2/8/2011

The Power of Tech Convergence

The confluence of mobile communications, social media and analytics are giving rise to a sea change in carrier efficiencies and effectiveness.

By Karen Furtado

Mobile communications, social media and analytics are in the process of forever changing the way claims are handled and how loss is prevented and managed. The convergence of the three may present some of the most exciting developments in claims technology in a generation.

Mobile and Self-Service Applications
The rapid advancements and phenomenal adoption rate in mobile technologies might be more aptly described as a revolution than an evolution. Mobile usage continues to explode due to the abundance of applications and the seemingly never-ending improvements in small, portable devices with rich function. The new generation of smartphones, (including iPhones, BlackBerrys, and Internet and multimedia-enabled Android phones) coupled with the explosion in the use of iPads and emerging tablet devices are rapidly changing where, when and how people communicate.

Recent Strategy Meets Action (SMA) Ecosystem Research shows that 15% to 20% of insurers have plans to invest in mobile development in 2011. Many are building and piloting new applications to capitalize on the prevalence of mobile communications—applications that deliver tools, information, and service to claims handlers and policyholders. Insurers have implemented apps and self-service portals that give individual policyholders access to their accounts and help them file a claim, obtain roadside assistance, browse recommended repair shops, and get claims status. This increased level of service is paying off and reducing claim severity. Fast, efficient claims service and informed claimants have been shown to result in lower claim payouts.

Social Media
Social media avenues are not only changing the style of communication, they are changing norms for what is public versus private. They are also altering the language of personal and business dialog—quick and to the point is good; an image is even better.

Insurers are already using social tools for branding and recruiting, and some of the leaders are creating micro-sites and utilizing Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social tools to enhance relationships with their customers. In the claims arena, more than a few insurers are turning to social media to help investigate claims fraud. Some insurers have been surprised at how the power of social media can magnify a bad claims experience. As a result, many are now monitoring social media, setting up more customer service avenues, and taking proactive steps to address customer issues and concerns. The nature of social media makes it a powerful tool for providing safety information and tips, helping customers determine the right coverages for their particular needs, and even coordinating repair networks.
Analytics
Mobile and social media technologies can help insurers reach and interact with their customers in many new ways. Analytics are the key to helping them identify the information and insights that make the difference in that interaction. As insurers take business intelligence and predictive analytics to the next level of sophistication, this new information and these new insights are rapidly becoming the basis for competitive differentiation. Advances in technology are enabling collaboration, real-time action and reaction, event-driven triggers, and self-learning—all delivering operational servicing and risk management capabilities that would have been beyond our imagination only a few years ago. While many people enjoy following the mascots or spokesmen of a number of prominent insurers, it's a fair bet that they will find more value in a tweet, Facebook post, or text message that saves them time or money and helps them avoid or reduce their losses.

Convergence Power
Every insurer will find value in mobile communications, social media, and analytics as distinct technologies, but their integration can translate into a new kind of marketing and claims-management power. Imagine the policyholder who files a claim along with photo evidence of the loss and finds his claim evaluated and paid—all electronically—within hours. That could be made possible with the use of deep analytics that connect weather data, location-based property data and images, electronically stored contents inventories, and replacement cost information. Payment could be made via electronic funds transfer, and confirmation could be made through a computer-transmitted receipt. It's really a matter of insurers taking advantage of all that's already out there and establishing secure networks with the robust use of data and analytics.

Integration is breaking new ground in catastrophe management. As high-impact weather approaches an area, insurers are able to use analytics to identify which policyholders are at risk or have already been hit with a calamity, send notifications to mobile devices via text messages, and deliver updated status information via Twitter and Facebook—to both adjusters and policyholders. The combination enables the insurer to proactively control the post-catastrophe response on both its end and that of the insured. When online access to the entire community of adjusters and vendors is incorporated, catastrophe claims management efficiencies will skyrocket and loss-cost severity will be contained.

Policyholder expectations are already outpacing insurer processes. It's time to catch up and ride the tide of technology integration. The effort will pay huge dividends in the years to come.
Karen Furtado is a partner with Strategy Meets Action (SMA). For more information, e-mail kfurtado@strategymeetsaction.com or visit www.strategymeetsaction.com.


Karen Furtado is partner at Strategy Meets Action and an expert in insurer core systems, including claims. She has been a CLM Fellow since 2014 and can be reached at (978) 239-2741, kfurtado@strategymeetsaction.com, www.strategymeetsaction.com.

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