What opportunities does data offer for the insurance industry and its customers? Our Experience Design Strategist Peet Sneekes connects themes related to design, the Internet of Things, blockchain and new digital business models for clients every day. There are myriad chances here for the insurance industry.
“We work on products that our clients are not necessary requesting – we simply follow the technology in that direction,” says Sneekes. “We call it an innovation program as it aims to address a bigger picture of ways to use technology to enable a better, healthier life and a better community. Pension insurers, for example, can focus entirely on paying out pensions, or they can also ensure that people have good and healthy lives even before they retire. In some respects, this can be more interesting for the pension insurers.”
Ambient smartnessOne of the overarching topics in the Mirabeau innovation program is smart living, which focuses on the question of how people can live a healthy and clever life in a smart home. This involves making the step from big data to ambient intelligence. “The term ‘smart home’ quickly brings to mind smart meters, wall devices or table appliances that enable interaction with electrical devices in the home,” Sneekes says. “These are gadgets you can instruct to do things like switch lights on or off or turn the heating up and down”. That’s why we like to talk in terms of ‘smart living’, a more holistic view on things.
A data pack for the houseSneekes feels that the best way to create ambient intelligence is by combining a range of different technologies, in particular the data they provide, and then build an appropriate service on that foundation. “Houses are already filled to the brim with smart devices: televisions, energy meters, routers, cell phones, boilers, devices featuring the Internet of Things, and so on. Now imagine if you could put all the information collected by these devices together in a sort of data backpack for the house, and the house itself could take decisions to make the lives of its inhabitants easier and more pleasant.
Proactive packageThe usefulness for insurers of the information in such a home data pack is easy to see. After all, it is well known that damage to household effects and buildings mainly occurs when maintenance has been neglected, due perhaps to changes in the family composition. But overdue maintenance of human bodies or new neighbors with a rowdy child who often comes round can also take their toll.
“Insurers are also worried that they don’t have regular contact with their clients so don’t have a good feel for what’s really going on in their lives. They have statistics and can set up a panel or organize an open day, but a continuous flow of data would, of course, be many times more valuable. Naturally, they would have to respect personal privacy and do nothing without their customers’ consent – but they could also reward clients for their data, for example by contributing to maintenance or, in a broader context, helping organize neighborhood safety. In this way, insurers could supplement their business model or maybe even replace it.”
Trading platformSneekes feels that much remains to be done before ambient smartness can be fully realised. “While there are already lots of smart devices in homes, the data they generate is used almost exclusively by the companies that produce or own the devices. These individual data streams are now sometimes used to improve the services of those companies or enable smarter billing. They’re often also sold to companies and government authorities by so-called data brokers, but this isn’t conducive to a valuable relationship with the actual people living in their houses.
“What we would like to see at some point is these companies realizing that the data doesn’t belong to them but to their clients, and that it can be valuable to combine data from other people and multiple sources. Only then can we get better ideas on how to improve customer lives or make them more pleasant.