In my previous post, I spoke about the rise of an “Internet of Me” and how Asian insurers are under pressure to deliver more personalized experiences to their customers. I also pointed out insurers will need to embed themselves in “ecosystems” comprising other entities and companies if they are meet the demands of their customers for richer, more relevant experiences.
This is the world of what Accenture calls “The Platform (R)evolution”—one of the trends highlighted in our Insurance Technology Vision for 2015. We believe that platform-based ecosystems are the new plane of competition, and those insurers that create meaningful ecosystems are the ones that will be best-placed to thrive into the future.
A platform can be loosely defined as a blueprint for how companies will build, connect, and deliver applications specific to industry problems. The platforms serve as a pool of reusable functionality and capabilities to make building and evolving these applications quick and easy—and to help companies ultimately achieve better business outcomes.
By combining the power of technology platforms with their industry expertise, companies are developing new business models and capabilities crucial to creating disruptive innovation, leading in key markets, and driving growth. Inherent in these platform models is the ecosystem they create and harness to deliver value.
Asian insurance companies, particularly those in China, are doing some interesting things with partners such as WeChat, which has evolved from a mobile social app into a full transactional platform with some 600 million users. Taikang Life Insurance, for example, rolled out an experimental cancer health policy via WeChat, giving it a social wrinkle. Users could pay one yuan for insurance coverage worth 1,000 yuan should they be diagnosed with cancer. They could also ask friends and family in their social network for donations.
Despite its small scope, this example points to a future where insurance is embedded more deeply into customers’ lives because it forms part of a platform they use every day. The key characteristic of platform-based insurance is that others outside the company are creating value for the enterprise—in many cases enabling entirely new digital models for the company.
But to start taking advantage of this trend, an insurer must determine its unique value and role within the ecosystem. Is it the primary ecosystem leader and digital industry platform owner? Or does it play more of a secondary or shared role in delivering the customer outcome? There are no easy answers to these questions, but progressive insurers are already thinking deeply about them today.