We just wrapped up the latest event in our Executive Networking Series, a roundtable discussion entitled “The Future of Insurance – Are You Ready to Adapt to Compete?” This was a spirited give-and-take among members of Accenture’s insurance team and senior leadership of a number of insurance companies.

We previewed the new North America Digital Insurance Solution Center – an incubator environment in Chicago that helps insurers explore the evolving industry landscape and develop and test innovative digital applications and solutions. We looked at the impact of digital on insurance, and in particular at how digital innovations such as mobile, analytics, cloud, and the Internet of Things are helping insurers provide tailored advice and end-to-end services. And we looked at the changing world of insurance, in which customers are questioning the core value proposition of insurance and seeking a better experience from all providers – including insurers.

Some insurers are still coming to grips with today’s technological innovations, such as mobile, cloud, wearable devices, drones, social media, and big data and analytics. As the roundtable made clear, however, industry leaders – we call them “Digital Transformers” – are already grappling with the next round of innovation, as represented by sensor networks, robotics and artificial intelligence, visualization, predictive computing and biometric authorization. Digital Transformers are using these and other technologies to move to a new business model, one that is less about policies and more about advice and guidance.

Digital Transformers, for example, may offer new services which are not tied to insurance policies and premiums – such as elder care facilitated by robotics and artificial intelligence. Or, they may partner with technology companies to create new services.  What’s really exciting about Digital Transformers, however, is that they see insurance as central to a new age of innovation and technological progress, enabling advances in areas ranging from autonomous vehicles to connected homes.

We ended the roundtable with a much broader view of the opportunities facing insurers. In the short- and medium-term, insurers can use existing technologies to improve products and processes and reduce costs. Longer-term, though, insurers need to be thinking not only about new technologies but about entirely new ways of meeting customers’ needs.

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