Etymology Consulting partners with thought leaders from around the world to assist us in keeping a pulse on the insurance world at large. Jonathan Baker, an insurance industry thought leader throughout the United Kingdom and Europe for the last twenty years, attended the Insurance Innovators UK Conference in November on our behalf, and we are pleased to share his feedback and perspective on the event.
Jonathan: I was excited about this year’s (2022) Insurance Innovators Conference for a number of reasons. To begin with, this was the first conference since the end of the COVID lockdown that I managed to attend. Secondly, it was my first time participating in a conference without holding a corporate position. Finally, I was interested to see how much progress had been made since my last conference.
The choice of venue for 2022 was the remarkable QEII Conference Centre in Central London, which is a fantastic location that accommodated the multiple speaking halls and networking spaces required. You may ask, “Why is this important?” It’s important because conferences are offering more and more choice in how participants interact, providing multiple tranches of conversation as well as providing the space to meet new people and generate new business leads. Of particular note at this event was the Silent Disco approach to one of the event halls, which allowed a speaker to hold a session while networking meetings were held around the edges of the room.
The event saw over 100 speakers communicate with over 800 attendees across four stages, including a Diversity, Inclusion and Allyship networking breakfast. All sessions I attended were engaging, but a couple stood out, particularly that of Jonathan Roomer who discussed what makes YuLife different and that positive engagement with insurance does exist. I also enjoyed the Fireside chat with Chris Mullan from Eigen Technologies and Mattias Trostek from ICA Forsakring, where the honesty and straight forward speaking about hyper-automation was refreshing to hear.
Unfortunately, I was less impressed to hear many of the same solutions that were being promoted four to five years ago are still being discussed. Solutions for improving internal efficiency while generating greater customer satisfaction should be easy wins for insurers to grasp, yet their continued promotion suggests low adoption rates, despite the strong value proposition. Now, I accept that some reluctance for insurers to engage in this space could be down to the messaging/marketing by the Insurtech, but I also believe that the main reasons continue to be corporate politics, IT planning and execution regimes, a continuation of the build vs. buy argument and the “let someone try it first” attitude. There were glimmers of hope, though. Chris Woolnough, UK Managing Director at Assurant, gave a great speech about their restructuring process, understanding what tech was needed by speaking to the staff throughout the end-to-end process and incorporating it into the workflow, rather than simply replacing staff with automation. The results of this were compelling.
Here are my takeaways from the two days:
Everyone appeared to have embraced the need for customer engagement to be the driving force behind digital change and that sometimes (most if we are honest), the needs in this area are often better communicated from the front line rather than the boardroom. Furthermore, the key to securing market-leading digital adoption rates lies with creating both internal and external communities that promote and endorse its usage rather than seeing digitisation as a threat to their well-being or intrusive to their lives. Lastly, and this one should not be a surprise to anyone reading this, that data continues to be the key to unlocking a more customer-centric and sustainable digital future.
I would like to thank Etymology Consulting for sponsoring my attendance to this conference. The work that Misha and her team are doing to break down these tech barriers is amazing, and I encourage anyone facing problems in this space to get in touch with her at firstname.lastname@example.org or LinkedIn.