Top 10 Disruptive Technologies for Life Insurers
Gartner's new report, titled "Top 10 Technologies With the Greatest Impact on the Life Insurance Industry," calls on life insurers to be more aggressive with new technology adoption and core system replacements. According to the report, global life insurers are increasing their focus on topics that were "ignored or underinvested in during the last five years." Meanwhile, consumerization and compliance are placing increasing emphasis on operational efficiency. Gartner warns insurers that many emerging technologies considered for increasing processes provide limited ROI, incremental improvements at best and do not update the business model, reduce costs or generate revenue. Indeed, prioritization is crucial.
Sales Process and New Business Automation: Faster, faster, faster; faster revenue recognition, faster payment of commissions to distributors and less time for prospects to search for other options. While most insurers have not achieved it yet, straight-through processing continues to be a major initiative when it comes to improving sales processes times, which Gartner predicts will become an increasingly important competitive differentiator.
Sales Force Automation (SFA): In helping support vertical processes, and as a way of tightening CRM and sales practices, life insurers are employing SFA to manage the many relationships, platforms and portals unique to field sales as well as agent and broker management. SFA also brings with it the potential to infuse the sales process with more customer data and tools to assist in the process.
Social Technologies: Sill a budding business tool, many insurers are content monitoring social tools until long-term business potential reveals itself. For now, Gartner sees apt opportunity for insurers to monitor and create content, market to new, unique customer segments, create complaint management processes, establish guidelines for employee use, internal communication and sales messaging using the networks.
Product Configurators: Product lifecycle management includes life insurer goals to improve speed to market, product quality, pricing accuracy and customization. To mitigate the time and responsibilities involved in updating or creating products, insurers are eliminating redundancies, unnecessary complexities, creating central product repositories to house all product rules, testing products prior to production, etc. The result of this is the ability to create niche products quickly and efficiently, respond quickly to emerging needs and support on-demand customization.
Cloud Computing: Complexities of the cloudchiefly security and complianceare still being worked out by most life insurers, which has led private or hybrid cloud implementations to remain popular despite reduced benefits. Yet, the long-term potential for IT cost savings and low upfront cost will make this option attractive for smaller insurers interested in modern solutions.
Analytics: Investments in BI and analytics overall are rising and should continue to do so, given the opportunities to gain intelligence into operational, customer and underwriting trends. Yet few insurers have data aggregated, cleansed and accessible to analyze in real time or near real time. Insurers that fail to keep up with trends in analytics will be significantly disadvantaged.
Predictive Underwriting Solutions: A relatively green technology that may take years to ferment before widespread use is possible, these solutions leverage predictive modeling to create underwriting models and could provide insurers with vastly improved experiences in terms of speed, control and cost.
Case Management: Another way of infusing more data into decision processes, case management replaces the recent focus on BPM by promising improved decisioning, accuracy, profitability, agent satisfaction and reduced risks for reinsurance. For life insurers seeking ways to manage complex and collaborative decisions, particularly for underwriting, case management provides a support and communication platform that fills the technology gap between agents' sales systems, underwriting technologies and policy administration systems.
Portals: Even though portals are the basic interaction method of most insurers today, its an area in which insurers have to take a more aggressive approach in order to offer a place for collaboration among agents, underwriters and customers. Carriers must ensure that portals support full transaction capabilities and meet user needs, starting with user interfaces (UIs) and personalization based on an individual consumer's needs or likes. Portals should also provide real-time data access, straight-through processing for new quotes, policy issuance and customer service tasks, integration with the call center to support live interaction with company representatives and interactive needs assessment and toolsall while being supported on mobile devices.
Mobile Devices/Technologies: In the next few years, insurers' internal users and agents/brokers may have the highest demand for mobile technologies in terms of accessing customer information, real-time alerts, performance dashboards and transactional systems, yet they can't overlook consumers. In addition to providing internal users and agents/brokers with mobile-supported sales and service tools, including access to SFA solutions, new business and illustration applications and billing systems, consumers will increasingly want to check their investment portfolios via handheld devices. Building out applications for customers will become common practice among leading-edge companies.
According to a Gartner review of the life sector, software market, client priorities and past studies, these technologies have the greatest potential for impact in 2012.