Canadian Underwriter

Customer expectations require carriers to move to digitalization

August 31, 2016   by Angela Stelmakowich, Editor

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There is a need to move beyond digitization to digitalization if insurance carriers expect to truly be prepared to address customer expectations in the digital age, Avi Greenfield, senior manager of product strategy for OpenText Exstream, said Tuesday at’s Executive Forum in downtown Toronto.

Business woman are checking stock marketDigitalization has increased as a priority for chief technology executives taking part in a recent survey from Gartner, Greenfield reported to forum attendees.

Gartner makes a distinction between digitization – which is digitizing the traditional kind of manual paper processes – and digitalization, “which is really, rethinking, re-architecting, reinventing your business processes to accommodate this digital age that we’re in,” he pointed out.

The message seems to be getting through, Greenfield suggested. Carriers seem to be increasingly cognizant “there are a number of demographic forces and technology forces that really make it necessary to meet consumers where they are, when they want to be interacted with and the ways they want to be interacted with.”

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Avi Greenfield, senior manager of product strategy for OpenText Exstream

Legacy modernization is also a key part of meeting customer wants and demands, Greenfield suggested.

An island of technology may develop as a result of organizations having grown through acquisition and decentralized decision-making around technology, he noted. “You wind up with a lot of disparate systems, silos of content, silos of data. That tends to be very challenging.”

However, there seems to now be greater recognition among carriers of the need for legacy modernization, he told attendees. Carriers see “that the systems they have used historically are not up to the task of accommodating the new methods of engagement that consumers are looking for,” he added.

Citing a Foresters survey from last year, Greenfield reported that 89% of polled organizations identified digital transformation as a top priority for their companies.

“This isn’t putting up a new website or upgrading a CRM (customer relationship management) system,” he emphasized.

“This is a fundamental change in the way that carriers do business. This is a fundamental change in business models and the way that organizations need to interact with and really engage the new style of consumers and these new technologies,” he said.

By 2025, Greenfield told attendees, 75% of the workforce is going to be digital natives, some of whom are now in their 30s. “They know from their tablets and their smartphones. They don’t make the distinction between the technology that they use in their home lives and what they use at work,” he said.

“I think that’s very key to recognize,” Greenfield noted. It is “really critical to understand these systems that we utilize within our organizations have to be up to those same standards that we are looking for in terms of engagement with our consumers,” he said.

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“The traditional model of going to market based on products or lines of business leads to experiences that are very fragmented for the consumer because the message, voice and look can be significantly different between those different channels and lines of business,” Greenfield pointed out.

Many of his company’s customers are evolving to more of a cross-channel method – where multiple communications come from a single source of content that’s channel-agnostic and presented appropriately for the channel engagement, he said. Ultimately, the goal is to provide an omni-channel experience.

“You want to enable consumers to pick up a transaction – start it in one channel and seamlessly pick it up in another channel as appropriate,” he said.

A key area, Greenfield suggested to attendees, is content management. “Having shared content between those channels is really essential in terms of providing a consistent experience, but it also takes your rethinking of that content into a context that is much more customer-aware,” he suggested.

It really means rewriting content so it is in plain language and more easily understood, he noted. “That has a real impact on customer experience.”

As well, Greenfield added, having options for multiple delivery methods that are preferred by customers will further contribute to “having a very impactful customer experience.”

More coverage of’s Executive Forum

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