Each year we do a series of features loosely gathered under the Predictions theme. It’s not an original idea, Insurance Post probably started it for a bet with Charles Dickens. But the power of the internet means we can search the WordPress archive and see how those expert predictions worked out in 2020. So, did anyone see a global pandemic coming? Apart from Dr Strangelove at the World Economic Forum, that would be a firm no.
CLICKSOFTWARE PREDICTED GREENER COMPANY VALUES
Paul Whitelam’s Op-Ed piece last December predicted that sustainability and ticking the climate change box would be a top priority for many companies in 2020. He was right to identify the trend towards hybrids, greener EVs and the tricky last mile delivery/emissions costs when it comes to online shopping. Selling this sustainability ethos as an inherent corporate value would also become part of the customer experience too – spot on there sir. Paul also saw a rapid expansion of drone deliveries and smart IoT uniforms in 2020, which wasn’t quite so accurate.
In the intro to Paul’s piece however your IE Editor noted; Truth is, we are all potentially remote employees now.
Now that accidentally did become a workplace reality for millions.
ORACLE SAW MORE PAYG
Nick Jackson at Oracle predicted more PAYG types of cover, monthly subscription models like Netflix, would emerge and he was on the money there. Nick also saw company Finance Officers becoming empowered by data but arguably Covid kind derailed that. Nick also saw a global government headache on the matter of global corporate tax avoidance and again, Covid has neatly kicked that can down the road. In fact if anything, the rich corporations have got even richer in 2020 as Covid has decimated smaller companies and closed down retailers, hospitality, gig venues etc across most of the developed world.
ALTUS SAW ECO-SYSTEMS TAKE UP
Mark McDonald from Altus looked ahead and saw 2020 being a year when big insurance brands worked with insurtechs in eco-systems much more – dead right. Mark also wondered if product comparison sites might start to replace price-focussed websites. Automated switching might appear in the insurance space, similar to utility websites that constantly hunt for the best electricity/gas deals. Maybe the FCA ruling on loyalty discounts will drive all that ahead in 2021?
Mark also thought that insurtech investment would perhaps be more concentrated on the potential winners, and some insurtechs would fold as the cash supply was throttled back. To an extent that was correct in that Coverly, Blackboard, Buzzvault and a few others ceased trading, but overall investment continued apace and Series A/B funding rounds, plus the Lemonade float, all highlighted a flipside. Covid actually forced consumers online, and prompted millions of policyholders to reconfigure their car and home insurance during lockdown. On balance the pandemic either transformed and kickstarted insurtech, or delayed the day of reckoning when those who are treading water, rather than swimming towards success, are eventually exposed.
PEGASYSTEMS – TONY THE TIGER
Tony Tarquini came out with a 180 score as he predicted the FCA would finally act on renewal pricing. Then he added that personalising pricing using AI was a win in terms of customer experience, but the downside could be skewed data that could be interpreted as racist – onto something there for sure. Tony also saw how the IoT could offer risk prevention data to insurers and brokers. Especially on Commercial Lines, where knowing who was inside an office, or when an escape of water was happening, could save everyone a packet by being pro-active.
I would say that’s three treble-twentys there.
The financial services fraud and digital ID specialist was right to highlight more smartphone banking in 2020, although they probably didn’t mean that the baks would physically close most of their branches! Plus Onespan predicted more hackers busily exploiting the new online banks and all their apps with ransomware and phishing attacks. To a degree they were right, although there’s nothing like the old `HMRC has a £477 tax refund ready for you to claim‘ email for reeling in millions.
Onespan correctly identified the need for two-step verification, or perhaps facial recognition, as a back up to traditional passwords in 2020. On the downside they saw the California Privacy Act as a tipping point for data privacy in the USA and beyond, whereas in reality Covid has enabled governments to basically eradicate all human rights and privacy laws, if they feel like it, for public health emergency reasons.
What does 2021 hold? Stand by for more Predictions features later in December.