Digitalisation for insurers

The modern insurer must be digitally savvy to address the needs of increasingly discerning customers, says Kelly Preston, digital manager at SilverBridge.

Johannesburg, 08 Jul 2019
Read time 3min 00sec
Kelly Preston, Digital Manager at SilverBridge.
Kelly Preston, Digital Manager at SilverBridge.

Insurance has long been associated with cumbersome, paper-based, manually driven processes. That is no longer good enough. The modern insurer needs to be digitally savvy to address the needs of increasingly discerning customers, says Kelly Preston, Digital Manager at SilverBridge.

“The move to digitalisation has been a long time coming. In the 90s, much focus was placed on the paperless office. While this sounded good in principle, the technology and organisational will were not advanced enough to realise this vision. Today, every business revolves around migrating to a digital environment that is not only more cost-effective, but also significantly more efficient,” she says.

Changing times

This is resulting in business requirements continually changing, adapting and realigning to market requirements. It is as much due to what customers want as it is to what sophisticated technologies, such as real-time data analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning, can enable the organisation to accomplish.

“While this is something that impacts all industries globally, banks and insurers are especially benefiting from digitalisation. South African banks have particularly led the change to embracing Internet banking, mobile apps, virtual assistants and a branchless environment. This is paving the way for others to follow and customise some of these practices to their own environments.”

Adapt or die

Insurers, for their part, are starting to become more sophisticated in how they digitalise their systems. The pressure they face from more agile insurtechs that are winning the increasingly growing younger market segment means they must shift from traditional systems to more modern ones.

“We have seen that the ones who identify the technologies that aid in the digital journey at an early stage will be the ones who can quickly integrate new product and service offerings quicker, thereby allowing for the much-needed competitive advantage over those who do not.”

This is as much about delivering customer value as it is about unlocking new revenue streams.

By eliminating paper-based approaches and reducing costs, the insurer can pass on those savings to customers who are then more likely to stay with them as opposed to migrating to the newer fintechs. This environment is all about leveraging tools such as smartphones and apps to deliver increased value in line with what end-users are demanding.

Intelligence done differently

“With insurers having real-time access to customer data, they are in a better position to understand where the elements of the value chain can be enhanced for the most returns. Ultimately, everything from applications and claims management to underwriting will be digitally transformed. However, the process must start with the fundamentals,” she says.

Even though the temptation is to remain focused on customer-facing solutions, insurers must also apply this digitalisation to the back-end systems that drive the organisation.

“The insurer must reinvent itself for a digital environment from within its core. This is not to say everything must be ripped and replaced, but there are areas where fundamental changes must occur before the ‘sexier’ technologies of artificial intelligence and machine learning can be fully integrated. This all comes down to how data is managed inside the business and what processes exist to optimise its analysis as it becomes less about paper-driven admin and more about digitised processes,” she concludes.

SilverBridge

SilverBridge has over 20 years’ experience as a leading provider of insurance software solutions in the African financial services industry. Our footprint extends to 14 African countries. SilverBridge has introduced an enhanced service offering allowing financial services companies the opportunity to respond quickly to changing markets. With customers throughout Africa, SilverBridge has the knowledge, experience, and technology to help its clients do better business.

Editorial contacts
Gloria Malan (+27) 82 340 2876 gloria@rubicomm.co.za
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