Celent Innovation & Insight Day Preview

Celent Innovation & Insight Day Preview
Celent’s Innovation and Insight Day is about a month away, and everyone at Celent couldn’t be more excited. We have great external speakers bookending the day, and we’ll be exploring exciting technology implementations with 15 Model Insurers in five categories (plus Celent’s Model Insurer of the Year):
  • Digital and Omnichannel
  • Legacy and Ecosystem Transformation
  • Data Mastery and Analytics
  • Innovation and Emerging Technologies
  • Operational Excellence in Non-Core Systems and IT Management
Our first speakers, Betsy Hubbard and Debra Jasper, are from Mindset Digital, an online social media training firm. As financial firms grapple with their approaches to social media, Betsy and Debra’s perspective, delivered in a completely different style than what most banks are used to, will provide ample food for thought and some concrete next steps. Celent analysts will be presenting research throughout the day as winners are announced and cases are discussed.  Jamie MacGregor will also offer his perspectives on the state of innovation within the industry as well as where he sees the industry moving over the next few years. Ending the insurance day will be Rod Willmott, Innovation Director at LV=, one of UK’s largest insurers and the third largest motor insurer.  Listen as Rod discusses how LV= established a “Fast Track Innovation” process to facilitate rapid responses to business needs and to accelerate strategic business objectives that were previously considered too challenging or costly to consider. Registrations are running well ahead of last year, and our Carnegie Hall venue may well get to Standing Room Only (although you won’t be able to buy tickets at TKTS on Monday morning). We hope to see you there on March 23rd; to learn more and to register, please visit our I&I day site. model insurer logo

On the cusp: regional integration in Asia

On the cusp: regional integration in Asia
It’s 2015, the mid-point of the decade and a good time to start looking at major trends in Asian financial services over the next five to ten years. One of the major themes will be regional integration, which is another way of saying the development of cross-border markets. There are at least two important threads here: the ongoing internationalization of China’s currency, and the development of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in Southeast Asia. RMB internalization is really about the loosening of China’s capital controls and its full-fledged integration into the world economy. And everyone seems to want a piece of this action, including near neighbors such as Singapore who are vying with Hong Kong to be the world’s financial gateway to China. The AEC is well on its way to becoming a reality in 2015, with far-reaching trade agreements designed to facilitate cross-border expansion of dozens of services industries, including financial sectors. While AEC is not grabbing global headlines the way China does, we see increasing interest in Southeast Asia among our FSI and technology vendor clients. From Celent’s point of view, both trends will open significant opportunities across financial services. In banking, common payments platforms and cross-border clearing. In capital markets, cross-border trading platforms for listed and even OTC products. In insurance, the continued development of regional markets. Financial institutions will be challenged to create new business models and technology strategies to extract the opportunities offered by regional integration. It’s the mid-point of the decade, and the beginning of something very big.

Model Insurer Asia Summit: A quick overview

Model Insurer Asia Summit: A quick overview
Earlier this month, I attended the Model Insurer Asia Summit at the Fullerton Hotel in Singapore.  With approximately 50 delegates from across the APAC region, it was a fantastic event to learn from others, debate the key issues facing the industry, and network across the region. A total of 18 firms were recognised this year from over 8 countries, with entries ranging from large regional technology transformations through to novel uses of technology to enable propositions. Tokio Marine presented just one such novel use of technology to enable a proposition where an app-based avatar is employed to provide health advice for women based upon how their body is feeling in support of a health insurance product.  This solution goes as far to include tracking the insured’s body temperature using a smartphone and a connected thermometer in order to identify when they may be coming down with an illness.  I just love this idea!  After talking about the potential for personal telemetry within the health insurance sector for several years now within Celent, it’s great to see a live proposition racing towards it.  Since its launch in June 2013, Tokio Marine has added 250,000 users already. The overall Model Insurer Asia winner was awarded to Max Bupa Health Insurance (MBHI) from India.  Being a relatively new player in India at around four years old, MBHI had aggressive plans to launch new distribution channels whilst not losing sight of delivering an excellent customer service experience. It chose to implement a BPM solution to wrap around its existing applications, enabling it to deliver a consistent end-to-end process that achieved a 75% increase in processing capacity and 90% improvement in service level agreements.  This is a great example of how, when applied effectively, technology can truly deliver a differential business performance. To find out more about these (and the 16 other finalists), a copy of the Model Insurer Asia report can be downloaded by Celent clients at http://www.celent.com/reports/celent-model-insurer-asia-2014-case-studies-effective-technology-use-insurance. Finally, this year, we sandwiched the summit between two roundtable discussions: one on the use of digital and ‘big data’ to enable innovation in insurance; and the other one on regional distribution opportunities and challenges.  Round-table discussions of this nature are always a great way to get detailed insights around the main challenges facing firms quickly.  Unfortunately, I can’t share too much as they’re closed sessions and “what’s said in the room, stays in the room”.  However, what I can share with you is that many of the opportunities and challenges facing individual firms across the Asian region are shared with insurers from around the world.  There is a growing desire to provide a more engaging proposition with the end client, a need to secure new forms of distribution, and an acceptance that effective technology is at the heart of future business performance.  Sound familiar?  That said, unlike perhaps some other geographic regions, regional diversity in distribution, regulation, population prosperity, language, character set, and political goals, make it more difficult for insurers, vendors and SIs / consultancies to navigate with a ‘one size fits all’ policy.  It’s this diversity coupled together with the regional growth rates for emerging financial services that make the region one of the most fascinating to follow and one that we expect to see a lot more innovation come out over the coming decade.

