The 2021 Tech Trend research has valuable innovation lessons for any industry

According to research conducted by Accenture, 99% of insurance executives say the pandemic created an unprecedented stress test for their organisation. I think it’s more profound than that. The pandemic redefined what we think of as risk, and I would argue, it demands that we as an industry re-evaluate our relationship with risk.

For example, how do you sell life insurance during a global pandemic? Before March 2020, the customer would go for a medical. But that’s not an option when we’re told to stay away from doctors and medical facilities for our own safety and the safety of the healthcare professionals.

Having a medical before an insurer will underwrite a life policy is almost an article of faith. How else can you possibly do it?

One innovative solution was developed by Haven Life, the digital life insurance agency of Mass Mutual. They found medical data sets, and used a combination of artificial intelligence and a human-powered process to give qualified individuals instant coverage without a medical exam.

This illustrates what I’ve been saying: Haven Life has re-evaluated its relationship with risk, found a completely different way to mitigate it, and in the process, has given customers a future they would love to be part of. That’s leadership.

And it’s not only life insurance. An Indian carrier called Bajaj Allianz offers crop insurance to local farmers. On the insurer’s mobile app, farmers now get personalised crop advisories. They can take a photo of a sick plant and the app will help diagnose the problem. They get up-to-the-minute market prices so they can decide when to take the crop to market to get the best price. And the carrier uses the app to cross-sell its motor and health insurance.

Less visible but no less impactful are the behind-the-scenes innovations that allowed leaders to pull even further ahead of their competitors during the pandemic.

Banco Santander accelerated their move to the cloud by migrating 200 servers every working day for two years – over 4,000 servers. Sixty percent of their IT infrastructure will be in the cloud by 2023. This rapid move has allowed their 100,000 employees working from home to serve 148-million customers in Europe and the Americas.

These examples demonstrate that the financial services industry can lead their customers into a bright future. But it’s only possible if they are willing—and able—to re-evaluate their relationship with the status quo and create products that improve customers’ lives.

You can read the research report here.