The innovative potential in the insurance industry has been a major theme of conference agendas over the past year or so, and this year's Celent Innovation and Insight Day, held Wednesday in Boston, was no different. From the opening keynote from MIT's Jeanne Ross, titled "Creating Innovation DNA," to the closing panel of insurance technology executives, presenters focused heavily on strategies for addressing the impact of next-generation technologies on customer expectations.
It was in that final panel discussion where Celent analyst and moderator Donald Light asked each of the three panelists a question: Which innovative technology do you believe has the most potential to change the insurance industry? Here are their answers:
Bonnie Wasgatt, Vice President, Jackson National Life: E-signature
"We recently launched an e-app with electronic signature on iPad," Wasgatt says. "Now [agents] don't need more than one device" to make sales pitches and capture signatures, she adds.
Justin Manley, CIO - Americas, Torus Insurance: Infrastructure as a service
"When we are looking at cloud, for us that's not true multi tenant software-as-a-service, it's more infrastructure-as-a-service," Manley explains. "The cost benefits far outweigh any reason for me to own data centers when there are others way better at it."
Michel Finschi, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer – Claims, XL Services Switzerland Ltd: Predictive analytics
"What excites me is rating engines and analytics in underwriting," Finschi says. "We do some predictive analytics and these are very sophisticated tools. We have now underwriters on IT platforms in limited pilots" instead of working on paper, he adds.
But there was a follow-up question with a curiously uniform reaction: Which technology do you think has the least potential? Two out of three panelists identified social media.
"We have not figured out to capture the value of social media," Wasgatt said. "We use it in HR and recruiting, but the value in terms of selling, getting more product to the street -- I don't think we've figured out how to make that profitable for us. Where do you invest in it and how do you make money? I'm not sure it's warranted a huge investment."
Torus' Manley echoed similar sentiments. Social has its place as a fringe distribution channel for company-related content, but for commercial insurers such as his company, doesn't go much beyond that, he said.
"We use [social] for PR and HR, but loss prevention isn't going to happen because some company is making up stories about their building is coming down," he quipped.