Data and Digital Dominate Discussions at InsureTech Connect 2018

Protiviti Managing Director Shawn Seasongood attended the InsureTech Connect conference in Las Vegas earlier this month. He shares his impressions on what is exciting the industry in this brief podcast recorded shortly after the conference.

InsureTech Connect Podcast Transcript

Kevin Donahue: Hello. This is Kevin Donahue with Protiviti. I’m pleased to be talking today with Shawn Seasongood. Shawn is a Managing Director with our Business Performance Improvement group, one of our leaders in that group specifically for the financial services industry. Shawn recently attended the InsureTech Connect 2018 conference and I was going to talk to him a little bit about that event and what he heard there. Shawn, thanks for jumping on the line with me today.

Shawn Seasongood: Hi, Kevin. How are you today?

Kevin Donahue: Great, Shawn. Thanks. Let me dive right in and first ask you, as I mentioned, we, Protiviti, attended the InsureTech Connect conference this year in Las Vegas. Shawn, tell me a little bit about that event. What is it exactly?

Shawn Seasongood: Yes. It’s a great event where it gets a lot of different insurance leaders, both from an industry perspective and also thought perspective together. We are in Las Vegas. Protiviti had about close to six participants there, and we were just doing a lot of networking with different people that are focused on innovation within the insurance space. A lot of the leading carriers trying to figure out how they’re doing, what they’re doing in the spirit of digital, customer experience, how they’re working through different technologies to reach the marketplace in the different ways. A lot of focus in the past with this conference was on distribution and how they sell and market products through digital platforms. Now, it seems there are a lot more insurance companies that are getting into the core operations of insurance and using digital technologies to transform how they do underwriting, how they do claims, how they do reinsurance. So much more focused this year on what I’ll say is the core competency of an insurance carrier or the insurance market, where in the years in the past, we saw a lot of focus on distribution. We saw a lot more, now, bleed into the core insurance operations, so that was exciting. Digital is big in insurance so new technology, emerging technology, how they’re doing pricing and underwriting, lots of discussions around that. We saw a lot of demos in that space, or demonstrations of those technologies, also a lot of discussions on D&A (data and analytics). D&A was one of the hottest topics that I noticed, going to the different vendor displays. Companies are really trying to understand D&A and how to use that, what does predictive modeling look like in insurance as far as both pricing and underwriting, and just trying to understand customer behavior too from a D&A perspective. A lot of great information was gathered as part of this.

Kevin Donahue: Shawn, by D&A, are you referring to data and analytics?

Shawn Seasongood: Yes, good clarity. Data and analytics. Companies are really looking at different ways to use data both from the CX perspective, or the customer experience perspective, and also understanding, looking at different market data to figure out which type of products they want to sell and what are the best means to selling those products, what are the untapped markets, where there’s more niche place within the insurance space. Where is the market currently underserved? I think that was a big focus. A lot of that comes through different tools from data and analytics perspective. It seemed like a very hot topic walking through the conference and listening to different speakers that were speaking.

Kevin Donahue: Shawn, it definitely sounds like innovation was a topic or theme woven into a lot of what was happening at the event. In your view, is the industry embracing innovation today? Are companies ready to do this or is it going to take a few more years for these innovative practices to take hold? I was just thinking about what was the difference between now and five years ago and what do we think the industry is going to look like five years from now?

Shawn Seasongood: Yes. I think companies are definitely much more mature from an innovation standpoint. I think if you look at which companies are leaders versus transitioning, there’s a lot more companies that are now more in the transitional space looking and aspiring to be more in innovation space specific around insurance. There’s obviously a life cycle from a beginner to transitional phase and it’s more of a modern phase into a leader. I think more companies now are evolving into more what I call a transitional phase. One of the things that was interesting is comparing the insurance industry against other financial services companies. I think there are less barriers or resistance. Insurance companies have embraced that they need to stay ahead of technology. I don’t think they’re focused as much on resistance, or ROI, return on investment. They know in order for them to continue to exist and be relevant, this is the path forward that they need to take. I think there’s a lot less resistance, or business case, or what I’ve said before, a lot less focus on the return and much more focus for us to continue to be relevant, we need to go  down this innovation channel.

Kevin Donahue: Great insights, Shawn. Thanks for the recap today. I appreciate you joining me.

Shawn Seasongood: Thanks, Kevin.

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