2014 Latin America Outlook

2014 Latin America Outlook
The following text was published today in Inter-American Dialogue’s Financial Services Advisor under the title: “What is driving the insurance market in Latin America?” I provided my view to FSA in advance, and now that it is out there I thought it made sense to share it with you through our blog. Growth continues to be a common theme throughout the region, though not at the same pace that before and not equally in all countries. The Pacific Alliance countries have been growing faster than Mercosur countries, for example. Insurance in Latin America has its own dynamics and has been growing year over year, even beyond GDP increase, and is expected to continue this trend through 2014. A growing middle class is driving insurance buoyance in the region, with Brazil much setting the tone. Estimates indicate that 40M people have gone from living in poverty to the middle class in the past decade in Brazil. Nevertheless, there is a large number of people in the base of the pyramid (BoP) which is also of interest of insurers. Infrastructure investments, trade, and group life and benefits to attract employees are key drivers for commercial insurance growth. We are seeing moves towards consolidation in certain countries which are imposing stronger capital requirements and also acquisitions and new entrants into high growth potential markets, such as Brazil, Colombia and Peru. Competition is increasing and new segments are being targeted with more focus. All this is driving higher investments from insurers as well as competition for qualified talent in the marketplace. Some countries are moving towards a stricter risk-based capital measurement, and the rest should move in the same direction as part of a global and regional trend. In many countries sales practices are far from innovative and what customers expect to be. There is a need to evolve in the use of distribution channels and provide a better customer experience. Most insurers are still tied to legacy systems that impose a burden to become more competitive, efficient and smart. Rising inflation, weakening of financial market due to lower quality of loans (as they compete for the raising middle class); lower demand of products from China (mostly commodities), Europe and USA, and risk aversion from foreign investors are some of the concerns shadowing the region’s potential.

Customer segmentation, fad or future?

Customer segmentation, fad or future?
Traditionally insurers have been structured by line of business and some have grouped those around personal lines and commercial lines to differentiate businesses from people. With the opportunities of varied distribution channels and more sophisticated technologies insurers are starting to be much more granular in their view of the customers. Insurers have now the chance to move from their traditional top notch markets and be able to create an offering to attract the different segments. Some of these moves include Microinsurance targeting people in the base of the pyramid and Small and Medium Business (SMB) insurance products. Microinsurance products are being launched almost every month in different parts of Latin America. Most recently it was announced that Asomi and Redcamif will be launching an initiative in El Salvador with life insurance policies written by Pan American Life Insurance Group (Palig) with premiums as low as $0,68 per month. Some brokers, large ones, are moving into the SMB market but using its affinity platforms instead of their commercial platforms to support this business. While originally SMB should have fallen into commercial, they realize that it requires processes and the agility expected also in their affinity business. In another interesting move, Metlife Mexico announced yesterday the creation of a new division that will sell to socio economic segments C and D and to young people, those that are not the usual target of insurers. According to the classifications developed by AMAI, a Mexican association, the country’s population is divided into five segments: AB (people with high purchasing power and income), C+ (people with higher-than-average incomes, whose families are headed by someone with a college degree and have at least two cars), C (people with middle incomes, whose families are headed by someone with a high school degree and have both a car and the ability to take one trip per year), D+ (people with incomes slightly below average, some secondary education and no family vehicle), D (people with low income levels and a fairly austere way of existence, who have a primary school education and who lack access to traditional banking services). Metlife Mexico will be offering simple and flexible products while also developing better distribution channels, with emphasis in the use of technology. Software vendors are coming in also to provide solutions towards being more granular. Solutions around analytics to better understand your customer, digital to better serve them and master the points of contact, core processing and BPM to adjust your products and processes accordingly, just to mention a few. Last year Guidewire presented its vision on how a core system will be able to support customer segmentation already delivering some required functionality. Core systems are just another gear in the engine and it’s important that vendors acknowledge how they need to integrate into other solutions for the insurer to be able to deliver a customer segmented value proposition. While I believe customer segmentation is where the industry needs to go, it is not without huge challenges. Insurers need to address the differences and purchase attitudes of those different segments.  Omni-channel is one of the aspects, but also dealing with channel conflicts and regulation. Products need to be tailored in a way that can be flexible but capable of scaling massively, and this means looking into pricing, packaging, marketing, distribution and servicing. Processes need to be adjusted in order to provide the correct value to each segment. At the end of the day you don’t want to be perceived as under-performing and not providing the required value, but neither you want to over deliver if this means excess of cost and important cuts in your margins. My final thoughts for you. How will your structure look as you move into serving segments? How will this affect reporting and statistics by the way, which today is seen by line of business (even by regulators)? Are you ready? Are we ready?

