A change for the better

Many of the key players in the insurance industry met at The Ricoh Arena today for the eighth I Love Claims Motor Claims Conference, when the marriage of human interaction with technologies such as social media, artificial intelligence (AI) and big data was a recurring topic.

Ant Middle, CEO Ageas Retail, highlighted the impact of technology by pointing to research that found that, thanks to social media and AI, 85% of US customers will manage relationships with businesses without human interaction by 2020.

He said, ‘If they’re willing to do that, we need to get a move on.’

However, he warned that the one-size-fits-all approach won’t work with customer service, in the near future, not defined by human interaction but by relevance, or the level and quality of choice available. It’s about relevance.

He said it was crucial to focus on what the customer actually wants: ‘They don’t think about a claim; they think about the predicament they’re facing. At Ageas, we don’t focus on claims management, but predicament management.’

On that front, he said human involvement  remained invaluable, although the claims process itself could soon be the preserve of technology, with better use of big data helping insurers to understand what customers want, and managing risk.’

Ant said, ‘We need to – and we are – focusing on technology to its full potential. But the more we think about technology in the future of claims, the more we need to think about the role of human beings as well.’

Meanwhile, Dan Whitmarsh, global chief strategy officer, M/six, examined the future of shared mobility, describing it as ‘the single biggest driver of change in transport.’ He said, ‘When Uber turned up, car manufacturers were pretty disinterested. They thought it was a disrupter to taxis. But rapidly they learned this was a big disrupter in ownership.’

Dan said three factors are working together to deliver shared mobility: autonomy and AI; electrification; and the smartphone. While interesting in and of themselves, it’s how and when they converge that is the real x-factor in the future of transport. He recalled a number of separate studies that all identified 2020/21 as the date that’s meant to happen.

‘There’s no doubt change is coming, particularly at the younger spectrum.’

However, ‘carmageddon’ will mean different things in different parts of the world. He identified three key environments that will all demand different things from mobility in the future: Mega cities in developing countries (Mexico City, Mumbai); cities surrounding by sprawling suburbs (Los Angeles, Birmingham); and affluent, compact super-cities (Tokyo, London).

For the first category, autonomy won’t be the answer as their main focus is clean air and safety, meaning electrification and shared mobility are likely to more viable solutions.

That’s not the case in sprawling cities, however, where the number of separate destinations make mass transport and shared mobility less suitable. Instead, autonomy and electrification are more apt as, said, Dan, ‘the number of vehicles in these cities is only going to go up, not down.’

In the large, developed super-cities, though, all three components are expected to converge in a way that completely changes the very appearance of inner-cities with far fewer vehicles. Dan pointed to Tokyo as a city to watch, which is already blurring the lines between private and public transport and, with the Olympics coming in 2020, is likely to receive an extra adrenaline shot of investment.

However, in all three examples, Dan predicted that the converge of these three things would have five key effects: fewer accidents – ‘You don’t need full autonomy for this to happen. Incremental benefits will have a massive impact on the number of accidents.’; question marks over maintenance with electric vehicle batteries still unable to meet all transport demands; a reduction in the used car market; significant change to infrastructure with fewer inner-city cars; and data becoming the new oil.

On this last point, he said that the question would be about who owns the data on the customer while they’re in transit. ‘It doesn’t matter what market you’re in, or what category you’re in – fear Amazon. The reason is they were built in the age of digital and built to handle their own data. If you don’t have a heritage in managing your own data, someone like Amazon will come in and take your lunch.’

Among the other topics of discussion, Paul Wishman, vice president, CGI, said that while 800,000 jobs had already been lost to AI in the UK, it had also created 3.5 million. He said that technology such as this was more an opportunity than a threat, referencing the research that found that by 2032 65% of the jobs that today’s school children will do don’t exist yet.

For example, he continued, the last decade underlined the number of new job opportunities that can be created by technology – such as app developer, social media manager, cloud computing speciality, big data manager, sustainability manager, drone operators…

The resonating message from the Ricoh Arena was that change is always a challenge, but with the right attitude and a willingness to move with the times, that challenge could be met and the change could be made into a change for the better.