Digitalising the insurance industry

By: Jaco Swanepoel, group CEO of SilverBridge

While it has become fashionable to position new technology implementations as part of a digital transformation process, the reality is that it takes effort and skill to unlock the value that technology provides. In our experience, clients want to improve operations using technology platforms whilst still maintaining their core business values.

The growing use of technology by a broader cross-section of people has created a new level of customer requirements. One can argue that new technology is a fad with many people that still do not have access. However, the promise of a connected world has enormous aspirational value for younger generations. In their everyday experience, information is available immediately, they stay connected, and change happens instantaneously.

This impacts their expectations from service providers who will have to adapt accordingly. Traditionally, insurers provided their services based on past behaviour and the aggregate experience of a group of similar people. However, connected customers expect services based on their behaviour as it stands now. This results in the insurer needing to deliver solutions that reflect behaviour in real-time. Connectedness, and thus the continuous sharing of information, means that the insurance company can use current behaviour to provide relevant cover.

Internal approach

But it is not only from a customer solution perspective that digital has impacted on the insurance industry.

Data has always provided the foundation for the successful business of an insurer. One of the advantages of new data analysing techniques is that decision-makers can effectively analyse information in real-time. This means delivery processes can be better tailored to suit the needs of customers and internal processes can be optimised to provide better service.

Additionally, the insurance company employees are used to connectedness outside the place of work. They will come to expect the same connectedness in the office. This dynamic environment will see a world where information is available immediately, change takes place instantly, and everybody is connected in a workplace.

Previously, disparate operations had very little sight of what other parts of the business was doing. In this digital approach, it will be transparent. Delivery of claims can be immediate and correction of errors instantaneous.

The positive impact on processes will not only free up additional funds but also allow employees to focus on core business functions. Digitalising current processes has become necessary for an insurer to achieve operational excellence and further differentiate from competitors.

Growth trajectory

Adding impetus to this focus on digital transformation is the extent of which the business landscape is changing in Africa. C-suite executives are much more comfortable in examining new approaches than twelve months ago. To a certain extent, they have gotten used to negotiating through the cloud and big data and are realising the benefits to be had.

This creates a natural knock-on effect for insurers to examine other ways to extract more value out of the data they have at their disposal. The next frontier is to bring connectedness to the work place to speed up delivery of all services.

However, technology is just one part of the process. An insurer needs to ensure that all executives are prepared to embrace technology. The biggest challenge for the executive is that they might not be part of the target market and will therefore be unwilling to embrace this change. Once they face up to this, the digital transformation process can be more easily adapted to the unique organisational needs of the insurance company and provide a platform for growth well into the future.