Last time we looked at some of the creative ways in which insurers can re-position their role and identify new risk pools, and how to anticipate and meet customer needs to compete in the new Internet of Me society.

Part of that success hinges on insurers’ ability to create new platforms by collaborating with new digital partners – 64 percent of insurers say they plan to do that with partners within insurance, and 45 percent of these seek partners outside of insurance. Some seek partnerships because they understand the role of making innovation a safe reality, others because they see that their brand is not sufficient to play a more regular role in customers’ lives.

These insurers see the potential to satisfy customer needs and increase their profits by operating not as individual corporate entities, but within ecosystems.

Here’s some great examples of these symbiotic relationships:

  • American Family Insurance has teamed up with Microsoft Ventures to launch a business accelerator for startups focused on home automation.
  • In healthcare, Apple and Humana in the U.S. have partnered to let consumers share Apple HealthKit data from wearable devices and apps with Humana’s Vitality app. Policyholders receive financial incentives such as premium discounts for healthy behavior.
  • In the personal lines auto arena, State Farm is collaborating with Ford on autonomous driving research to assess whether driver-assist technologies can lower the rate of rear collisions.

These insurers have the chance to embed themselves into tomorrow’s customer-centric digital ecosystems, becoming the regulators of the disruptive technologies of the future, and enabling process.

And this is only the beginning. Over the last decade, technology companies like Apple, Facebook and Salesforce.com have been in the driver’s seat for delivering platform-based businesses. Going forward, non-tech industries will play a leading role in becoming platform-based businesses. One example is Deere & Co.’s MyJohnDeere platform, which helps agricultural producers consolidate management of equipment information, production data and other farm operations. This clearly signals that Deere will address a higher percentage of the needs and intentions of farmers, leveraging their brand and relationships to extend their offerings.

Accenture research shows that nearly three-quarters of insurers agree that the next generation of platforms will be led by industry players and leaders; and 77 percent are using or experimenting with open innovation to integrate applications and collaborate with business partners. Imagine a world where you are the “risk manager inside,” similar to the “Intel Inside” view, where your platform and API set enables all newly developed apps to be “risk aware.” The potential for that type of platform is virtually limitless.

Platform-driven ecosystems continue to form as convergence reaches across multiple industries; the tools and techniques are coming together today, and the data and sources of data are accessible now. Insurers must determine which platforms and ecosystems will give their organizations competitive advantage and define their roles in the digital economy. If you don’t define your role in these new ecosystems, then someone else will.

Read more on this topic by downloading the Beyond insurance: Embracing innovation to monetize disruption report.

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