New research from Accenture shows that insurers have a somewhat mixed approach to digital transformation.

On the one hand, insurers see digital transformation or digitalization as an important priority but, by their own admission, their digital investments and activities remain exploratory. The research—known as the Accenture Digital Innovation Survey 2014—polled 141 executives with responsibility for driving digital strategy in Europe, the Americas, South Africa and Japan between July and September.

Figure 1: About the research on digital insurance

Our aim was to get a sense of what insurers were actually up to when it comes to digital innovation and transformation—and, critically, what value they expected to create. This research nicely complements the research on digital value levers and what their financial would be that I recently blogged about. Read my blog series.

Before I look at the results in some more detail, I want to return to the distinction between digitalization and digitization, because it’s one that permeates the study, and demarcates the gap between Digital Followers and Digital Transformers, or leaders.

Briefly, digitization is the use of new technologies to make existing processes and channels run better, thus reducing costs and increasing efficiency. It makes sense to digitize but the point is that insurers risk missing out on the real value of digital if they leave it there. Digitalization has to be considered.

This means looking with a more open mind at what the new technology might enable, how it could change the way an insurer does things. In other words, it’s not just about efficiency—though efficiency certainly is a benefit—but about new opportunities for generating customer value, and even for disrupting the industry altogether.

Having made that vital distinction, next week I’ll start to look at some of the key findings in a little more detail.

For more information, download the full survey results, Accenture Digital Innovation Survey 2014: Seizing the opportunities of digital transformation and explore the data using our data visualization tool.

Other papers on the topic that you might find useful:

Accenture 2013 Consumer-Driven Innovation Survey: Playing to win

The Customer-centric Insurer in the Digital Era

Double the profits: How high-performance insurers can create business value from digital transformation

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