy around those decisions. As data grows at an unstoppable rate, becoming an inseparable part of key business functions, we will see the CDO act as a bridge between other C-suite execs.

Data skills an emerging business necessity

So far, only large enterprises with bigger data mining and management needs maintain in-house solutions. These in-house teams and technologies handle the growing sets of diverse and dispersed data. Others work with third-party service providers to develop and execute their big data strategies.

As the amount of data grows, the need to mine it for insights becomes a key business requirement. For both large and small businesses, data-centric roles will experience endless upward mobility. These roles include data anlysts and scientists. There is going to be a huge opportunity for critical thinkers to turn their analytical skills into rapidly growing roles in the field of data science. In fact, data skills are now a prized qualification for titles like IT project managers and computer systems analysts.

Forbes cited the McKinsey Global Institute’s prediction that by 2018 there could be a massive shortage of data-skilled professionals. This indicates a disruption at the demand-supply level with the needs for data skills at an all-time high. With an increasing number of companies adopting big data strategies, salaries for data jobs are going through the roof. This is turning the position into a highly coveted one.

According to Harvard Professor Gary King, “There is a big data revolution. The big data revolution is that now we can do something with the data.” The big problem is that most enterprises don’t know what to do with data. Data professionals are helping businesses figure that out. So if you’re casting about for where to apply your skills and want to take advantage of one of the best career paths in the job market today, focus on data science.

I’m compensated by University of Phoenix for this blog. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

For more insight on our increasingly connected future, see The $19 Trillion Question: Are You Undervaluing The Internet Of Things?

The post Data Analysts and Scientists More Important Than Ever For the Enterprise appeared first on Millennial CEO.


About Daniel Newman

Daniel Newman serves as the Co-Founder and CEO of EC3, a quickly growing hosted IT and Communication service provider. Prior to this role Daniel has held several prominent leadership roles including serving as CEO of United Visual. Parent company to United Visual Systems, United Visual Productions, and United GlobalComm; a family of companies focused on Visual Communications and Audio Visual Technologies.
Daniel is also widely published and active in the Social Media Community. He is the Author of Amazon Best Selling Business Book “The Millennial CEO.” Daniel also Co-Founded the Global online Community 12 Most and was recognized by the Huffington Post as one of the 100 Business and Leadership Accounts to Follow on Twitter.
Newman is an Adjunct Professor of Management at North Central College. He attained his undergraduate degree in Marketing at Northern Illinois University and an Executive MBA from North Central College in Naperville, IL. Newman currently resides in Aurora, Illinois with his wife (Lisa) and his two daughters (Hailey 9, Avery 5).
A Chicago native all of his life, Newman is an avid golfer, a fitness fan, and a classically trained pianist

When Good Is Good Enough: Guiding Business Users On BI Practices

Ina Felsheim

Image_part2-300x200In Part One of this blog series, I talked about changing your IT culture to better support self-service BI and data discovery. Absolutely essential. However, your work is not done!

Self-service BI and data discovery will drive the number of users using the BI solutions to rapidly expand. Yet all of these more casual users will not be well versed in BI and visualization best practices.

When your user base rapidly expands to more casual users, you need to help educate them on what is important. For example, one IT manager told me that his casual BI users were making visualizations with very difficult-to-read charts and customizing color palettes to incredible degrees.

I had a similar experience when I was a technical writer. One of our lead writers was so concerned with readability of every sentence that he was going through the 300+ page manuals (yes, they were printed then) and manually adjusting all of the line breaks and page breaks. (!) Yes, readability was incrementally improved. But now any number of changes–technical capabilities, edits, inserting larger graphics—required re-adjusting all of those manual “optimizations.” The time it took just to do the additional optimization was incredible, much less the maintenance of these optimizations! Meanwhile, the technical writing team was falling behind on new deliverables.

The same scenario applies to your new casual BI users. This new group needs guidance to help them focus on the highest value practices:

  • Customization of color and appearance of visualizations: When is this customization necessary for a management deliverable, versus indulging an OCD tendency? I too have to stop myself from obsessing about the font, line spacing, and that a certain blue is just a bit different than another shade of blue. Yes, these options do matter. But help these casual users determine when that time is well spent.
  • Proper visualizations: When is a spinning 3D pie chart necessary to grab someone’s attention? BI professionals would firmly say “NEVER!” But these casual users do not have a lot of depth on BI best practices. Give them a few simple guidelines as to when “flash” needs to subsume understanding. Consider offering a monthly one-hour Lunch and Learn that shows them how to create impactful, polished visuals. Understanding if their visualizations are going to be viewed casually on the way to a meeting, or dissected at a laptop, also helps determine how much time to spend optimizing a visualization. No, you can’t just mandate that they all read Tufte.
  • Predictive: Provide advanced analytics capabilities like forecasting and regression directly in their casual BI tools. Using these capabilities will really help them wow their audience with substance instead of flash.
  • Feature requests: Make sure you understand the motivation and business value behind some of the casual users’ requests. These casual users are less likely to understand the implications of supporting specific requests across an enterprise, so make sure you are collaborating on use cases and priorities for substantive requests.

By working with your casual BI users on the above points, you will be able to collectively understand when the absolute exact request is critical (and supports good visualization practices), and when it is an “optimization” that may impact productivity. In many cases, “good” is good enough for the fast turnaround of data discovery.

Next week, I’ll wrap this series up with hints on getting your casual users to embrace the “we” not “me” mentality.

Read Part One of this series: Changing The IT Culture For Self-Service BI Success.

Follow me on Twitter: @InaSAP


Human Skills for the Digital Future

Dan Wellers and Kai Goerlich

Technology Evolves.
So Must We.

