A few weeks ago at the Business Insurance Risk Management Summit in New York City, our President and CEO, Dave North, and I had the honor of accepting one of the 2014 Innovation Awards for our viaOne® express mobile app and push technology.
As you can imagine, the summit was abuzz with technology and tech-related topics. In addition to the awards ceremony, I was asked to facilitate a roundtable discussion on risk management tools and technology. Discussions were lively and centered on four areas:
How can we best manage growing data and utilize it to better identify the needs of target audiences? The benefits of "big data" were of significant interest. Data provides the opportunity to better understand your customers and draw conclusions from seemingly unrelated data sources. The ability to better target the needs of individuals based on this information is of tremendous benefit and value.
Another topic of interest centered on the challenges created by "big data" as it relates to privacy. The more data and information we create, the greater potential there is that it could be used against us in ways we cannot fathom today. Privacy and understanding how this data will ultimately be used was of paramount concern.
What does the spectrum of use and success look like for organizations that attempt a social media footprint? What guidelines or standards should a company look to when determining how to leverage and manage social media? Our roundtable discussed specific examples of how companies are prospering and falling in their social media endeavors.
Most felt that, currently, social media is more of a tool for marketing than something that could be leveraged along with core business data. However, in this day and age, support can often be much more rapidly achieved by tweeting your question or issue to a company's twitter account. Although not every company follows the same guidelines for responding, those that do it well are able to respond within minutes and address the exact question or need.
Cloud, mobile and analytics
Many companies now have a mobile-first (possibly even only) policy in terms of the products their consumers access. Smart companies utilize cloud-based platforms and develop in such a way that the mobile presence is not separate from their desktop equivalent. In our roundtable, consensus was that getting a solution out to users is more important than waiting to release the "perfect solution" – with one key caveat – that customer feedback is taken into consideration and ultimately built into the product.
When determining what to offer in a mobile product, at least some cues should be taken from the capabilities found in personal apps. Clearly, younger workers are adopting these capabilities more readily; however, it has been Sedgwick's experience that companies actively promoting the availability and benefits of a mobile offering see greater adoption across all demographics.
As more sources of data become accessible online – from sensors installed by cities, to increased social media utilization, to the emerging "internet of things" explosion – understanding how this data is and will be used will take on significant importance. Building the framework today is important and it is clear the federal government will ultimately need to play a role in making key decisions. Companies should develop solutions with a "privacy by design" approach and not wait to address issues once a product has been deployed.
It's hard to imagine another topic garnering as much discussion, debate and passion as current trends in technology. While the benefits are seemingly endless, potential challenges must also be considered. Smart companies are already ahead of the curve by providing solutions designed with privacy in mind and giving customers access to information in ways that are most convenient to them using mobile and push technology.
Sedgwick will continue to push the technology envelope as we move forward. In what ways are you staying ahead of the risk management technology curve?
Jarrod Magan, VP Client Technology Services