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January 04 2016 | Deb Smallwood

2015 was an eventful and significant year for the insurance industry. What we have all experienced this past year in terms of decisions, investments, and developments are vastly different than we have ever seen, heard, or felt before in insurance. Many will pinpoint 2015 as a pivotal year – the turning point in the transformation of the business of insurance. External influencers and rapid technology advancements are resulting in major shifts in strategy, areas of focus, and investment. Many insurers are thinking big – beyond the typical step change and toward bold moves that will establish them as leaders in the digital age.

As SMA reflects on this past year – it is worthwhile to take notice on the top 10 trends that laid the foundation for this pivotal year and positioned the insurance industry for an amazing 2016 and the years beyond. The trends are dominated and enabled by technology developments, which continue to be interwoven into the fabric of insurance. The trends are as follows:

  1. Digital transformation is taking hold, even in insurance
  2. Innovation and innovative thinking - no boundaries.
  3. Huge $dollars$ being poured into startups and insurance
  4. New ecosystems emerging
  5. Distribution channels are under strain, new shifts in investments
  6. Core modernization is required, continues to consume insurers
  7. Positive shift in customer focus and priority
  8. Embracing new tools, data, and models, but still a struggle to adopt
  9. Many technologies maturing and being adopted – cloud, analytics…
  10. Tech advancement still outpacing the ability to consume

Insurance executives can no longer ignore or downplay these trends. Although the terms disruption and transformation are popping up everywhere, they are no longer buzz words, but reality. It would be a mistake to dismiss the magnitude of these shifts. As one senior industry executive put it, “our industry will be substantially different five years from now. Companies that do not aggressively transform will be at risk of failing.” This view is shared by many industry leaders who sense that the tide is shifting in the new digital era. Unfortunately, many others are hoping to ride out the rest of their career without driving new change, an approach that is risky.

These trends are not to be taken lightly; they are the reality of today in insurance. Insurers that recognize and embrace these trends will be positioned for success. But the journey will not be easy. The mandate is to create strategies with these trends in mind and accelerate strategic initiatives and investments to win in the emerging new insurance industry.

The full research brief describing the trends is located here.