Richard Williams, CIO at Mitsui Sumitomo, gave an inspiring keynote at ITC 2014, looking ahead to a future that's not so very far away. One of the striking points he made is that the digital revolution is more about the customer facing side of the business than the backend. Most players in the industry are focused on improving their processes, which is an efficiency play. At some point, the returns on this kind of investment will start to diminish. Richard said that by the end of 2016, everyone will have got nearly all the benefits they can from BPM and analytics – partly because the regulator is pushing this way.
By 2017, we'll be seeing digital partnerships becoming routine, with new value propositions driven by data about customer location, activity and preferences. This will be radical enough, but Richard predicts that 2020 will see the first “no-touch” insurance processes across the sector. He imagines a storm approaching an office building. The building automatically closes its shutters and arms itself against the coming storm. However, the roof suffers slight damage and water gets in; the building reports the damage and perhaps a drone gives independent visual confirmation. The building may even be able to heal itself by booking the appropriate repair crew.
This is a wonderful vision of great service, with insurance at the heart of an end-to-end process. Richard's conclusions about IT flow naturally from the vision. He says it's time to stop talking about “IT” as something separate from the business. All staff have to be digitally aware.
This is a summary of only part of Richard's message. Like all the keynotes at ITC, this was powerful stuff from someone at the heart of our industry. The timelines Richard gives are compelling. He's showing the way ahead.