Having looked, in my previous blog post, at why AI is the new UI, I turn to another trend from the Accenture Technology Vision for Insurance 2017—namely, “Ecosystem Power Plays: Unleash the Power of Us.” Over the past few years in our annual Tech Vision, we have documented how platforms and ecosystems are reshaping the insurance market.

We believe that the competitive advantage of tomorrow won’t be determined by one company alone, but by the strength of the ecosystems it chooses, and its plans to help the ecosystems grow. These ecosystems are formed when companies leverage digital platforms to bring a range of goods and services together as living solutions.

Consider, for example, how the likes of Apple and Amazon orchestrate a range of products, services and customer experiences from numerous partners on their platforms. As ecosystems start to emerge across the smart office, the connected home, healthcare, agriculture and more, insurers must decide where they will play in this new world. 

Accenture predicts that in five years, the majority of customers will be purchasing goods and services through a digital intermediary such as messaging platforms, connected devices, or smart assistants

 

For insurance organizations, leveraging platforms from third parties is not new. Carriers and brokers were early to recognize the potential of leveraging Google’s platforms for advertising, and in some markets, aggregators account for a significant portion of policies sold. What’s more, many carriers also use public, private, or hybrid cloud technology, linking them into ecosystems they can join, and a potential network of partners they can leverage to bring their future strategies to life.

Embracing a holistic strategy

But the challenge insurance carriers face now is to embrace a more holistic strategy that balances tactical decision-making with strategic investing in the digital ecosystems that will encompass their long-term growth. The new digital ecosystems, from the connected home, to precision agriculture, to connected health, are still small, but companies are choosing both their partners and their roles in these ecosystems now.

As insurers look to expand into the next generation of digital ecosystems, some may build platforms themselves and create ecosystems with their business at the center. But not every company needs to be the platform provider. Many will find it cheaper and faster to leverage existing platforms as their means to enter new ecosystems. 

94 percent of insurers say adopting a platform-based business model and engaging in ecosystems with digital partners is critical to their success

Whichever route they follow, few insurers will want to contemplate a future where they merely provide commoditized, white-label products to platform owners. The leaders will be thinking about how to take a more prominent role in their customers’ future lives and create business models that keep their brands in the forefront of the ecosystem.

Whether it’s accessing new customer touchpoints or building new markets with industry partnerships, the external platforms that insurance organizations rely on throughout their enterprise are becoming the gateways to new digital ecosystems—and the catalysts of an evolution in their value chain.

You can read the Accenture Technology Vision for Insurance 2017 Full Report, Executive Summary and infographic for the highlights of our research.

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