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Imperative November
Each year, Strategy Meets Action (SMA) defines the SMA Top 10 Imperatives for Insurers. We will be highlighting one of these imperatives each month.

Developed using SMA’s research and analysis, as well as the insight gained through direct experiences in working with insurance companies and solution providers throughout the insurance industry, this list encapsulates the “must haves” for insurers. 

These are the imperative actions that insurers should have at the top of their minds as they chart a course for the months and years ahead. Every one of SMA’s Top 10 Imperatives for Insurers is important to all insurers. However, the role they play and how critical they are to short-term plans will vary by company. 

Follow the 2015 Imperatives on Twitter - #SMATop10.



Implement Omni-Channel Capabilities

The omni-channel world seeks to fully integrate channels with real-time, seamless interactions, a single view of the customer, and brand consistency. The omni-channel concept has evolved from multi-channel operations in which the multiple channels were often not fully integrated. An omni-channel strategy must harmonize the wide range of channels shown in the diagram below and incorporate a number of elements, including consistent branding, real-time updates, channel transparency, customer awareness, and digital content harmonization. Transactions, documents, conversations, and other interactions should be exchanged between channels so that information never has to be repeated or rekeyed and the front line employee or system understands the context of the interaction. 

Imperative Omni Channel

In the insurance industry, there is a direct relationship between the experience of the customer and omni-channel capabilities, because the customer or agent experiences the insurer largely through those channels. A rich omni-channel environment optimizes the customer’s experience by effectively managing the many interactions across the marketing, sales, and service spectrum.  


Achieve Responsive Product Configuration

In today’s technology-enabled, connected world, customers are in the driver’s seat – expecting personalization and customization that meets their unique needs and preferences. Recognizing that product development and configuration capabilities are primary levers in driving differentiation, insurers are making serious investments to enable the quick development and rapid market delivery of more innovative products and product changes.


2015 09 Product

The leaders are gravitating toward solutions that provide for a holistic approach to managing change. They are capitalizing on new technologies plus data and analytics to ensure accuracy and profitability. Solutions can include policy administration systems with a product configuration viewpoint or product configuration engines that include rates, rules, and forms triggering. Efficient solutions that provide for easy retrieval and reuse are the common elements that will help insurers improve product implementation speed and increase accuracy. 


Innovate to Become a Next-Gen Insurer

Innovation is a must-have, strategic core mandate. In today’s hyper-connected, technology-driven digital world, those who experiment, innovate, collaborate, co-create, and challenge the status quo will gain competitive advantage. Winning requires letting go of legacies and traditions – turning to an ecosystem of relationships and resources, both internal and external, to rethink the possible, profit from the potential, and cultivate an innovation journey.  



Becoming a Next-Gen Insurer necessitates delivering new value. It requires creating an environment for agility, flexibility, creativity, and competitiveness while capitalizing on the unique expertise and strengths of the company. Next-Gen Insurers continually prepare for a constantly changing world – reimagining the fundamentals of insurance: the customer, insurance products and services, the infrastructure, and the business model. 



Capitalize on Analytics Across the Enterprise

There are many business intelligence and analytic technologies that can help insurers gain the insight needed to more effectively operate and manage the business. SMA’s BI and Analytics Spectrum (shown below) provides a good framework for developing strategies and plans and can be used to guide exploration of the possibilities. 


Big data overlays the entire intelligence and analytics spectrum, involving a much wider scope and variety of data. The hardware/software approaches for organizing big data are dramatically different from traditional methods, enabling massive amounts of data to be analyzed at breathtaking speeds. Big data analysis often uses the same proven tools – predictive models, text mining, statistical analysis, etc. But, new visualization technology and approaches that can leverage large amounts of unstructured data make it possible to get quick insights around profitability, fraud, and product.

Analytics can yield valuable new insights about customers, products, risk evaluation, operations, and much more. Insurers capitalizing on the power of analytics are able to accelerate growth and improve profitability by leveraging technologies across the enterprise.


