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Insurance companies face the same need to adopt emerging technology as any other type of business. Customers are tech-savvy, and they expect their insurer to be, too. But not every technology advance is right for every application. And excited as your company may be to be seen as “cutting edge,” you don’t want to get distracted by the glitz and wind up sacrificing functionality. That could be a very costly mistake.

 

Take Google Glass, for example

When Google announced this amazing new product in 2012, it was the Hot New Thing. Some big insurers believed Google Glass could – and would soon – replace old-fashioned pen, notebook and camera when it came to adjusting claims. Just think how much faster and more efficient the process could be.

Unfortunately, in some ways Google Glass was ahead of its own time. Other companies now make similar products, even as Google has backed off somewhat on their commitment to this wearable technology. But the truth is, “smart glasses” have not gone mainstream for very relevant business reasons:

  • The internal battery lasts just 10-15 minutes if you’re in streaming mode. You can use an external battery pack, but then you have to keep recharging it.
  • To support a barely-decent level of battery life, you forego processing speed. This is a universal conundrum with mobile devices.
  • Because the processor is weak, it tends to overheat when you’re streaming video or using the glasses for some other power-hungry task.
  • You can’t use the glasses without a smartphone or other device with an internet connection.
  • You also need a broader software platform that can integrate the data captured via the glasses with the rest of your business data such as claim and underwriting documentation, plus security and a host of other functions.
  • The glasses have limited “vision,” making it tough to confirm captured images or video.
  • They’re really expensive – about $1500 per pair for Google Glass.

In other words, smart glasses are cool and could have tremendous potential. But they aren’t ready for prime time yet. At least not for insurers.

 

Other technology advances are showing more promise

Google Glass is by no means your only option, if your goal is to modernize your presence and capabilities as an insurer. Last year, ACORD, a non-profit standards and data exchange company, funded a contest to spur innovation aimed at the insurance industry. This was the Association for Cooperative Operations Research and Development 2015 Insurance Innovation Challenge. That’s a mouthful, but the results were tasty indeed. Let’s look at the two winners.

 

Livegenic, winner in the Disruptors category

This young company created Real-Time Guidance for Claims, software that gives your insured control over their own claims process. With this app, you no longer have to send an adjuster into the field. When your client calls to report a loss, you simply text them a link to the app – while you’re on the phone. They install it and can live-stream video to you via their phone. You see what they’re seeing, and you can give them directions to turn, zoom in, etc. Livegenic says this can cut data capture from the traditional 7-14 days to 7-14 hours. They are currently working with two of the top 10 P&C carriers.

 

Insurity, winner in the Innovators category

This company’s solution is called Insurance Enterprise View. It dramatically streamlines the data conversion process, something all insurers struggle with as they try to modernize legacy systems without losing data. The software integrates data from any source, automatically conforming it to enterprise standard so it is easily available to all users. It is based on ACORD’s standards and incorporates data repositories that support more than 30 business lines. The company says their system enables data mapping within three to six months, whereas traditional methods can take up to a year.

 

Keep looking for the right tech advances

Investigating the possibilities of new technologies is always a smart plan. No insurer wants to be left by the wayside as competitors sweep past, having parlayed new ideas into significant operations improvements. So keep an open mind, but evaluate each option with a sharp eye on practicality, to ensure you’re making a smart long-term investment.

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