Every year I look forward to learning what trends we can expect to see in the coming 12 months, and how they will impact the insurance industry. Fjord, part of Accenture Interactive, has released its 2016 report describing ten trends with an impact on design, users, organisations and society.

Here’s a summary of Fjord’s trends for 2016 and my take on what insurers should be thinking about:

  • Watch… It listens. Listening technology allows people to act on any impulse, which has broken the customer journey into a plethora of real-time, intent-driven micro-moments. This shift has implications for insurers—in terms of delivering on these micro-moments..
  • Services with manners. In the post-Snowden era, the public is anxiously aware that businesses and governments are collecting personal data, leading consumes to a culture of distrust. Insurers who fail to earn trust in how they collect, store and control data will lose business, may face legal ramifications, and fail to reach their full potential.
  • B2WE. Technology is enabling skills that are easily transferable across industries, resulting in insurers battling for top-tier talent. However, there is a disconnect between the delightful consumer-facing software that the next generation know and love, and clunky workplace tools for anything from time entry to procurement or travel booking. Insurers need to move fast to re-imagine the digital services and touchpoints that their employees use.
  • Disappearing apps. Apps have reached a tipping point, where they’ve shifted from being user-controlled to proactively powering a user’s life. The future of “app” design will be counterintuitive. Most organisations, including insurers, currently focus on the transaction of a service. The focus is shifting to the interaction, or “point of x,” and Insurers apps need to make this as smooth as possible, with the transaction happening naturally.
  • The flattening of privilege. Scalable, ubiquitous computing has changed our perception of what is feasible and within reach in our social sphere. Using analytics, intuitive visualisations, timely notifications and guidance, financial services can now act as personal advisors for mass-market customers. They can analyse patterns of money-related behaviours such as income, spending and savings, and offer strategies that only a few could use before. Insurers need to watch, learn and take advantage of these same strategies.
  • For the people. Digital is pulling world leadership in divergent directions, yet technology has also paved the way for the private sector and governments to solve major challenges together. This is the year when technology will be in service of the public good. And more importantly, technology will enable a new breed of citizenship.
  • Healthy is the new wealth. Data is the newest fitness accessory. But this will have the effect of turning fitness into wellness—a much bigger opportunity. Insurers, such as John Hancock in the United States, are creating apps that let customers record their activities and earn discounts on their annual premiums based on healthy patterns of behaviour.
  • VR’s dreams come true. Companies are mobilising for virtual reality (VR) and creating platforms for experimentation with the technology. For insurers, VR will like affect processes, such as how they meet and collaborate, and enhance individual productivity.
  • Taking things off the thinking list. Thanks to the digitisation of everything, we now have the most reactive markets in history. Innovation at this speed can come with unintended consequences—lots of options and the burden of increased choice. For insurers, this means finding better ways to identify and deliver what people need, while reducing the thinking required to fulfil their needs and goals.
  • Design from within. For corporations, the pressure to innovate has never been stronger. As a result, we’ve seen companies invest directly in business incubators and innovation labs, bringing design thinking and problem solving in-house. Arguably it’s harder than ever to gain sustainable differentiation from technology and business-focused innovation alone, which is why culture—as experienced through design-led innovation—may be the best way to win, because it’s so much harder to copy.

These are the new battlegrounds insurers need to understand if they hope to be leaders in the markets that are emerging in 2016.

To learn more, download Fjord Trends 2016: Trends Impacting Design and Innovation

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