Daniele Presutti shares his highlights from Insuretech Connect 2017. His key finding: that insurers and insurtechs can complement each other to deliver better customer outcomes.

Last year, I was part of a group of 1,800 attendees at Insuretech Connect. This year, conference organizers welcomed nearly 4,000 people. The numbers speak to the growing interest in the space, and how fast things are changing. We’re not just focusing on AI, but conversational AI; not just sensors but the constant stream of data that it unleashes; and other topics like blockchain, robotics and drones. At the conference, people debated whether AI will replace the back office, whether blockchain will move beyond proof of concept, and whether it’s essential to be a leader or a fast follower.

Technology is enabling the future

As explained in one of the plenary sessions, the world is changing quickly, and so it the very nature of insurance. In particular, Matt Leonard from Oliver Wyman shared three ways that technology is enabling insurers to better serve clients:

  • Products will look fundamentally different. Mr. Leonard explained how sensors can generate an explosion of data that enables real-time, dynamic coverage that insurers can leverage to generate greater intimacy with their customers.
  • Existing roles will evolve and new roles will emerge. Rather than compartmentalize roles by business function—actuary, underwriter, data scientist—the new insurance landscape will rely on different experts. Mr. Leonard suggested roles like risk controller, risk trader, business risk advisor and risk signal analyst.
  • Service platforms will play a central role. This reinforces what Accenture has published about the need for insurers to participate in platforms and ecosystems—insurers can no longer operate within the vacuum of their four walls.

Insurers and insurtechs need each other

To me, the themes at Insuretech Connect support the Accenture perspective that the combination of insurers and their partners can provide new experiences to the customer. In order to create products that aren’t one-off transactions that you sign and forget about—but rather, products that adapt to customer needs and provide a living service—you need insurers and insurtechs. Insurtechs have good vision, but largely lack the capability to execute at a scale that large organizations need. Large organizations (that is, incumbent insurers) have capabilities to execute at scale, but face challenges within the enterprise at reinventing the business.

It’s especially heartening to see the attention that large insurers are paying to insurtech and how it can enable transformation. In particular, I think large insurers’ challenge is to not just pilot innovation but bring it to scale within their organizations to change how they do business.

I look forward to seeing what comes out of Insuretech Connect. The conference brought to life the many ways that a connected world, partnerships and innovation can create opportunities for new ways of delivering and experiencing insurance.

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