Susan Johnston is managing director of financial services at Accenture Canada.

Susan Johnston

What were the key findings of the recent report Technology Vision for Insurance 2019?

Johnston: Our latest Technology Vision for Insurance 2019 report found that insurance companies are now focused on how they can shape the world around people and select the right moments to offer their products and services to customers; because every moment represents a market of one.

Among other prevalent findings from this year’s report are how consumer demand for customization and real-time services drives insurers to innovate and adopt leading-edge technologies, as well as how innovation has led to the development of large networks of partners, and this interconnectedness creates more risk for all involved.

How can industry leaders move beyond gathering data and turn to artificial intelligence to improve forecasting?

Johnston: AI already plays a critical role in optimizing processes and augmenting strategic decision-making in the industry. As leading insurers look to improve forecasting through AI, they must first adapt technology strategies to support a new way of working in the post-digital age and align those capabilities to specific business value related to for example, prediction of risk, mitigation strategies and anticipate customer outcomes. Re-imagining how to bring the best of information and AI together for tangible outcomes.

How difficult is it for companies to embrace new technologies?

Johnston: The adoption of new technologies varies for every insurance business, as they are all at different points in their organizational lifecycle. In the case of adopting DARQ (distributed ledger technology, AI, extended reality, and quantum computing) technologies for example, the first wave of insurance companies using these technologies to drive differentiation is already here, and 93 per cent of insurance businesses are already experimenting with one or more DARQ technologies.

How can companies improve customer engagement?

Johnston: As technology-driven interactions create an expanding technology identity for every consumer, companies need to tap into their customers’ digital demographics to deliver hyper-personalized, on-demand services that meet the specific needs of those customers.

For example, North American life insurance company John Hancock offers life policies that track customers’ fitness and health data through wearable devices. The results?

While the average customer with a traditional insurance plan engages with their life insurance company once or twice per year, policy holders on the Vitality program engage with John Hancock nearly 600 times per year. This helps build customer loyalty and satisfaction.

What role does social media play in all this?

Johnston: As outlined in the 2019 Fjord Trends report, rather than companies being big, bold and noisy, to avoid being ignored – or worse, abandoned – they need to pipe down.

Years of organizational investment in innovation have left customers feeling inundated and overwhelmed, straining the demands on our time and attention. Whereas once we craved the novelty, excitement and instant gratification, we now crave more quiet and meaning in a noisy world.

In the case of social media specifically, companies need to be sensitive to this by only using it in the context of the client value proposition, so it’s seen as a value-add rather than intrusive.

Susan Johnston was interviewed by Mario Toneguzzi, a Troy Media business reporter based in Calgary.

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