Data-driven insurance distribution platform, Novidea, recently announced its partnership with global strategic consulting and managed services provider, Xceedance. Chief revenue officer at Novidea, Alex Zukerman (pictured), spoke with Insurance Business to discuss the partnership, which will see the combination its broker management platform with the insurance expertise and global presence of Xceedance, as well as the current role of broker technologies.
The partnership first came about as both companies operate in the insurance vertical and it was, therefore, almost inevitable that they would become familiar with each other, Zukerman said. He outlined how the broad understanding of the insurance industry shared by the organisations and their standing within the sector was important to the development of this affiliation. Also essential was the common ground in their shared philosophies regarding customer service and customer value, he said, as this led to the realisation that working together would help both the businesses and its end customers.
What this partnership will mean for Novidea’s broker management platform, he said, is that its implementation processes will be supported by the functional and technical expertise that Xceedance offers, helping it to onboard customers more efficiently.
“Seamless onboarding is a vital part in the overall customer experience as it greatly impacts the customer’s perception of the broker in terms of how easy it is to do business with them,” Zukerman said. “In a highly competitive market, seamless onboarding can be an important differentiator but at the same time, it is expected by customers. [This], along with customer engagement and a great level of service, is critical in today’s broking business.”
The customer demand for a smoother experience from brokers is a growing trend, he said, and one which he believes will continue. Zukerman outlined how customers are used to a streamlined user experience in certain sectors and are beginning to expect the same experience across all industries. As it stands, he said, changing providers is easier than ever before and a complicated onboarding process can drive potential customers away, while a seamless onboarding process encourages customers to join.
With many of years of experience in offering innovative solutions to the financial services sector in a variety of roles, Zukerman has a well-rounded insight into the sector and said that, while the insurance industry was initially behind the digital transformation curve, it is progressing rapidly.
“By learning from other markets,” he said, “the sector is moving to close the digital gap and be at the forefront of digital innovation, improving internal practices and interaction with customers as a result.”
The broker market is definitely starting to understand the value of new technology, Zukerman said, and is coming to realise that in order to be a successful insurance broker in 2020, it is imperative to embrace new technology. Brokers will benefit from technological developments such as deep analytics, digital engagement platforms, automation tools and the Cloud, he said, and he outlined how these will help brokers achieve better operational efficiency, better customer service and, subsequently, increased profitability.
Zukerman warned, however, of the dangers of using technology for technologies sake, stating that this will simply not produce results. It is crucial for brokers to utilise smart technologies which help them achieve business-related KPIs and targets, he said.
“Technology must directly contribute to the growth and success of the business and add value to brokers and their customers,” Zukerman said. “Ultimately, using the right technology will streamline the way in which brokers work by improving efficiency and overall pace.”
The insurance distribution process needs to change in three key areas, Zukerman noted. The first of these, he said, is that digitalisation needs to become an all-encompassing process, from interacting with customers on a true omnichannel platform to a seamless API-based interaction not only with customers but also with other insurance providers.
Secondly, he said, there needs to be a more customer-centric approach and the insurance distribution process must focus on the customer and provide a value-added service suitable for the digital world. Finally, Zukerman outlined the role of advanced analytics.
“Operational analytics will drive and advise the broker with every task and decision,” he said. “Using technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning will allow brokers to plan strategically and analyse portfolios with ease.”