Optimize Claims Beyond the Transaction

To accomplish the far-reaching claims transformation needed to be successful in the coming years, it is going to take more than just speeding up existing processes, streamlining transactions, and automating current behaviors. Success depends on finding new ways to deliver exceptional customer service, rethinking traditional assumptions, capitalizing on new business models, and more. Claims transformation and innovation require a real shift in thinking – a reevaluation of why, how, and where things happen and the discovery of new approaches to manage, service, and support the dynamic needs of the business and the customer.   

06 Claims

Mature claims management extends capabilities beyond simple modernization to embrace collaboration. Claims mitigation and prevention are improved through the integration of emerging technologies. Exceptional customer service – both personalized and proactive – becomes the norm. Omni-channel approaches offer the choices most often requested by customers. Analytics-driven intelligence provides optimum workload management and balancing. STP is maximized through insight. Catastrophe management is greatly improved with increased predictive awareness and the ability to respond proactively.


Drive Value Through Improved Customer Experience

The number one strategic initiative for North American insurers in 2015 is customer engagement. 85% of insurers are now investing in this area. One in five insurers say that improving the customer experience is the single most important driver of their business strategy.
There is an abundance of energy and action around customer experience in insurance. Some of it is due to the fact that consumers have technologies in their hands and expectations are being created by other industries. But the key point is that insurers are primarily focused on improving customer experiences because they see that the opportunities to drive value are enormous. 

05 Customer

There are many key influencers of the customer (or prospect or producer) experience, and they fall into several categories. Delivering customer experience excellence requires major initiatives that consider technology, process, and people in the context of a unified strategy.



Leverage Maturing and Emerging Technology

Technologies such as mobile, analytics & big data, cloud, collaboration, and telematics are having a big impact on the industry. These maturing technologies, along with the growing proliferation of emerging technologies including wearables, IoT, 3D printing, and more are proving to be some of the greatest change agents since the Internet. The result – change and disruption. Existing businesses are being challenged, and new ones are being created.

Maturing technologies are well past the tipping point. Many of the emerging technologies are projected to arrive at or go well beyond the tipping point within three years and all are expected to surpass it within five years.

emerging maturing

These emerging and maturing technologies perfectly position the insurance industry to rethink and reimagine the business of insurance. There are significant advantages to be gained and abundant new opportunities on the horizon.



Interconnect Intelligence for Underwriting

It is time to take underwriting distinction to the next level – time to drive more efficient business processes and enable more effective decisions. New levels of excellence are possible!

By capitalizing on maturing and emerging technologies and an abundance of rich information and powerful models, insurers can increase the sophistication of information and intelligence about both the risk and the customer. These insights deliver the power to make smarter, more informed, decisions.

Imperatives underwriting

Capability requirements extend beyond what a single solution can deliver. A modern underwriting platform facilitates easy integration with core systems, tools, spreadsheets, models, and data, as well as external data sources, making it easy to provide new insights and intuitive experiences for the underwriting process.



Execute on Core Transformation

imperative core

Change is the one dynamic that insurers must constantly address if they want to be successful.

Core transformation positions a company to thrive on change – to improve business processes, strengthen skills, and deliver competitive products and services with high market appeal. It is critical for insurers to adopt a modern architecture that delivers flexibility, agility, and scalability – one that facilitates easy integration with both current and emerging technologies and platforms.

The key is to equip the organization to ably handle the shifting service demands of changing distribution channels and to capitalize on the ever-expanding quantity of data and rich insights.



Create and Execute a Digital Strategy

Most insurers understand and accept the fact that winning in today’s hyper-connected, digital world requires a bold strategy and vision. Becoming a digital insurer is central to success. 

The challenge is to figure out how best to do it. Essential to making progress is creating a unified digital strategy and then executing the plan. 

The key is to bring together strategies that might have been independently managed in the past and to embrace a digital strategy that encompasses all aspects of the business. 


digital insurer02