In this Opinion piece, Mark Johnson, Head of EMEA at Symphony Communications, takes a look at shared communications and data within the insurance sector. In a digital world, where GDPR and other regulations apply, you have to assess the need to transfer ideas and information rapidly, whilst considering data security and potential fraud.
Technology no longer just helps and enhances ways of working – it’s flipping long-standing industries like insurance on its head.
For one, blockchain has the potential to allow insurance companies using legacy IT systems to cast aside the old ways and take a big step into the digital future. This includes access to data and analytics that can greatly increase the speed at which transactional and administrative processes take place while still retaining the security of previous working models. The potential for smart contracts would also provide many more opportunities to prevent fraud at the source.
In a similar vein, developments in AI hold the answer to identifying insurance fraud as early as possible and helping prevention. These AI and machine-learning tools help humans spot unusual patterns which would otherwise be missed and help to tackle the millions of dollars which are lost each year to insurance fraud – and cut down on customer premiums in the process.
Yet another set of tools enabling innovation in the insurance sector are collaboration platforms and chat apps. By adopting this way of working, insurance companies can enable more internal and external collaboration and share data and documents much more easily. The more advanced platforms also offer in-built bots which can be programmed to help gather relevant information needed for brokering.
However, as the benefits and usage of technology increase, the risks also multiply.
The Decline of Digital Trust
Studies presented at the World Economic Forum suggest that digital trust is in decline. But is it any wonder? Whether it’s a fear that bias will creep into AI algorithms, unfairly putting many at a disadvantage, or that technology will be making decisions previously taken by humans is a natural cause for concern – exacerbated by sensationalist media headlines.
Let’s not forget the importance now placed on protecting data. Be it through large scale data breaches or malicious attacks – confidence in data security has now been undermined. The introduction of GDPR has raised the stakes in companies being held accountable for any loss or misuse of data – particularly in highly regulated fields such as insurance.
Building trust at a time of widespread distrust and enabling secure working patterns throughout the workplace is a challenge, but one that organisations must face if they are to adopt cutting-edge technologies.
Secure Communication and Collaboration Leads to Faster Innovation
One path that offers room for innovation without hindering security and compliance requirements is to implement a secure collaboration platform with an integrated chat system. Collaboration and chat apps allow users to instantly find and share data, connect with colleagues and customers, or automate routine tasks to help them work better and faster.
However, some communication platforms currently used across mainstream industries are at risk of posing security, regulatory or compliance risks to companies and employees alike. Without a clear understanding of how these tools work, employees might unwittingly share sensitive information to the wrong group of people, compromise security by sharing confidential files externally, or even expose your data to risk by making use of them whilst on public Wi-Fi.
Leadership at these companies are understandably sceptical of anything that might undermine data security and, with sensitive information running freely through these cloud-based platforms, one can hardly call this a secure alternative to email. But for the insurance industry to benefit from innovative new ways of working then new platforms must be introduced to bridge the gap from old legacy systems.
It is a balance which must be struck and business leaders need to be confident that security doesn’t come at the price of innovation, and vice-versa.
Build Digital Trust with Careful Control of Data
Luckily, there are ways to share sensitive data, enable collaboration and facilitate innovation, that don’t require executives to take the proverbial “trust fall”. With careful planning, businesses can still use the public cloud while protecting their data.
The way forward is to return control over data to companies that own it by using end-to-end encryption, providing customers with full control over keys and processing data only within the customer premises. By combining end-to-end encryption and on-premises key storage, data can be more safely stored and moved in the cloud. Keeping data encrypted in this manner means that even if a hack occurs, any data will remain unreadable. Storing keys on-premises (and not in the cloud, as many services do) significantly shrinks the possible attack radius.
With this model, businesses can make the most of digital transformation with minimal risk. This means the ability to more quickly drive forward technological initiatives that add real business value and help save time and money.
Innovation is knocking on the door of the insurance sector, but embracing digital initiatives to enable this has been historically difficult. With thoughtfully designed secure communication, insurance leaders can once again trust their digital tools to help them gain a valuable edge.