[Column] Ashok Shah: Digital trends driving insurance in Africa
The past few months have seen digital becoming more integrated with industry sectors across Africa. But it is the data-rich environment of insurance that has especially benefitted from this with several trends emerging that impact on the effectiveness of its delivery in the continent, says Ashok Shah, Group CEO of APA Apollo.
Enter the omni-channel
One of the most significant of these is the move towards the omni-channel. But much like the paperless office, this has become one of those technology phrases that many believe will never happen. However, consumers today are naturally omni-channel. They research products online, recommend and talk about them with their friends and contacts on social networks, and purchase them either via mobile apps or at brick-and-mortar retail stores.
This integrated product approach points to the need for insurers to present customers with a range of options to engage. These can include text messages, emails, Web chats, telephones, and in-person discussions. And with artificial intelligence (machine-learning) rapidly becoming part of this environment, insurers have a variety of platforms to create a better omni-channel environment for customers.
By being able to use all these channels of communication, insurers will have a better all-round view of what the immediate customer priorities are. This will enable them to place new products in front of potential customers sooner and more directly than in the past as well as provide more bespoke offerings to existing customers.
Last year, Gartner stated that there will be 8.4 billion connected things in use by the end of 2017 with total spending on endpoints and services reaching almost $2 trillion. The market for this Internet of Things (IoT) clearly illustrates the new competitive fronts and partnership opportunities for insurers.
Already, leading technology and consumer electronics providers have a head start in engaging consumers via the likes of smartphones, tables, and appliances. All is not lost for insurers. We are seeing how telemetry data in vehicles and diagnostic data in pacemakers are used by some insurance companies and healthcare providers to customise premiums based on driver behaviour and even personal health.
With IoT devices generating significant data, fast-moving insurtechs have been quick to extract meaningful insights and use them for customised solutions. The more traditionally-minded insurance providers must follow suit as user expectations require this more tailored approach.
By understanding the near‐term value potential of initial data and technology investments, insurers can chart a clear and self‐funding course on their transformation journeys and become truly digital in their strategies, operations, and cultures.
With an array of innovation, the Kenyan insurance landscape has the potential for a sizable expansion of domestic market penetration. The country also presents a solid base for reaching other African markets, which in turn, will attract interest from further international investment.
Digital is charting the path for insurers in Africa. The success or failure of this will be governed by the willingness of the insurer to embrace this [digital] future.