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Insurers Sail Under "Winds of Change"

Even as technology is driving change in the insurance industry more than ever, today's commerce is characterized by the human concerns of consumers, be they end-customers, customer-facing employees or even mobile app developers.

In an increasingly consumerized technology world, insurance CIOs have to make more bets about the directions of consumer preference. For example, insurers have had to decide whether and how much to invest in development of mobile applications on Apple's iOS or Google's Android. Industry observers initially deplored Apple's "closed garden" proprietary approach and saw strength in diversity. Today, as I&T's Nathan Golia reports, developers and consumers tend to prefer iOS. However, he cautions, it's dangerous to assume that anything in mobile is going to last forever, and indeed more insurers are looking to multi-platform solutions for customer mobile access.

Insurers are also responding to changing consumer attitudes toward usage-based, telematics-driven insurance offerings. Under the right conditions, American consumers are more comfortable about the information-sharing required by telematics, and new strategies go beyond the simple "black-box" approach that Progressive pioneered about a decade ago against strong consumer resistance.

The advent of "Big Data" may be the greatest game-changer of all for the insurance industry, but insurers are struggling to even define the term, let alone properly understand its relevance to their enterprise and craft prudent technology investment strategies. In "7 Opinions on Big Data: Defining It, Using It, Storing It and More," we round up a selection of insights on how insurers should think about this trend.

Technology is driving change in the insurance industry more than ever, but today's technology trends show more clearly than ever how art and science must progress together, and how technology is merely a servant to human processes. Celebrated business thinker Tom Peters made this point very forcefully in his keynote address at the annual IASA conference in San Diego.

Since the Industrial Revolution began, technological advances have often been about simple efficiency. "Lean manufacturing" has introduced the concepts of agility and precision into resource allocation, but today's commerce is characterized by human concerns — such as those of developer and consumer preference for iOS. Peters recommended Dale Carnegie's 1936 classic "How to Win Friends and Influence People," he reasserted his mantra of "people first" adding that they should also come second, third, fourth fifth and sixth. And he emphasized that attention to the customer includes employees — that in an important sense, those who serve customers are themselves customers of the enterprise.

Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio

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