12 Free Gifts from Celent

12 Free Gifts from Celent
Reprising last year’s 12 Gifts of Celent on 12/12 I thought it was worth looking at free gifts offered, namely the most popular posts from 2013 on this very blog. I’ve gone for most popular blogs or blog sets by page views, which of course favours the older blogs because they’ve had longer to accumulate the views, but let’s work with this data anyway. It’s been a busy year and it’s not done yet, but here are some useful discussions you may yet have missed. So in the style of a new years top 10 count down, here are Celent’s top 12 blog posts: In at number 12 is a new entrant (well, a recent post) musing on the sentiments from ACORD’s Insurance Technology Congress in London this year. There was a sense that attitudes towards technology change even in some of the oldest parts of the global insurance industry were thawing, boosting optimism that useful, quick change was achievable. At number 11, a new years post asking how the insurance industry should respond to the growing openness in government departments and the availability of ever more data. At number 10, not the UK’s Prime Minister, but clearly as important, a write-up of Celent’s initial UK CIO Roundtable discussing technology in the workplace and innovating with suppliers. Innovation proves a popular subject in the top 10. As we enter the home straight of single digits at number 9, fast followers also have work to do. Celent’s Mike Fitzgerald observes, from conversations at IASA this year that even if a company chooses not to be the innovator, there are challenges in following the right innovations effectively. A number 8 the theme stays with innovation, this time looking at the role of mobile technology – particularly in emerging markets. A change of subject at number 7; we discuss balancing domain expertise, delivery capability and technology in new insurance core systems. Back to innovation at number 6 with a discussion on what it takes to become a Chief Innovation Officer. Is this the new role for a CIO? Something the CEO does? An adjacent role or something different? A look at what’s involved and some pointers for further reading. Topping the final 5 we continue the discussion started last year on the end of auto insurance with a look at the work of others. Although it’s not in the top 12, another blog on the subject from Donald Light is available here. Donald argues that the key variable is “when”. At number 4 we discuss social data and specifically, realising the ROI of social media. A longer post supported by a report in our library on the same topic. The second runner up at number 3 is our write up of Creative Disruption London, some great disruptive case studies from around the globe. While it was perhaps too recent to make it into the top 12 it’s worth revisiting the write-up and content from our event in  San Francisco, “What’s next: The Search for Disruptive Innovation” and the roundtable the night before – Making Innovation Happen. Number 2 is actually a collection of blogs chronicling the consolidation of the market in 2013, including Insurity and AQS, Guidewire and Millbrook and, SAP and Camillion. And finally, the moment you’ve all been waiting for or just skipped straight ahead to (it is a blog after all), our number 1 is: Innovation – What can the insurance industry learn from Steve Jobs and Apple? some views and actions from Celent’s own SVP of Insurance, Jamie Macgregor. So there you are. One not on the list that I thought worth highlighting was SaaS Policy Administration Systems: The Time Is Now, because it is a thought to take into 2014. If I missed one you particularly liked do let me know. Maybe I can find a home for that too. Happy Holidays from Celent!

