Today's customers have been spoiled by the likes of web-oriented companies such as Netflix or PayPal, considerably raising the bar for more traditional providers, including insurance companies. Can insurers provide a seamless, across-the-board digital experience today akin to the new breed of service companies?

I recently had the chance to catch up with Alan Trefler, CEO of Pegasystems, and author of the soon-to-be-released book, “Build for Change: Revolutionizing Customer Engagement through Continuous Digital Innovation.”

“A large complicated company typically makes one of two mistakes,” Trefler remarks. “The tend to overbuild back-end ERP systems. And they tend to be organized around the data.... they would traditionally overbuild in the channel.”

Trefler, who has been working within the insurance sector for many years, defines digital as employing technology to support a comprehensive and consistent range of services to customers, across any and all touchpoints. “The customer never experiences silos,” he says. It's about streamlining, simplifying and providing customers visibility into the organization, he adds, “because that’s what this new generation of customers is demanding.”

There also are major shifts underway for insurers and other industries, Trefler continues. “The thing that digital does to businesses is, it enables to certain industries the disaggregation of selling and content. It means you don’t have to buy an album — you can just buy a song.”

The disaggregation of products extends to insurers as well, he adds, noting that it puts offering on a continuum from which customers can select and package products according to their needs. “It can make purchasing much more intimate. Certain things you could either not figure out or not afford to customize now can be really, really tuned and specialized to the needs of the buyer. They can be very selective about the benefits they want, how they trade off risk versus costs. These sorts of things can now be done along sort of an endless continuum, whereas as opposed to before, companies would have to offer just very specific price and risk points.” In the process, of course, increased digitization makes it easier for competitors to get onto the market.

You can catch more of Trefler's comments, including why “mobile-first” initiatives are misguided strategies, here.

Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Joe using the “Add Your Comments” box below. He can also be reached at joe@mckendrickresearch.com.

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The opinions of bloggers on www.insurancenetworking.com do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News.

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