Every year, Accenture’s design and innovation consultancy Fjord identifies the trends that will have the greatest impact on the role of digital services in the business world, with particular emphasis on consumer expectations and service design. The 2015 report predicts that successful organizations will form connections between services, devices and places, with an eye to minimizing the seams between them. Those that succeed will offer the most engaging and profitable value in the year ahead.

Fjord’s trends for 2015 are:

1. Designing for seamless experiences between physical and digital channels and across devices.

Consumers toggle continually between devices and channels. It’s in the spaces between them that the customer experience might be fragmented. The gaps between the physical and the online worlds are especially challenging for insurers. But users expect a consistent brand experience across all touch points, and therein lies the challenge for carriers.

2. Aggregation moves to services.

Aggregators like Google, Facebook and Spotify have increased customer expectations regarding ease of use and immediacy. Fjord predicts that others will follow their lead and start branching into different parts of their customers’ lives, providing value in unexpected ways and places. For insurers, the trend will gain traction among customers when carriers combine most of their services into a single aggregated, connected and user-friendly offering that also includes the services of their ecosystem partners.

3. As advances in technology enable more natural human-machine interactions, insurers need to evolve their digital personalities.

The fast paced development of cognitive machine learning, combined with data analytics, is offering insurers many more options to radically humanize and personalize their customer interactions. USAA uses facial recognition as an authentication option for its customers. Fjord also recommends incorporating the brand personality into digital touchpoints. Allianz UK is doing this by partnering with the popular Mumsnet website, positioning itself as a carrier that understands and cares about the stresses of motherhood.

4. More physical actions and items will become data-driven services.

There are many examples of visionary startups that merge the physical and the digital. The Uber ride-sharing platform has enjoyed spectacular growth by combining cars and data within a radical business model. In insurance, a number of carriers are seeking authorization to employ drones for damage assessment in remote or hazardous locations. The concept of the “connected insurer” utilizes sensors attached to physical objects (including people) to obtain data that enables entirely new products and services. This is a trend which is set to revolutionize the insurance business.

5. The gateways to interacting with our surroundings are not only expanding, but standardizing.

The popularity of wearable devices is especially evident in the health and fitness sector. From vehicle telematics to in-home monitoring systems and autonomous manufacturing, the message is clear: we’re moving toward a totally connected world. One result is likely to be that insurers will develop a “sixth sense” that anticipates what a customer might want, and will be able to act on it—using smart design and data mining—before the customer lifts a finger.

6. Businesses are creating points of action to equip their omni-channel with omni-colleagues who can take meaningful action for the customer.

There is a shift from robotic to personalized, in which businesses are finding ways to make their customer interactions more human and engaging. A great example is the ride-share program Lyft, which allows passengers to give feedback on their experience and dispute ride fares directly if their experience falls short of their expectations. In insurance, ING Life in Poland has created a sophisticated sales app that speeds up the application process, allowing agents to spend more time getting closer to their customers.

To find out more about the insurance implications of the trends that Fjord has identified, read Jean-Francois Gasc’s series on the Accenture Insurance Blog.

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