Articles - The power of the ecosystem

During the current crisis with most countries being in varying states of lockdown, digital commerce has come to the fore as the primary means that the majority of the world’s population can purchase goods and services. These changed habits for many, driven by necessity, are likely to be maintained after the crisis subsides. For consumers, the effect of the lockdown has been to massively accelerate the move to a digital-only approach for large sections of the population whose online shopping habits have been limited to date.

 By Tom Murray, Head of Product Strategy for LifePlus Solutions at Majesco.

 Now the demand for all services to be provided digitally has rocketed and those businesses that do not have the capability to provide a completely digital experience for their customers have been left struggling to adapt to the new reality. Once the lockdown is lifted, it is unlikely that the world will ever return to the way it was before and, given the likelihood that the social distancing requirements will be extended for quite some time, it means that customers will want to utilise technology anywhere they can rather than return to the face to face retail approaches utilised before. 

 Whilst many life and pension providers now allow their customers some degree of digital interaction, most of this is in strictly defined areas and the process falls back to a more manual approach at key points. This is no longer going to be sufficient to satisfy the needs of millennials who naturally live on-line and the new cohort of boomers who have become far more internet-savvy during the crisis.

 The challenge in this new world for financial service providers is to stand out as a supplier of financial services in a digital environment. For this to happen, providers must ensure that their digital offering is satisfying to the end-user. And what is emerging as key to achieving this is the ability to fulfil customers wishes by moving from a pure retail focus to a customer-centric approach i.e. looking to ensure that the customer can fulfil all their related needs as part of a singular, compelling experience.

 Providers need to look not just at the products and services they provide but the manner of their delivery and the ecosystems in which they operate. Partnering with related service and product providers enables a much more fulfilling experience to be designed, which in turn leads to higher levels of customer trust and satisfaction.

 Providing this more fulfilling experience means ensuring that the provider is using a platform which allows the building of complex services utilising providers of complementary services to focus on the broader range of customer needs – for example, customers who need medical reports should be able to arrange and manage the visits for these reports from the providers portal. A one-stop-shop for all customers’ financial needs is the ideal goal, but a pre-requisite of this is the use of a platform which not only can access the provider’s legacy information but also can seamlessly link with providers of complementary services to allow the design of sophisticated financial offerings driven by customer needs, not by what the companies provide. In short, digital lifestyles presuppose a customer focussed offering rather than a supplier focussed offering.

 Partnerships are vital to the success of this approach, which is predicated on enabling the rapid development of sophisticated services to end consumers. By utilising platforms that have a broad ecosystem of service providers related to life assurance, providers will be able to transform their offerings and provide the high-level digital experiences that the consumer is demanding.

 Although the temptation is for life and pension providers to restrict spending in this challenging economic environment, they run the risk that by doing so, they abandon the growing section of the consumer base that demands digital interaction. The danger for companies here is that it leaves the digital field completely open to Insuretech companies, who are already in a position to reach out to the locked-down masses and build new relationships. A platform with a broad ecosystem enables existing providers to market the strength of their brand whilst creating a far greater range of digital experiences to move into new markets of the post-virus world.

 This is not the time to be seeking to just tread water until business gets back to normal – it never will. Instead, life and pension providers should be investing in the acceleration of their digital strategies and seeking to build broad ecosystems to meet the needs of the accelerated digital environment that the crisis has brought about. Those life and pension providers who don’t will be left behind in the post-Covid19 world.


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