I once again had the opportunity to visit Munich for the Digital Insurance Agenda conference there - DIA Munich. It was only earlier this year that we attended DIA Amsterdam and you might wonder, what could have changed in only 6 months? The answer there actually, is that's the wrong question. The two conferences both seem to cover the same topics looking at InsurTech in Europe, however the different locations and different attendees give a different feel and focus to the event.
As noted in the prior blog, we saw:
- API-first, then Mobile-first
- Rise of the Middle Tier
- AI is just technology
- Chatbots grow up
- No-code and low-code beating DevOps...
Those trends and technologies were present and important in Munich as well but much of the focus was on the needs of the German market, Switzerland, Austria, Italy - to name but a few. Here more traditional distribution topics came to the fore beyond direct sales. We saw the trends interpreted with a view to the following:
- Agent selling
See The Agent of the Future and P&C Agent Portals: Providing a Window Into Digital Insurance for discussion on these topics
Why Should Insurers Seriously Consider Bancassurance?
See Closing the deal with e-signature and Putting a Lock on Straight-Through Processing: Life Insurance E-Signature Vendors
This gave DIA Munich a more human feel, with focus being on human led sales rather than just digital direct to consumer. For me, this gave a more human feel to many of the pitches as well, talking about how technology augments natural interactions.
During the event some of Europe's largest insurers were on stage with folks from Zurich, Generali, Aviva and others appearing. The messages were familiar in some ways and novel in others. The familiar message of collaboration, working together to build out an eco-system that is better for the customer - this message was clearly there and continues the soft feel of the InsurTech community. While the digital, automated, self service has seen much press and is the focus of many consumer oriented propositions today, this is far from the only sales and service model that customers are looking for. Clearly, for some market segments, a human touch that is digitally enabled will win the day over the latest empathic automoton.
So in practice, little had changed in InsurTech or in insurance in 6 months, but the context was a little different - we saw InsurTech through a different lens. What this demonstrated to me most clearly was how insurers are likely to differentiate in the future, that an eco-system is not a one size fits all affair and that there is, fortunately, room for the traditional mixed with the digital. For more on the InsurTech movement in Germany - review The Future of Insurtech in Germany.
However, there was a hard center to the softer message too. These super insurers hinted that the cost of collaborating with the InsurTech should not be too high, and actually that they can be very effective at innovating themselves. Celent has long discussed the importance of true value from Insurtech relationships, as captured by Mike Fitzgerald in Innovation is More than Insurtech.
There is a sense in the industry across Europe that the incumbents are maturing, both in their own capabilities and in seeking true partners within their eco-systems who bring real value to them.