We attended both DigIn and IASA insurance conferences this year and gained insight into upcoming trends in the industry.
The conference season is in full swing for the insurance industry. We just returned from a couple of high profile, back-to-back insurance conferences out west, DigIn (Austin) and IASA (Phoenix). Both provided valuable insights into the state of our industry.
The DigIn conference in Austin felt entrepreneurial. Sessions, attendees, and speakers focused on emerging technologies and corresponding solutions. Similar to InsurTech in general, there were many discussions around use cases for Robot Process Automation (RPA), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and blockchain.
Conversations focused on specific problems primarily within claims and underwriting processes. A broader industry discussion continues on the startup journey and general uncertainty around how InsurTech solutions fit in the big picture.
- Data and analytics progress as a significant focus as both targeted analytics solutions as well as full warehousing solutions. A future challenge for carriers is integrating these solutions into their broader data strategy and approach.
- RPA is on a rapid growth path. Tools are getting more robust, and the entry barrier is getting smaller. Leveraging RPA to address micro-processes remains the trend. In this way, we achieve gains one-by-one versus an enterprise approach. They highlighted several claims and underwriting RPA processes.
- Blockchain continues evolving at a slow pace. The industry began aligning on use cases and ways to apply blockchain. Using blockchain for transparency and simplifying processing in shared transactions across multiple parties remains a rising trend. Achieving this transparency and simplification requires cross-company collaboration. We haven’t seen many applications of the technology within single carriers yet. The need for industry-wide collaboration continues to be the determining factor for the speed at which this technology matures.
- AI continues advancing as a major focal point in InsurTech. Tapping into vast data sources has tremendous potential. In addition to several solutions targeting pain points throughout the value chain (more commonly in claims and underwriting), the conference marked an increase in the number of solutions leveraging cloud computing capabilities to leverage public and social media data in their models effectively.
- Integration is an emerging theme, which InsurTech may fully adopt moving forward. Many InsurTech solutions provide useful technology approaches for specific business problems within the Insurance Value Chain. For carriers to adopt these solutions, they need to address how these solutions integrate into their overall processes. Since most of the solutions target specific processes within claims and underwriting, integration to core systems, and an understanding of the whole process is imperative for the vendors anticipating a successful outcome.
The IASA conference in Phoenix had a different feel. As an educational conference focused on financial and industry challenges, there is a general emphasis on the broader insurance value chain. The conference provided excellent keynote speakers looking at the overall industry.
It mixed traditional insurance business models with some of the emerging digital concepts introduced by InsurTech. Core systems, emerging carrier trends, and conversations about operating in a disruptive environment gave the conference an incumbent perspective the industry needs.
- They focused highly on data and analytics across the value chain. Core system vendors are expanding functionality, including data services to ease the consumption of core data in analytics, potentially creating a situation where carriers can’t include data from outside easily.
- The core system space is getting even more crowded. While there are still a few market leaders above the rest, walking the vendor floor at IASA showed how many choices exist in the core system landscape. Core and financial systems made up almost 60 percent of the vendors on the floor.
- The conference reformatted executive sessions this year, bringing all the execs into the same session and extending it to two days. This new setup allowed CFOs, CIOs, CEOs, and other leaders to share different views on the same problems. The most common of these centered on adapting workplace culture to new norms. Like most industries, insurance struggles with figuring out the best way to foster a positive culture.
- As Insurtech dynamics continue to play out, reinventing business models is no longer a need creating a sense of urgency for carriers. The InsurTech startup space is gravitating toward point solutions and MGA type niche products. The focus lies more on collaboration with InsurTech versus wholesale change to stave off disruption. A noticeable them was white label opportunities and evaluating product strategies.
- A secondary focus for core system vendors was the integration of digital InsurTech solutions into core systems and processes. The core system vendors are unsure if the traditional strategy of growing their footprint versus a focus on ease of integration with targeted digital solutions is the right path. We saw a little bit of both, and we anticipate seeing how each philosophy progresses over the next year.
Overall, it was beneficial to attend both conferences, back-to-back to get multiple perspectives on some shared industry challenges.