Microinsurance as a Disruptive Force

Microinsurance as a Disruptive Force
Some of you may be familiar with Michael Raynor’s work around disruption. In his latest book he refers to being deliberately disruptive and how most companies that disrupt powerful incumbents start out focused primarily and often exclusively on connecting with a specific segment of the market, one that is poorly served — or not served at all. The microinsurance market is, with no doubt, an excellent source of innovation for insurers. It matches perfectly with the underlying conditions required for disruption to occur. Microinsurance is a foothold to an underserved, untapped, and fragmented market with a high cost to serve under the present business model. Innovative approaches to serve this market, including the required technologies, could afterwards be used with success upmarket, where insurers could benefit from agility, scalability, low operating costs, and the lessons learned by servicing a market with totally different dynamics. Innovation around product, pricing, packaging, distribution, processes, and technology, just to mention a few aspects, will be required skills. A good example is Bradesco Seguros in Brazil. Bradesco offers Accidental Death through a product named “Primeira Proteção Bradesco” which sold 1.3 million policies within the first year with monthly premium of US$3.50, single benefit of RS.20,000.00 and 1 monthly sweepstake of RS.20,000 (US$ 10,800). In fact, sweepstakes are an important marketing tool; apparently the most important motive for customers in buying the insurance product.  Distribution is done through Banco Bradesco’s own network of +3,500 branches, +25,000 banking correspondents (supermarkets, pharmacies, grocery stores, etc.) and mobile (sms). For those cities and villages close to the Amazon River, accessible only by boat and out of Banco Bradesco’s traditional network, it required technological support and some inventive: Banco Bradesco introduced a boat containing a bank branch. Technology, such as web/mobile on.iBusiness and traditional POS, is used by agents and correspondents to manage the complete end-to-end process. Focus in simplicity and speed using an accelerated enrollment process by capturing customer data from the CPF or Social Security number. Banco Bradesco has years of experience financially serving the segment market aimed by microinsurance and they are taking advantage of this, though they encountered some more challenges you can read about, along with more real cases and in depth discussion around Microinsurance, in our recent report “Microinsurance in Latin America: Disruption in Practice” at http://www.celent.com/reports/microinsurance-latin-america-disruption-practice

The turn for Brazilian IT companies to march upstream?

The turn for Brazilian IT companies to march upstream?
Most of the discussions around the potential of Latin America are related to how insurers can take advantage of a relative immature market, with a growing young population and increasing wealth and investment. The other side of the coin is how vendors can take advantage of a more attractive market as insurers interests grow in the region. You might not all be aware that there was a booth in the exhibit hall at recent Acord Loma trade show showcasing some Brazilian IT companies such as i4PRO which is starting its internationalization program, others such as Stefanini which already has presence beyond Brazil and other that are just in the initial phase of feasibility analysis for their internationalization programs. The offering of the Brazilian IT companies is based on a large and developed internal market that stimulates the generation of creative solutions and a talented human capital pool, that will enable them to compete in more mature and larger marketplaces. In this initiative they have the support of SOFTEX. Founded in 1996, it is the Association for the Promotion of Brazilian Software Excellence, which is priority program from Brazil´s Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI). The focus of this program is the development of markets and the sustainable expansion of the competitiveness in the Brazilian Industry of Software and IT Services. This program has a nationwide scope and comprises SOFTEX itself coordinating a broad network of Regional Agents with around 2,000 software and IT services companies. These companies receive support through a series of initiatives conceived and executed by SOFTEX. Among these actions and projects deserve special mentioning: PSI-SW (Exports); MPS.BR (Best Practices); PROSOFT (Funding); PAEMPE (Best Practices) and Observatório SOFTEX (Qualified Information). Brazilian companies have another vital aid when aiming for internationalization: The Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) which has played a fundamental role in stimulating the expansion of industry and infrastructure in the country. The BNDES also finances the expansion of national companies far beyond the borders of the country and seeks to diversify the sources of its resources on the international market. These market development initiatives, that receive full attention from the government, are one of the reasons why Brazil is a leading case in the Latin American region not only as a receptor of foreign investment but also as a serious player in the global marketplace as they enable local companies to compete worldwide. While it will take some time until these companies can pose a serious risk to established North American players I would keep a close eye on them, especially considering the successful cases of Brazilian players in other industries that have gone the path of internationalization under similar programs.

Microinsurance evolution, a Latin American perspective.

