It’s no secret why the number “360,” as in 360 degrees, keeps appearing in all sorts of places: Organizations have rediscovered that the world is round. Linear operations now seem to have been replaced with multiple views and concepts, teasing out all sorts of new possibilities up, down and around.

Google is a superb example of this.

Starting in the late 1990s with a search engine that took a more nuanced approach to rankings than the prevailing ones, Google gradually built out its value chain by developing, acquiring or partnering to offer new products that fill the needs of the computer-using public. Gmail met the public’s correspondence needs, Google Earth mapped the world in macro and mini dimensions and its calendar handled day-to-day scheduling.  Today, customers can use the cloud-based Google Apps portal to easily access additional productivity software in the form of cloud-storage service (Google Drive), translation services (Google Translate) and an office suite (Google Docs).  Customers seeking entertainment can use the video-sharing tool You Tube, and some of the more than 1.4 million apps available through Google Play.  Google offers Web browsing through a desktop product (Chrome) and the mobile Chrome OS. And when smartphones and tablets were developed, Google saw yet another opportunity: It partnered with electronics companies to offer a line of low-cost mobile devices (Google Nexus) that use the Android operating systems.

Over the past 15 years, Google’s apps have collected and analyzed a vast amount of personal and usage data from its customers.  Sophisticated analytics, coupled with the sheer number of advertising platforms it now controls, fuel its major revenue stream.  Advertising accounted for $16.8 billion of gross revenues for third quarter 2015, up 11% year-over-year.

But there’s more. Urs Hölze, Google’s senior VP of technical infrastructure, recently predicted revenues from cloud technology would surpass advertising by 2020.

In a less dramatic way, the insurance value chain in many companies is going through this same kind of change, spurred on by IT transformation, including cloud technologies, Internet of Things, mobility and analytics.  Digital opportunities abound in the industry—from policy administration, through sales and distribution and into claims. And insurers that have undertaken such transformation all along the chain can create offerings that pay off.

Cyber risk, for example, is one area where organizations like Marsh are creating new products and services.  In 2014 Marsh introduced a privacy modeling tool, which uses analytics and Monte Carlo simulation to provide clients with insight into the real costs of a privacy breach. This information drives demand for coverage and helps guide customers about how much to purchase. This spring Marsh added other products that provide companies with insight into how their cyber risk is changing and an outside-in analytics-driven view of cyber risk along with customized advisory services.  Marsh followed this by announcing a partnership with a cyber security company to offer objective assessment scorecards.

Read the report.
Read the Accenture 2015 Risk Management Study, North American Insurance Report

Similarly a large global insurance company, which has offered cyber insurance coverage for more than a dozen years, also took note of disconnect between the increasing risk of cyber attack and low rate of purchase and decided to act. (Breaches have become a common threat, yet a recent study of senior information security professionals showed that despite their fears that cyber attacks will increase, businesses aren’t buying much coverage and those that do fear their policies won’t pay out.)

The insurer broadened its potential customer base with additional products like excess liability for those who self-insure.  It turned to loss prevention and claim mitigation by offering or including a large group of services—some that the company provides and some from partners or vendors.   Acknowledging the growth of mobile technology, the insurer created mobile applications for the iPad, iPhone and Android that provide real-time information on cyber risk and data breaches.  Finally, a 24/7 claims reporting and guidance hotline, a dedicated breach-resolution team, and ready access to legal, investigative and crisis services help round out a time-sensitive response to a cyber attack.

Clearly, technology innovation can enable a host of services along the insurance value chain to differentiate an insurer. But even focusing on a single portion of the chain can make a big difference.

Consider claims operations.  Moving from the traditional model to no-touch or low-touch claims models is a concept that continues to gain traction.  It involves a paradigm shift from a traditional service model to one focused on analytics-based triage, allowing the majority of claims to be handled through customer self-service. It can take full advantage of digital–the proliferation of connected devices, the Internet of Things, and mobility–to bring efficiency and convenience to both insurer and customer.

Customers, accustomed to the service levels of Amazon and Google, can use a Smartphone app to digitally file the claim immediately after a fender-bender.  They can respond to questions and upload photos of the damage for a quick and satisfying claims experience.

Digital carriers can achieve a lot more with claims, though. They could, for example:

  • Analyze this information and use it to reserve payouts more accurately.
  • Redirect more resources to handle complicated or suspicious claims.
  • Detect new claim trends and propose changes or new products.

The insurance value chain is filled with these kinds of 360-degree opportunities for those with the imagination and digital ability to develop them.

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