Talk about interesting times in the business of insurance. The year 2015 saw the attention-getting launch of Google Compare and its hibernation about 12 months later. Traditional insurers like Mass Mutual and Shelter Mutual got busy and launched their own direct-to-consumer digital quoting and sales businesses. State Farm was busy filing patents for by-the-trip car insurance and the means to measure just how stressed drivers were behind the wheel and rate their insurance accordingly. Prudential recognized that previously scary diseases were now chronic conditions that could be medically managed, launching life insurance coverage for HIV positive customers. AOL saw an opportunity and is now selling insurance to its members. And we at Forrester have been busy keeping track of over 700 disrupters across FinTech that have been capturing market attention and venture capital. Some of these firms like Lemonade are returning to the social roots of insurance. Lemonade's founders also appreciate that consumers are irrational economic animals and decided to hire a behavioral scientist to help them anticipate the crazy actions of homo sapiens. And yet some people out there still call insurance a boring industry!
I’m a bit of a car nut. I love driving cars. So does my wife. We both autocross one of our cars most weekends in the New England summers (FYI AutoX is a great way to hone your driving skills and be a safer driver). We love our cars and I’m pretty passionate about the whole driving experience.
In my post from CES this year, I noted that every single automaker seems hell-bent on making the car the center of their customer’s digital world. No doubt manufacturers hear the siren call of customer data; imagining all that they could do with such rich information. But it’s inside-out because, even for car-lovers like me, the car is not the center of my digital universe and I doubt it ever will be. Why? Because my car doesn’t go with me wherever I go. But you know what does? My phone.
“The industrial companies that can bring together cloud, open source, and real-time process management with industrial product cycles will be the ones that will win in the digital transformation process.”
William Ruh, CEO for GE Digital
At Mobile World Congress 2016, GE outlined some fundamental insights about the digital transformation efforts of industrial businesses. William Ruh, CEO for GE Digital, a US$6 billion business of General Electric, shared valuable insights about the digital transformation process that industrial businesses need to tackle.
Digital Transformation Is Happening And Offers New Opportunities
Companies that fail to embrace digitization won’t be able to compete in the next decade. William Ruh stressed that while the past decade was primarily about the consumer Internet, the next decade will be about the industrial Internet. Digitization offers one of the biggest opportunities in many decades to companies that are willing to change:
Many technology vendors tell me they have established digital innovation labs as a place to bring customers and inspire them. So I was wondering, have you and your leadership team visited such a lab? If so, I'd like to hear from you:
Understanding agent attitudes toward their insurance carrier partners is crucial in earning independent agent loyalty—and driving sales. Why? Because despite predictions that direct-to-consumer insurance sales would doom the insurance agent, nearly 20 years after the advent of online insurance selling, millions of consumers and small businesses continue to rely on their local insurance agencies. Consider that when it comes to their agents, US consumers:
Buy from. Even after all that money direct insurers spend on TV ads, consumers are still buying from insurance agencies. In a survey of 10,000 online Americans, we found that 84% of home insurance buyers stated that they bought from an agent; 82% did the same for their car insurance, while 57% of life insurance buyers said that they did.
Trust in. When we asked in the same survey about attitudes toward financial services providers, more than 70% of life insurance buyers and about two-thirds of non-life insurance buyers we surveyed agreed with the statement “I completely trust my agent”. And that trust runs deep for some customers, especially for 25-34 year olds we surveyed.
Stick with. And after buying from an agent, consumers tend to stick with their them We asked US online adults how long they had been buying certain coverage from their agents. The average relationships with their auto, home, and life agencies were 12.9, 12.5, and 16.3 years Consumer steadfastness with an agent is often longer than that loyalty to a spouse: the average American marriage that ends in divorce lasts eight years. And no surprise, the tenure with direct insurers is much shorter than that with agent-centric insurers.
Presenting and hosting a panel on digital transformation at this year's CES gave me the opportunity to wander the 2 million square feet of exhibit space and assimilate some of the changes coming our way:
Welcome To The Age Of Invention. For me, the most exciting aspect of CES is the sheer volume of innovative, inventive startups that are tapping into the power of sensor-enabled technology to create new products and services. Many of these companies are funded through crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, gofundme and indiegogo. The pace of innovation will accelerate as high-school kids use their fertile imaginations to tap into the technology that’s now second nature to them.
The Internet Of Things Will Fuel Rapid Digital Transformation. Based on the sheer volume of internet connected devices coming on the market this year, we’re going to see an explosion in the Internet Of Things (IoT). Everything – from wearables that track everything from your health and fitness to the temperature of a newborn child, and in-home appliances that interconnect to create a home environment tailored to your preferences – everything is now designed with sensors that collect data that's used to deliver better customer outcomes. Or at least that’s the promise. Sensors can and will improve our lives – giving us more data and insight about our environment and allowing us to tailor experiences to be more finely tuned to our personal desires. The data provided by the sensors in the Internet Of Things is the fuel for further digital transformation.
