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Maturing markets, tight capital, increasing risk.

These are just some of the pressures facing the insurance industry today. Clearly past approaches will no longer suffice. To meet these and other challenges, insurers will have to be more nimble, more innovative and better able to communicate with their customers, internally and within the industry. In short, they'll have to be smarter. Read more about what today's consumers want.

Through its work with hundreds of insurance companies, IBM has identified four areas of business that are critical for firms that want to transform to smarter insurance. Each of these areas also brings its own return, so companies can work on some or all, depending on their individual needs.

Making the complex simple at Westfield Insurance. Watch the video.Making the complex simple at Westfield Insurance. Watch the video.


 

Increase flexibility and streamline operations

Smarter technology must replace outdated IT systems so insurance leaders can make smarter decisions. By combining processes companies can increase efficiency, improve business flexibility and open up the full spectrum of business analytics benefits. See what Infinity Property & Casualty achieved.

Create a truly customer-focused enterprise

Successful companies have an institutional awareness of every customer interaction, from initial search results, to reading a review of an agent, to paying a bill. Insurers that are serious about getting closer to their customers focus on quality interactions not conventional channel development. They understand who the customer is (the insured, not the distributor) and work to build trust with that customer. Leading firms both adapt to changes in their customer base, such as graying in mature markets and broader channel expectations, and foresee new trends through smarter analytics. Analytics help Swiss RE identify profitable segments and respond appropriately.

Optimize multichannel interaction

Today's customers expect to see real-time status online, to reach call centers quickly and to engage with insurers via multiple media, including Facebook and Twitter. Offering more communications channels and providing customers with a consistent experience, in turn, leads to more satisfied customers. And satisfied customers mean more business and stable growth. Insurers must engage their customer wherever and whenever the customer chooses. Companies must also respond and adapt to changes in and around the customer base, such as demographic shifts, expectation of more ways to engage and mobile technologies. Reliance Life reaches out to rural Indians.

Optimize enterprise risk management

In the current financial uncertainty, smart insurers know it's critical to reduce their costs for risk monitoring, analysis and reporting. Smarter companies are investing in systems that integrate the most complex financial risk analytics . And industry leaders are going beyond compliance reporting and moving toward a holistic approach to risk management that links finance and risk performance to help make better decisions. Unum builds a better risk management framework.

Predicting and improving process outcomes

The need to drive business performance and increasing competitiveness is leading to many initiatives that aim to satisfy today’s informed and demanding customers, while protecting and improving the bottom line. What if we could predict outcomes based on process variables we can collect data on? What if we could improve our business processes so that service is seamless yet costs are contained? There is a tendency to examine these types of questions in isolation from each other. The results of an IBM proof of concept in the insurance industry suggest that much more could be gained by considering them together.


 

Infinity Property  & Casualty used analytics   to “score” claims just as lenders score credit.  That approach  helped pinpoint  fraud and resulted in millions of more dollars  in subrogation recoveries

Infinity Property & Casualty Insurance: speeding up financial relief for auto accidents. Watch the video.Infinity Property & Casualty Insurance: speeding up financial relief for auto accidents. Watch the video.

How Reliances's business took off in the fast-growing Indian insurance market. Watch the video.How Reliances's business took off in the fast-growing Indian insurance market. Watch the video.


 

Faced with a host of challenges from technologically sophisticated customers to a demanding financial climate, insurers have to work faster, more efficiently and above all smarter. Those that do will survive; those that don't will fail.

This is why the customer strategies of the past — endlessly swapping disloyal and dissatisfied customers by competing over rates alone —will not satisfy these savvy consumers and will not lead to sustainable retention or significant growth.