ITC 2023 Trends and Takeaways: It’s All About Focus

On my flight home from a whirlwind week at InsureTech Connect 2023 in Las Vegas, I had the time to pause and reflect on countless conversations with solution providers and carriers. The key takeaway from what I heard and saw can be summed up by a positive F-word: Focus.

1.      The Pendulum Swing from CX to OpEx

In our current economic and industry climate, it is not surprising that some carriers and vendors may be feeling a sense of whiplash. For the past few years, the discussions have increasingly been all about customer experience. Those who doubled down on CX are now seeking a new balance that increases the focus on operational efficiency without over-rotating in that direction. After all, improving CX and OpEx do not have to be mutually exclusive goals; instead, they can co-exist, albeit with different measures of success.

2.      Embracing AI as a Toolkit, Not a Silver Bullet

Generalized AI labels can feel a bit like the perfume seller (whom my mother used to call “the spray lady”) in the department store, where distinct solutions sound the same. Or they seem ethereal and inexplicable – what a former colleague used to refer to as “insert magic here.” Using more focused terminology, like machine learning (ML) or natural language processing (NLP), helps carriers deepen their insight into what types of AI solutions are a best fit. And it keeps us grounded in the reality that AI is not the best solution for every insurance challenge. The use cases of AI are most powerful when they’re bolstering human value.

3.      Narrower and Deeper Products

Vendors who are realizing success within a specific business operation (e.g., underwriting) or even use case (e.g., risk assessment) are considering a more focused strategy (e.g., deferring an expansion into claims). This lets them capitalize on an already competitive product and effective marketing strategy – both of which can take years to achieve. That does not mean their scope expansion strategies are null and void. For some, they are on pause. For others, they will leverage the loyalty earned within their highly satisfied carriers to pursue warm introductions to other business units.

4.      Collaboration as a Force Multiplier

It’s exciting to see how we continue to expand from the earliest years of insurance technology when “build” was the only option. Core system providers opened up “buy,” and carriers then developed the expertise to consider “reuse.” The current insurance industry marketplace includes more solutions that are the result of partnerships. Core system providers paved the path with their partner ecosystems of best-of-breed components, so they didn’t have to build these adjacent solutions. Insurtechs are now similarly seeking pairings that make one plus one equal more than two by combining individually focused products to offer more robust solutions.

5.      Back-Office Automation Can Be Transformative

Intelligent document processing (IDP) is having a moment (with more to follow) as carriers look for efficiency, experience, and profitability gains by focusing on automating the processing of structured and unstructured data. Bottlenecks being unclogged include quote submissions, policy change requests, new claim reports, and related loss documents like medical reports and litigation materials.

What will ITC 2024 reveal? Based on this year and the past few, I expect these current insurance trends to continue – along with some inevitable surprises. Insurance doesn’t exist in a vacuum; instead, it evolves as the world shifts whenever we cannot anticipate and be a step ahead. As John Lennon said so well, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.”

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