Microinsurance evolution, a Latin American perspective.
Microinsurance is referred to the type of insurance that aims to the base of the pyramid (BoP) population, generally those ignored by mainstream commercial and social insurance schemes. It emphasizes the importance of understanding the needs, preferences and characteristics of this target group: the low-income household, the working poor and the under-served. Microinsurance has the potential to play a very important social and economic role by breaking the vicious circle of poverty and vulnerability that affects the low income segments of the population. It can also help local economies by redirecting funds to be invested into high-return/high risk assets, that otherwise would be allocated in low return investments or even kept without investing. The potential market for Latin America is estimated in 360M of people, and for many insurers it is a huge opportunity to position its brand in a population that eventually will demand more insurance products. When you look into these markets you can distinguish 3 clearly separate phases of evolution of Microinsurance:
  • Phase I: Easy products to administer, such as mandatory life insurance tied to micro-finance products.
  • Phase II: Products get more sophisticated providing more options and benefits, turning into voluntary schemes, usually based on health, life and funeral insurance type of products while adding distribution channels to reach a broader audience.
  • Phase III: More complex products with emphasize in adding value to customers and an extended network of multiple distribution channels.
Currently Microinsurance in Latin America is doing pretty well in Phase I and is walking through Phase II. The major challenge nevertheless resides in including more commercial oriented products which typically are developed in Phase III, such as index-based insurance products. Technology plays an important role in supporting microinsurance strategies as they require an innovative approach in areas such as product, rates, distribution, claims and collection. Agility, scalability and high volume-low cost processing are important features for insurers to consider in their supporting systems. In our experience most of insurers in the region struggle to obtain these features from their current systems and enabling those innovatives approaches, which by the way, are also desirable to serve the upper-income segment. Are your systems up to the task? Feel free to comment!

Are insurers ready for the milenial and Z generation? A Latin American perspective.

Are insurers ready for the milenial and Z generation? A Latin American perspective.
At corporate level we usually conceive and refer to technology focused on the internal use and how to reach to the outside world to provide better products, have more efficient value chains and improve service.  For example insurance portals or technologies that will improve call center performance. This conception has been very useful to the insurance industry enabling evolution and innovation. Let’s take the UK insurance market for example. The auto industry started mainly as broker based but then evolved into direct insurance. It got somehow more sophisticated with the segmentation of net-worth customers. In this sense, the use of technology has been usually seen as a support to the business, but more and more it is becoming a central part of the business model for many insurers, especially for those new and disruptive players. Following the UK example, the use of telematics and “pay as you drive” and “pay how you drive” type of insurance products has lately enabled disruptive models that also integrate internet, mobile and social media to deliver products and services. These insurers recognize the fact that consumers have incorporated technology into their daily lives and that they expect from insurers the same level of engagement and user experience they have with other players in other industries such as Apple and Amazon just to mention two. Computers are everywhere, in the office, at home, in our appliances, and electronic devices; even phones are now computers, and consumers are using them to interact with people and companies by web access, e-mail or social media. Mobility is a fact that insurers need to recognize as they deploy new technology driven strategies. A usual misconception is that emerging markets are behind most mature markets in terms of internet, social media and mobile usage. You might be surprised to know that Latin America for example:
  • Had 231M internet users in December 2011 (10% of the world internet population);
  • Had 145M Facebook users in April 2012 (18% of worldwide Facebook users), and
  • Had +500M mobile connections as from March 2010 (86% of the Latin American population)
As for smartphones, clearly of more interest for deploying self service capabilities for agents and upper income consumers:
  • Brazil has more smartphone users than France or Germany
  • Brazil and Mexico together have more smartphone users than Australia has inhabitants
  • Argentina smartphone penetration (24%) is better than in Germany
Latin American countries also present above-average usage patterns in many areas:
  • 65% of Mexican smartphone users search on their phones every day, compared to 57% in the U.S.
  • 90% of Argentine smartphone users use their phones to access social networks, compared to 63% in Japan
  • 29% of Brazilian smartphone users have changed their minds about a purchase while in a store due to research conducted on their phone, compared to 15% in Canada
Mobile is changing the way Latin American consumers interact with the world…
  • 57% of Brazilian smartphone users read newspapers or magazines on their phones
  • 73% of Argentine smartphone users check email on their phones every day
  • 81% of Mexican smartphone users watch video on their phones
 …Especially when it comes to shopping
  • 26% of Mexican smartphone users have made a purchase on their mobile
  • 45% Brazilian smartphone users have purchased on their computer after researching on their mobile
  • 82% of Argentinean smartphone users have researched a product/service on their mobile
Usage data and user behavior is indicating that engaging with consumers and stakeholders through the use of internet, mobile and social media makes sense. Though, our research shows that the priorities and investments by Latin American insurers in these areas are very low. There might be some isolated efforts, but no integral approach to embrace these technologies to provide an improved customer experience which could result in growth, retention and efficiency. This seems to be the time to start acting, unless the insurance industry in the region wants to wait and see if a disruptive outsider sets the new standard. Worth the risk?