FORECAST 2024: Technology Trends
On the technology front, we asked Forecast survey participants what technology their company has embraced in the past year, and how did the introduction/transition go. Not surprisingly, many of our executives mentioned artificial intelligence (AI), and particularly generative AI, as a technology they are either embracing or looking to embrace.
“While we’ve been utilizing AI and automation for several years, we are now working on several use cases for leveraging generative AI,” says Caroline Feeney, EVP & Chief Executive Officer, U.S. Businesses, Prudential Financial. “Overall, we believe AI-based tools will continue to enable us to quickly analyze data, make faster decisions, reduce risk and improve the customer experience. We’ve already deployed AI-powered systems throughout our U.S. businesses — accelerating underwriting from weeks to seconds, preventing fraudulent claims and enhancing customer satisfaction through virtual assistants and chatbots.
“A great example of how we’re leveraging automation and AI in our businesses today,” she adds, “is in our Group Insurance business, where we recently launched a strategic partnership with Evolution IQ, an AI-driven platform that is simplifying the disability claims process. It integrates into our claims process and uses data-driven guidance to allow our examiners to manage both short- and long-term claims to optimal outcomes faster, while eliminating manual work. Another example is in our digital and hybrid advice business, where we have developed a retirement planning tool that, among other things, can help our customers find the best location for them to retire based on a series of questions they answer, all powered by generative AI.”
New York Life is also working with generative AI says Aaron Ball, SVP & Co-Head of the Foundational Business, New York Life. “We have identified four use cases where we could deploy a test-and-learn strategy involving generative AI,” says Ball. “With the help of external support, the organization has embraced the change, and our employees are excited to work on a cutting-edge technology.”
Gordon Watson, Chairman, AXA Asia, says AXA is continuing to explore the potential of AI in several areas, including “AI-powered chatbots and image recognition, which can streamline claims processes; virtual assistants, which can provide 24/7 customer support; AI for fraud detection; and AI to help enable insurers to offer more personalized services.”
Many companies also are implementing digital capabilities to help streamline processes and improve customer service.
“Our company is in the middle of a multiyear, end-to-end, digital transformation to enhance the customer and agent experience with self-service capabilities, to improve operational processes, to enable faster speed-to-market and to lower costs,” says Joe Monk, SVP, Financial Services, State Farm. “As we develop and implement products and capabilities, we test experiences with end users and make adjustments. Feedback from agents and customers has been positive. Looking ahead, we expect to make all our products available for sale and convert our in-force policies to take advantage of the new digital capabilities.”
“We continue to evolve our proprietary new business platform, Horizon, which has increased speed and greatly simplified the application process for clients and distribution partners,” says Mark Holweger, President & Chief Executive Officer, Legal & General America. “With the ability to integrate with a variety of tools that our partners expect and new releases every other week, we’re happy to be a few more miles into the marathon of change than many others. And we don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon since there are so many individuals, families and businesses that can benefit from the end-to-end digitalized process.”
Mike Simonds, Chief Operating Officer, Unum Group says that Unum has done an “expansion of its leave management capabilities leveraging digital engagement.” Simonds notes that they have seen “strong adoption from customers.”
“Advisor360 really started to get strong traction this year with advisors affiliated with MassMutual,” says Paul LaPiana, Head of Brand, Product & Affiliated Distribution, MassMutual. “Its end-to-end platform for protection and wealth management products provides a holistic lens for both consumers and advisors. Consumers can clearly see if their goals and objectives are being met, while advisors can provide highly informed guidance effectively and efficiently.”
Chris Blunt, President & Chief Executive Officer, F&G, identified “cloud for all critical applications” as a technology that F&G is embracing, adding that it is “more secure and has lower run-rate costs.”
Adrian Griggs, EVP & Chief Operating Officer, Pacific Life, listed a number of technologies that Pacific Life is embracing, including voice-of-the-customer (VOC) tracking and analytics tool/platform, cybersecurity tools, AI, new modern administrative systems “FAST” and “V3locity,” underwriting workbench and workflow, and a new digital cloud-based insurance platform.
“We continue to assess and evaluate technologies that would be strong assets to Protective and our customers, specifically those that create more efficiencies and support customers’ preferences and needs,” says Wade Harrison, EVP & Chief Retail Officer, Protective Life.
“In our Retirement Division, third-party technology providers are enabling a more seamless annuity sales experience for financial professionals by building more direct connections between the money-management platforms they use today and the annuity carriers’ order-entry platforms,” he says. “This “insurance exchange” streamlines, enhances and consolidates annuity management for the industry, bringing powerful tools and a unified platform that better serves financial professionals and their customers.”
Ron Herrmann, EVP, Head of RGA Americas, RGA, says that RGA has “implemented new SaaS technology to enhance our client relationship planning, bringing a new level of insight and accountability to our business development team.”
Denise McCauley, President & Chief Executive Officer, WoodmenLife, says her organization has “introduced several business process technology enhancements to improve our time to implement our strategic objectives more quickly. We have seen positive results that are allowing us to move more quickly and plan to continue these investments.”
“Northwestern Mutual recently launched a new proprietary financial planning platform that we believe is the gold standard in the industry,” says Kamilah Williams-Kemp, EVP & Chief Insurance Officer, Northwestern Mutual. “It provides Northwestern Mutual clients with an exclusive financial planning experience that is modern, comprehensive, personalized, easy to understand and action-oriented. Uniquely, it connects our clients’ investments for growth, life insurance for protection and guaranteed growth, and annuities for retirement income. Even better, the experience is specifically designed to help alleviate the fear and financial anxiety Americans face by simply displaying all the information and insights they need to make intelligent financial decisions.
“Adoption this year continues to exceed our expectations, and we’re thrilled with the feedback we have received from our advisors and clients,” she adds. “Importantly, this is our platform, so we have ultimate control over how it develops and grows in the future. The experience will continue to evolve and improve as new capabilities are imagined and implemented.”
Of course, technology ultimately must align with the overall strategic vision of the company. “It’s not so much about what new technology we’re embracing, as much as it is about the why,” says Amy Friedrich, President, Benefits and Protection, Principal Financial Group. “When it comes to embracing technology, we continuously ask ourselves, 'Whose experience or are you prioritizing (customers, partners, employees) and whose problem needs a solution?' By asking these questions, it has guided us on how we’re spending our time and resources, and reminds us why the work we do is important," said Friedrich.