Get Digital

I love analog. 

The precise, punctuated arc of second hand sweeping around a dial. 

The satisfying thunk of a gearshift dropping into second.  

Wide white margins with room to scribble notes.

Except when it comes to insurance underwriting.  On this topic, we can’t Get Digital fast enough.

What does it mean to Get Digital?

One way to think about digital is to contrast it with what’s not:

  • Telematics mileage, day & time are digital;  Vehicle Make, Model & Use are analog.
  • Roof Pitch; # Valleys, #Stories, #Windows are digital;  a photo of a dwelling is analog.
  • Call duration and verbal stress score are digital;  recording of a phone call is analog.
  • Hazard Score is digital;  physical inspection is analog.

So much of the information insurers have used for so long is analog, and so many of our processes and systems are built around it.  But computing and communications technologies have advanced to the point where digital data is now cheaper and easier.  More important, customer expectations have also advanced to the point where digital interaction is the norm.

Digital data is structured, objective and machine-readable.

Digital interactions exchange and respond to digital data, automatically and in real time.

A digital operation builds processes around digital interactions with customers, vendors and internal systems.

A digital organization examines every communication, every interaction, and every process for relevant data to acquire and process, for information to exchange, and for steps to automate..

Why Digital?

Digital is consistent and objective.  Factual answers to specific questions can be evaluated the same way every time.  You and I might differ on what constitutes an “adequate” employer safety program, but there’s no debate about the percentage of work hours lost to injury in the last 12 months..

Digital is scalable.  If you can reduce the information you collect about customers and vendors to facts and figures, then a computer can evaluate it.  The extra cost to process additional transactions as volume grows is miniscule.

Digital is machine-respondable.   A device can not only read but also RESPOND TO digital data without waiting for human input.  An online request by a consumer to record a replacement vehicle, for example, can automatically be re-rated and billed.

Digital allows complex combinations.  People are great at synthesizing unstructured data, but even the best brains can only handle a few variables at a time.  When people are assigning rate classes or determining underwriting eligibility, there’s a limit to just how complex the rules can be.  But with data structured for automated evaluation, the possibilities are limited only by the quality of the data and the designer’s imagination.

Digital is fast.  The Flash Boys figured this out.  Digital information can be exchanged, evaluated and automatically responded to in real time.  A certain fruit-flavored startup engineered a digital process to pay a claim in three seconds.  Instant claim payment might not be right for your business, but a trail has been blazed. 

Digital accumulates.  Insurers have acquired an uncountable quantity of analog information in formats that yield no data.  Photographs, correspondence, log notes, and PDF attachments record events and take up storage space, but don’t accumulate and don’t add to the knowledge of the organization.  All the data scientists in the world can't advance your business if they don't have data to work with.  Digital elements are designed at the outset for retention, archiving and retrieval, yielding not only operational efficiencies, but also the valuable asset of accumulating data.

Digital is The Foundation for all innovation.

From Big Data to Telematics to Machine Learning to Artificial Intelligence, all the greatest insurance buzzwords of the last decade are predicated on a digital operation.  Digital is at the core of every credible disruptive effort.

The most important thing your organization can be doing right now is raising its Digital IQ.

  • If you’re not sure how to deploy chatbots, it’s OK. Just start working on digital.
  • If you’re debating the Internet of Things, keep debating (for now).  But start working on digital.
  • Not enough data to do Big Data?  You can do a lot with Little Data.  Provided it’s digital.

And if you’re not sure how to start, give me a call (oops. Analog...).  We’ll figure it out.