Building a successful future BRICK BY BRICK

Tomorrow’s insurance industry is going to be determined and driven by the customer.Only insurers largely focused on the satisfaction of future customers, can expect to have an edge in tomorrow’s market.

Tomorrow’s customer needs to be at the centre of industry strategy today, if success is to be attained in the future.

The digital-savvy customer

Work in a number of industries is beginning to transform into a more digitally-driven operational model. The insurance industry is no different. Though not fully equipped with all the necessary skills required for the insurance landscape of tomorrow, the industry has begun laying the foundations and is well on its way to building a sector that will best serve the future consumer of insurance products.

Technology is the one tool that is required to handle the digital-savvy customer that is already beginning to manifest in today's market.

This customer is heavily reliant on efficiency and demands the industry to remain on its toes to ensure satisfaction and prompt delivery. Already at play within the sector are the uses of drones and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in dealing with underwriting and pricing, and the processing and settling of claims. Tomorrow's customers require speedy turnaround times, as well as products and services at their doorstep, of which digital technologies such as drones and AI can afford.

According to the PricewaterhouseCooper 2107/2018 Africa Insurance Survey report, titled 'Ready and Willing: African Insurance Industry Poised for Growth', technology can assist in reaching the under- and uninsured in the market. It is also the best tool to assist in building more customer-centric business models going into tomorrow.

The technology-driven customer of tomorrow has already begun leaving behavioural clues today, which could assist in the formulation of new products to suit their needs. These clues are evident in the way in which technology is being used today, and proper analysis could help birth relevant and cuttingedge products for the future customer.

Upskilling the workforce

To this end the industry will require a hefty investment into upskilling the current workforce, as well as ensuring that the incoming workforce is ready to deal with future customer needs.

According to the Inseta Sector Skills Plan report, currently the sector needs insurance claims specialists, underwriters and actuaries. These skills will not only help in creating the right personnel but will help position the industry in an attractive light for the young tech-savvy graduate.

The 2019 World Economic Forum also found that leadership skills such as creative thinking, digital skills, emotional intelligence and resilience are critical skills needed to build the future workforce. Collaboration, through a culture of cross organisational teamwork and soft skills, such as people management, were also identified as necessary skills for an effective workforce.

The industry should strive to develop the necessary skills and ensure that insurance practitioners are well equipped with the relevant skills to perform in the necessary roles.

Taking steps into the future

Going into the future of work, in a digital and technological landscape, individuals are also encouraged to invest in their career development, in order to appreciate the insurance profession and what it has to offer.

Both insurance sector personnel and companies will have to start taking steps into the future they envision for the industry. Today is a better time than any to begin grooming a client base for tomorrow by reacting and addressing tomorrow’s needs as exemplified by today’s behaviour.

Embarking on an uncharted journey to new frontiers can be daunting for most, however, the insurance industry has its guide, and that is the customer. Only a customer-centric, fast, needs-based and convenient future industry will guarantee satisfaction and growth in tomorrow’s market.

As futurist and philosopher Alvin Toffler aptly put it, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”

May we never stop learning.

Kopano Radebe
Kopano RadebeProfessional Development Manager - Insurance Institute of South Africa (IISA)
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