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Balancing the risks and opportunities of technological innovation

Balancing the risks and opportunities of technological innovation | Insurance Business

Balancing the risks and opportunities of technological innovation

Insurance Business recently released its annual insurtech report which highlighted that, while the insurance industry has long been considered behind the curve when it comes to technological innovations, it is making up this gap with impressive speed. A recent report from NTT Data highlighted the direction of change that is occurring within the insurance space, and the level of concern from senior leaders in the London market regarding being left behind by modernisation.

Read more: The UK insurtech special report

As part of Travelers technology knowledge hub, the global insurer has highlighted the rapid developments precipitated by the increased demand for and uptake of digitally focused solutions in the insurance space. Meg Ryan, a technology underwriter at Travelers Europe, outlined that the technologies emerging now have the potential to transform life as we know it.

“New risks and ethical concerns are inevitable,” she said, “so as insurers we aim to drill down on the potential risks companies face, ask tough questions, and help pave the way for smooth innovation.”

Ryan detailed how the Accenture Technology Vision 2019 report indicated a change in the delays faced by major technologies when it comes to rate of market adoption. When mobile phones first hit the market, they took over 10 years to reach 50 million users, whereas the internet took seven years to reach this metric. Several years later, Facebook took four years to hit this number while WeChat took a year and Pokémon GO took approximately 19 days.

As rapidly as new technology reaches the public marketplace, consumers are keeping up with the pace. They are rapidly escalating the speed at which they are adopting those innovations which are designed to make their lives easier or more entertaining. This speed of adoption has been instrumental in placing consumers in the driver’s seat when it comes to the developments which offer them a valuable extension to the processes of their day-to-day lives.

“As a result, [consumers] are more particular about what they want,” Ryan noted. “To thrive, businesses must find ways to adapt and anticipate ways to deliver technology that becomes a critical part of people’s experiences – or lose out to competitors that do.”

Technology has become fundamentally embedded into the processes of organisations and industries throughout the world and this trajectory is unlikely to change direction or to slow in the foreseeable future. Ryan noted the findings of the World Economic Forum which revealed that the global market is facing a fourth industrial revolution in which, “scientific and technological breakthroughs are disrupting industries, blurring geographical boundaries, challenging existing regulatory frameworks, and even redefining what it means to be human.”

Successful innovation is about fulfilling a need that consumers may not know they have, and not just about improving on the technologies that came before. To anticipate the innovations which are coming down the pipeline, and to have a head start on how to embrace these innovations, there are several factors that must be considered in order to develop a timely tech strategy, including:

  1. Focusing on the wider implications of tech opportunities. Businesses must think beyond their own company and industry to embrace the wider merits and challenges introduced by digital innovations.
     
  2. Ensuring a continued emphasis on people. The next generation of tech leaders is likely to redefine the line between technology and the people that utilise technology. Businesses must understand the need to forget what they knew about customer expectations and strive to understand the tech-driven solutions and services of a thoroughly modern world.
     
  3. Accept what you don’t know. Not even the most up-to-date leader truly understands where the tech industry will go next. The advice offered by the Forbes Technology Council is for leaders to accept not always having the right answer and instead to be flexible and to continue asking questions.
     
  4. Anticipate needs and protect against risks. New technologies are continually creating innovative and life-altering opportunities but are also posing new risks and ethical concerns. While businesses must be open to the vast potential represented by technology, they must also be willing to assess the long-term implications of such solutions and examine the ethical risks which can be precipitated by such innovations.

To find out more about the latest tech insurance products available from Travelers, please visit the Travelers website.