The latest Qorus-Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2022 are a powerful, practical illustration of the trends shaping the insurance industry. Sustainability and workforce transformation are becoming central for insurance companies to maintain their relevance in a changing market. Insurers must incorporate sustainability into their strategy and value proposition, and they must embrace workforce transformation in light of factors such as a tight labor market, skills shortages, increasing human-machine interaction and hybrid work arrangements. Both also become important considerations for people when choosing their insurance company and/or a place to build a career.
Social, sustainable and responsible
Accenture’s 2021 Insurance Global Consumer Study illustrated that sustainability in all its forms has become increasingly important to consumers, with 67 percent of millennials and younger generations saying that sustainable products and services are appealing. This interest will have a dual benefit for insurers, who can build a sustainable risk management model, while demonstrating to younger consumers that sustainability is a shared value.
In an earlier series on sustainability, I discussed how we are now engaging in a broader definition of sustainability in insurance. Sustainability is not just about protecting the planet, but protecting our future through positive socio-economic practices, caring for underserved and vulnerable communities.
Integrated, proactive sustainability will not be possible without implementing the right technology. As our latest research Combines technology and sustainability discusses, technology is a key factor in developing holistically sustainable companies and for that sustainability and technology strategies must be closely aligned. Actually in Accentures Perception to Reality: Closing Stakeholder Consensus Gaps to Shape Sustainable Organizations we illustrated that 43% of managers cite access to the right technology at the right cost as an important barrier to developing sustainability goals.
In this year’s awards, we saw how insurers are overcoming these challenges by linking sustainability to their purpose and vision and using technologies such as AI to track their own ESG requirements or build innovative products that add value to customers, as well as to society and the wider environment.
Category Winner – PZU (Poland)
This was certainly the case with this year’s winner of Social, Sustainable & Responsible 2022. PZU won the category for its AI Skin Cancer Prevention tool, which enables customers to quickly and easily access skin cancer screening through an AI-enabled mobile app.
Marcin Kurczab – Head of Innovation Lab at PZU explains how the tool came about: “When implementing the project, we identified the challenge of low awareness of the risk of skin cancer among employees of our corporate customers. For this reason, we offered them a simple and quick solution that automatically reminds them to perform regular self-examinations.”
Over 3,000 people signed up to the app in the first months of the pilot program, with five skin cancer cases identified by the app and so far confirmed by dermatological assessment. PZU received positive feedback from users, who shared that the tool made skin cancer prevention easier and more accessible.
Kurczab adds: “Two people told us about their medical consultations, during which the doctors were impressed by the effectiveness of the app, which proves its reliability. That is our mission as an insurer – we have the unique ability to protect and support people to live better and longer.” It only takes a minute for PZU customers to check their skin condition at home and, if there is a concern, to escalate this by seeing a doctor. Diagnosis at such an early stage increases the chance of a successful recovery.”
PZU saw an increase in customer sentiment as a result of the tool, and noted a statistically significant difference in the evaluation of PZU’s innovativeness (+13 pp compared to the control group) and the perception of the company as modern (+10 pp compared to the control group) in their annual market survey.
– It is common knowledge that healthcare is overburdened and patients often have to wait a long time for medical appointments and treatment. New technologies like AI have huge potential to revolutionize healthcare by addressing its main pain points. AI-based tools can handle a wide range of challenges by controlling symptoms, optimizing care processes, conducting triage but also predicting the risk of a certain disease (such as cancer) or enabling early detection of such diseases that will result in lower mortality. Modern AI tools can act as an aid to doctors in examination (there are already applications with medical certification that are prescribed by doctors just like medicines or other forms of rehabilitation) or enable self-examination opportunities as part of prevention – just like our project. AI does not feel fatigue, it is better at avoiding prejudices and can see what is not always noticed by humans. These features could make AI an integral part of medical diagnosis in the future.”
Talent is the lifeblood of the insurance industry. It is only with the right resources and knowledge that the insurance companies will be able to transform and realize their vision.
However, talent and skills shortages are a growing problem in the insurance industry. Skills gaps resulting from the introduction of new technology and increasing digitization of operations, along with an aging workforce and massive retirements are of particular concern. For example, talent management (succession, planning, recruitment, retention and training) was highlighted as a growing concern by underwriters in The Institutes-Accenture’s 2021 underwriting investigation.
A key emerging challenge and opportunity for insurance companies is the rise of the remote workforce. On the one hand, the remote workforce opens up new opportunities for efficiencies. IN Accenture’s Technology Vision for Insurance 2021 88% of insurance executives shared the belief that the remote workforce opens up the market for hard-to-find talent and increases competition for talent among organizations. On the other hand, optimizing the resources that ensure a healthy and productive workforce, regardless of physical location, can be challenging. Working remotely also makes a cohesive and collaborative workplace culture more difficult.
Category Winner – Zurich Insurance Company
Zurich addressed the particular challenges brought about by the hybrid workforce, with an all-in-one mobile application for Zurich employees that simplifies the daily experience whether they are at home or in the office.
Oscar Escudero Sanchez, Head of Digital Delivery, Zurich Insurance Company discusses how the team approached the creation of the app, “Zurich has approximately 56,000 employees globally and they deserve the best and easiest tools to navigate their work lives. We initially launched the app in several business units in Zurich focused on workplace booking but have come a long way since then and are going global this year. With One Zurich, we are reversing our old model of function-based digital experiences. Where previously we had different platforms for, say, HR- or IT support, our employees now have everything in one place.”
Liz Oswald, Head of Technology Transformation, Zurich Insurance Company adds, “One Zurich aims to provide our employees with a holistic digital experience. We regularly engage our employees through multiple channels such as focus groups, interviews, polls and in-app feedback forms to understand their wishes , needs and preferences, and uses that input to define and prioritize a backlog of app features and user experiences Once these are in production, we observe their usage and follow up with employees to understand what works well for them or what they would like see improve – and then we bring those changes and improvements into our backlog.”
This approach is adapted to a hybrid way of working. Escudero Sanchez explains, “Zurich has embraced the new post-pandemic way of working, including offering increased flex and remote work opportunities to employees. This model creates many opportunities for both the company and employees on how to stay connected in a hybrid workplace. On a tactical level the One Zurich app supports employees in managing their days on site with easy-to-use, visual tools that allow them to see when their colleagues plan to come into the office, book nearby workspaces and manage their bookings More broadly, One Zurich acts as a channel to engage employees with relevant updates and actions when they matter most and to help them feel connected regardless of the workplace model they choose.”
Workforce transformation does not happen in a vacuum, but as part of a deeper strategic commitment. Oswald concludes, “At Zurich, our ambition is to be one of the most responsible and impactful companies in the world. We know that a key factor in achieving this will be providing our clients, agents and brokers with modern, streamlined and intuitive tools and user flows that engage and delight them, and that are tailored to their individual needs. But it is not enough to focus on innovation for our external audience – everything has to start from the core! Our employees make Zurich. With One Zurich, we are an example for our employees by transforming their own experience and sharing our findings to inform our organisation’s wider digitization journey.”
As these two winners demonstrate, a holistic commitment to sustainability and workforce transformation from the inside can have widespread, powerful impact.
See the full 2022 Qorus Accenture Innovation in Insurance list.
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Disclaimer: This content is provided for general information purposes and is not intended to be used as a substitute for consultation with our professional advisors.