IBM opened its global Watson Internet of Things (IoT) headquarters in Munich this week. It is hardly unusual for this quintessential global business to open research centers on a global scale. But the decision to move the HQ for one of the most dynamic areas of the digital transformation arena to Munich is noteworthy for several reasons. The move underlines that:
IoT has a very strong B2B component. Yes, IoT will play a role in consumer segments such as the connected home. But connectivity limitations and costs, compliance, and security will put many IoT ambitions in the consumer space to rest. The real action will be in the B2B space, where IoT will be elemental to drive activities like predictive maintenance, fleet management, traffic management, supply chain management, and order processing. Forrester expects the market size for B2B eCommerce, of which IoT is a subset, to be about twice that of B2C by 2020.
IoT and big data are closely intertwined. The real value of IoT solutions will not come from the hardware components of connected assets but from the data they generate and consume. In order to manage and make sense of the data that connected assets generate, cognitive systems and machine learning will play a fundamental role for the evolution of IoT. “Employing” Watson in the IoT context elevates IBM’s role in the IoT market significantly.
It turns out executives are hugely optimistic about how digital will change their business. Forty-six percent of executives surveyed believe that in less than five years digital will have an impact on more than half their sales. This suggests not only huge awareness of the potential for digital to change today's business but also an expectation that their company will be successful in making the transformation needed to bring this expectation to fruition. And it's in the biggest companies, where change is hardest, that executives expect the greatest change.
In B2B industries like consumer packaged goods (CPG), wholesale sales, and professional services, the shift is expected to be dramatic — Forrester estimates that the US B2B eCommerce market will be $1.13 trillion by 2020.
CPG execs expect digital to have an impact on almost half their sales. Even though the percentage predicted by 2020 is still less than 50%, if CPG companies were to generate anything close to 45% of their sales through digitally enhanced products and services or through online sales by 2020, it signals a dramatic shift in the CPG landscape. The ripple effects of the digitization of more and more CPG will be felt through wholesale and retail channels.
A few days ago, at an event hosted by Continental, Deutsche Telekom AG, Fraunhofer ESK, and Nokia Networks, I came across an interesting example of an emerging mobile Internet-of-Things (IoT) solution: the initiative to “connect the Autobahn” in Germany. The goal of the Digitales Testfeld Autobahn initiative is to develop a platform that allows a wide range of players to access a common platform for digital services in the context of Germany’s road infrastructure. The event also included a test drive to highlight how driving “assistants” in connected cars could communicate with a latency of about 15 milliseconds. Discussions at the event underlined several insights that CIOs should consider when devising mobile IoT solutions:
Ecosystem partnerships create more value for IoT solutions than standalone approaches. At the event, Deutsche Telekom’s CEO, Continental’s Head of Interior Electronic Solutions, Nokia’s VP of Strategy, Fraunhofer-Institute’s Head of Embedded Systems, and Germany’s Minister for Transport all pointed to the necessity for close cooperation to make the “digital Autobahn” platform work. Proprietary OEM technologies will not boost the connected road infrastructure. Continental told us that open IoT systems create more value than closed systems for the company and its customers. To uncover its true potential, the “digital Autobahn” platform will also need to be open to third parties like weather forecasters, retailers, and entertainment companies. This means that CIOs need to support open APIs.
It’s that time of year! The time when every prognosticator comes up with their predictions for the next year. And this year my colleague Pascal and I took the lead in developing our 2016 predictions for the CIO role.
Rather than call out banal and obvious trends I wanted to make a stronger call on the CIO role in particular. In part this is because so many people gleefully post blogs predicting the demise of the CIO. And in part simply because it sometimes feels like I see the role of the CIO differently to many; as first and foremost a business leader.
So will 2016 be the end of the CIO role as we know it?
“No" is my simple answer. In 2016 the Age Of The Customer will further accelerate the role of technology in creating new sources of customer value to drive revenue. As a result we’ll see more and more CEOs expecting their CIOs to help lead their firm toward a clear digital future.
CEOs realize that, increasingly, future growth is tied to their ability to continuously deliver new digital services that create value for customers – across both B2C and B2B business environments. But failure to meet evolving customer expectations will result in losing customers and ultimately lower revenue growth. Without a technology team focused on building the digital platforms of tomorrow, companies cannot hope to keep up with their evolving customer expectations. 2016 will be a pivotal year for CIOs and CEOs – one that will see a significant change in leadership thinking when it comes to a company’s technology capabilities and digital assets.