Technology replacing human effort is as old as the first stone axe, and so is the disruption it creates.
Thanks to deep learning and other advances in AI, machine learning is catching up to the human mind faster than expected.
How do we maintain our value in a world in which AI can perform many high-value tasks?

Uniquely Human Abilities

AI is excellent at automating routine knowledge work and generating new insights from existing data — but humans know what they don’t know.

We’re driven to explore, try new and risky things, and make a difference.
We deduce the existence of information we don’t yet know about.
We imagine radical new business models, products, and opportunities.
We have creativity, imagination, humor, ethics, persistence, and critical thinking.

There’s Nothing Soft About “Soft Skills”

To stay ahead of AI in an increasingly automated world, we need to start cultivating our most human abilities on a societal level. There’s nothing soft about these skills, and we can’t afford to leave them to chance.

We must revamp how and what we teach to nurture the critical skills of passion, curiosity, imagination, creativity, critical thinking, and persistence. In the era of AI, no one will be able to thrive without these abilities, and most people will need help acquiring and improving them.

Anything artificial intelligence does has to fit into a human-centered value system that takes our unique abilities into account. While we help AI get more powerful, we need to get better at being human.

Download the executive brief Human Skills for the Digital Future.

Read the full article The Human Factor in an AI Future.


About Dan Wellers

Dan Wellers is founder and leader of Digital Futures at SAP, a strategic insights and thought leadership discipline that explores how digital technologies drive exponential change in business and society.

Kai Goerlich

About Kai Goerlich

Kai Goerlich is the Chief Futurist at SAP Innovation Center network His specialties include Competitive Intelligence, Market Intelligence, Corporate Foresight, Trends, Futuring and ideation.

Share your thoughts with Kai on Twitter @KaiGoe.heif Futu


Finance And HR: Friends Or Foes? Shifting To A Collaborative Mindset

Richard McLean

Part 1 in the 3-part “Finance and HR Collaboration” series

In my last blog, I challenged you to think of collaboration as the next killer app, citing a recent study by Oxford Economics sponsored by SAP. The study clearly explains how corporate performance improves when finance actively engages in collaboration with other business functions.

As a case in point, consider finance and HR. Both are being called on to work more collaboratively with each other – and the broader business – to help achieve a shared vision for the company. In most organizations, both have undergone a transformation to extend beyond operational tasks and adopt a more strategic focus, opening the door to more collaboration. As such, both have assumed three very important roles in the company – business partner, change agent, and steward. In this post, I’ll illustrate how collaboration can enable HR and finance to be more effective business partners.

Making the transition to focus on broader business objectives

My colleague Renata Janini Dohmen, senior vice president of HR for SAP Asia Pacific Japan, credits a changing mindset for both finance and HR as key to enabling the transition away from our traditional roles to be more collaborative. She says, “For a long time, people in HR and finance were seen as opponents. HR was focused on employees and how to motivate, encourage, and cheer on the workforce. Finance looked at the numbers and was a lot more cautious and possibly more skeptical in terms of making an investment. Today, both areas have made the transition to take on a more holistic perspective. We are pursuing strategies and approaching decisions based on what delivers the best return on investment for the company’s assets, whether those assets are monetary or non-monetary. This mindset shift plays a key role in how finance and HR execute the strategic imperatives of the company,” she notes.

Viewing joint decisions from a completely different lens

I agree with Renata. This mindset change has certainly impacted the way I make decisions. If I’m just focused on controlling costs and assessing expenditures, I’ll evaluate programs and ideas quite differently than if I’m thinking about the big picture.

For example, there’s an HR manager in our organization who runs Compensation and Benefits. She approaches me regularly with great ideas. But those ideas cost money. In the past, I was probably more inclined to look at those conversations from a tactical perspective. It was easy for me to simply say, “No, we can’t afford it.”

Now I look at her ideas from a more strategic perspective. I think, “What do we want our culture to be in the years ahead? Are the benefits packages she is proposing perhaps the right ones to get us there? Are they family friendly? Are they relevant for people in today’s world? Will they make us an employer of choice?” I quite enjoy the rich conversations we have about the impact of compensation and benefits design on the culture we want to create. Now, I see our relationship as much more collaborative and jointly invested in attracting and retaining the best people who will ultimately deliver on the company strategy. It’s a completely different lens.

Defining how finance and HR align to the company strategy

Renata and I believe that greater collaboration between finance and HR is a critical success factor. How can your organization achieve this shift? “Once the organization has clearly defined what role finance and HR must play and how they fundamentally align to the company strategy, then it’s more natural to structure them in a way to support such transformation,” Renata explains.

Technology plays an important role in our ability to successfully collaborate. Looking back, finance and HR were heavily focused on our own operational areas because everything we did tended to consume more time – just keeping the lights on and taking care of our basic responsibilities. Now, through a more efficient operating model with shared services, standard operating procedures, and automation, we can both be more business-focused and integrated. As a result, we’re able to collaborate in more meaningful ways to have a positive impact on business outcomes.

In our next blog, we’ll look at how finance and HR can work together as agents of change.

For a deeper dive, download the Oxford Economics study sponsored by SAP.

Follow SAP Finance online: @SAPFinance (Twitter)LinkedIn | FacebookYouTube


Richard McLean

About Richard McLean

Richard McLean, regional CFO for SAP Asia Pacific Japan, oversees all key finance and administrative functions for field and regional headquarters, supporting more than 16,000 employees. He has more than 20 years of experience in senior finance roles with leading global companies across a range of industries, including financial services, investment banking, automotive, and IT. He joined SAP in 2008.