How 'foundational' techs spur insurance transformation

Nowadays, transformation is a top buzzword in the insurance world. But beyond the buzz, it reflects what is happening in the insurance industry today – as a whole and within each company. It turns out that there is a lot going on in the commercial lines sector. According to recent SMA research, half of P&C insurers state that their company is in “transformation mode.” These insurers will be the leaders that are reshaping the industry as they position themselves for further success.

SMA has just released a new research report, Foundational Technologies in Commercial Lines Insurance: Investment, Adoption, and Business Areas. The report investigates the state of the foundational technology landscape in commercial lines insurance (those technologies that insurers have been investing in for decades, for example, technologies that support or enhance BI, core transformation, new products and services, and workforce transformation).

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FILE: Electronic circuit boards from an International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) Z14 server rack sit on display at the CeBIT 2018 tech fair in Hanover, Germany, on Monday, June 11, 2018. IBM’s $33 billion purchase of Red Hat Inc. -- the world’s second-largest technology deal ever -- is aimed at catapulting the company into the ranks of the top cloud software competitors. Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

The report provides survey results on 26 foundational technologies, outlining investment levels, maturity, business area focus, and SMA trend analysis for these technologies that form the foundation upon which commercial lines organizations can drive transformation initiatives. In addition to an in depth look at each individual technology, SMA has also assembled an aggregate view of all the areas to get a sense of priorities and likely focus areas over the next 12-18 months. Together, the two views form a very useful means from which to gauge industry transformation progress.

SMA has termed these technologies foundational because the daily operations of the insurance company depend on automation in these areas. To be competitive today, the information, interactions, and transactions that support the full spectrum of customer acquisition and customer servicing require modern technology solutions. But these technologies are also foundational in another sense: additional systems and capabilities can be built upon them. New digital business capabilities and solutions must integrate with the foundational systems and related data.

A key takeaway from the report is that there is significant activity underway across all the 26 areas. Over half of the technology areas are garnering investment by over 80% of insurers and some by 100%! Commercial lines leaders clearly recognize the vital importance of these technologies and the need to invest in them. But they also realize that there will be challenges, and some of them are addressed in the report.

SMA will be conducting research and publishing a similar report on transformational technologies (such as AI/machine learning, the IoT, blockchain, wearables, augmented reality, and more) later this year. In the meantime, the companion to this report, 2019 Strategic Initiatives: P&C Commercial Lines, is available today and takes a close look at the drivers of change that influence insurer strategies and demand bold actions as insurers prepare for the future.

This blog entry has been reprinted with permission from SMA.

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