Transforming Insurance: The Impact of AI, ML, IoT, and Big Data on Distribution and Consumption

Bragadish Sureshkumar, Chief Technology Officer, Zopper, emphasizes the importance of automation, data analytics, and cloud technologies in developing efficient, personalized, and customer-centric insurance solutions. 

As the insurance world undergoes a dramatic digital transformation, the insurTech sector finds itself at the forefront of some of the most groundbreaking technological advancements. In an exclusive interview with Bragadish Sureshkumar, Chief Technology Officer at Zopper, CIO&Leader, delves deep into the emerging trends and future prospects of insurance distribution and technology.

This conversation with Sureshkumar offers a comprehensive look into how emerging technologies like Big Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and the Internet of Things (IoT) are reshaping the way insurance products are distributed and consumed. From discussing the profound impacts of AI and ML in refining insurance offerings and enhancing customer experiences to exploring the revolutionary potential of blockchain technology in the sector, Sureshkumar provides a holistic overview of the current trends and future directions in insurTech.

Sureshkumar also sheds light on how Zopper harnesses these technologies to innovate and stay ahead in a competitive market. Furthermore, he touches upon the relevance of emerging trends like augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR), and the significance of cybersecurity in an industry dealing with sensitive data.

CIO&Leader: As the insurTech landscape evolves, what emerging technology trends do you see as pivotal in shaping the future of insurance distribution?
Bragadish Sureshkumar: In today’s digital age, insurance providers actively seek innovative approaches to enhance their operational speed and agility and broaden their customer outreach in insurance distribution. Notably, cutting-edge technologies like Big Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Machine Learning (ML) are pivotal in automating and streamlining various aspects of insurance distribution. These encompass lead generation, quote generation, policy issuance, and the deployment of conversational bots that cater to the personalized insurance needs of individual customers.
Moreover, the emergence of blockchain technology is set to revolutionize the insurance landscape. It will facilitate the establishment of decentralized smart contracts, fostering secure data exchange between insurers and other stakeholders while concurrently mitigating the risk of fraudulent activities.
The near future promises to integrate Internet of Things (IoT) technology into insurance operations. This will play a major role in creating and delivering usage-based insurance products, particularly within the realms of telematics and parametric insurance. Such advancements are poised to provide more precise risk assessments and tailored pricing structures, aligning insurance solutions more closely with customer needs and behavior.

CIO&Leader: With the rise of AI and machine learning in various industries, how do you envision these technologies refining insurance offerings and enhancing customer experiences?
Bragadish Sureshkumar: AI and ML offer many applications, ranging from analyzing customer data and risk variables to creating highly personalized insurance product offerings, ultimately elevating the quality of customer interactions. Notably, these technologies drive efficiency and effectiveness improvements throughout the insurance value chain, encompassing underwriting, risk assessment, claims processing, and customer service.
AI’s capacity to provide round-the-clock customer support and deliver prompt, precise responses to customer inquiries is particularly impactful. This capability contributes significantly to heightened customer satisfaction and fosters stronger customer loyalty, as clients benefit from more immediate and accurate support.

CIO&Leader: The API economy is making significant strides. In your opinion, how can an insurance infrastructure API platform stand out in this competitive space and ensure a seamless experience for partners and customers?
Bragadish Sureshkumar: At Zopper, we work to offer bespoke solutions that are highly customizable to our partners, and the infrastructure API platform enables exactly that. The ready-to-deploy APIs are the fundamental building blocks for stitching together tailor-made solutions for seamless partner and customer experiences. It integrates and connects our partner systems and services in a way that’s never been done before, where partners can quickly and easily access the insurance data they need to innovate and enhance customer experiences.

CIO&Leader: Personalization is increasingly becoming crucial in the digital age. How can data analytics be utilized to offer tailored insurance solutions for different customer segments?

Bragadish Sureshkumar: Data analytics plays a big role in personalization in this digital age. We have developed AI ML models that actively learn by ingesting this data and provide next-level experience to customers as the system learns and adapts to customer behavior in real-time.

CIO&Leader: How do you prioritize cybersecurity, especially given the sensitive nature of insurance data? 
Bragadish Sureshkumar: Cyber Security is a top priority at Zopper, given the sensitive nature of insurance data, customers’ personal KYC data, and financial information. The key to ensuring required protection is to implement comprehensive technical safeguards, conduct regular risk assessments, continuously monitor systems & networks, and provide security training, and cultivate awareness regarding best practices among employees and partners.

CIO&Leader: As IoT (Internet of Things) expands, how do you see it influencing the insurtech sector? What potential changes might it bring about in how consumers interact with insurance products?
Bragadish Sureshkumar: IoT has the potential to fundamentally change the way consumers view insurance. For example, in Telematics or usage-based insurance like “Pay as you drive” car insurance, the consumer pays premiums based on car usage or even driving behavior. IoT sensors and technology can make that a reality and will change the game as we evolve towards new-age insurance.

CIO&Leader: Given the fast pace of technological advancements, how can insurTech companies ensure that their tech stacks remain agile and future-proof?
Bragadish Sureshkumar: Continuous and sustained innovation is the key to remaining future-proof. That is why we at Zopper continue experimenting and assessing our offerings to ensure long-term success. It is essential to stay ahead of the curve, understand the needs of our ecosystem partners, and adapt to evolving business requirements and customer behavior.

CIO&Leader: Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are emerging as influential tools in many sectors. How do you anticipate these technologies playing a role in the insurTech space?
Bragadish Sureshkumar: Technologies like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) tend to blur the lines between the physical and the digital world.  It provides opportunities for insurers to develop new business and risk strategies. For example, in the metaverse, digital assets like NFTs and virtual real-estates where individual users have invested several thousand or even millions of US dollars necessitate protection from financial risks. Again, these technologies are in the early stages and continue to evolve. It will be interesting to observe how these avenues become mediums to distribute digital insurance in the near future. 

CIO&Leader: Adopting cloud technologies has transformed data storage and accessibility across industries. How can these technologies be leveraged to enhance services and operations in insurTech?
Bragadish Sureshkumar: Cloud storage provides a secure and scalable way to store and access large amounts of data. This is essential for insurtech companies, as we need to collect and analyze a wide variety of data to assess risk, recommend plans, price policies, and process claims.

CIO&Leader: As technological convergence continues, are there any non-insurance tech trends or innovations that you believe the insurTech industry should closely monitor for potential integration? 
Bragadish Sureshkumar: One such trend is ONDC, a Government of India initiative that has great potential to revolutionize digital e-commerce within India. We closely monitor developments in this space for potential insurance distribution and servicing integration.

CIO&Leader: Zopper’s approach to insurance incorporates a variety of tech-driven solutions. Can you describe the core technological innovations that have been game-changers for Zopper?
Bragadish Sureshkumar: We have always built products and evolved our technology to align with the needs of our ecosystem partners. Our recent focus has been to quickly deliver an aggregation platform digitizing the firm’s existing insurance partner relationships and accelerating the implementation of such a tailor-made solution. We understand the complexities involved and have innovated our products around the fact that the partners need to go to market in the shortest time possible, which is a real game changer for us. 

CIO&Leader: Blockchain technology promises transparency and security in transactions. Is Zopper exploring or integrating blockchain into its insurTech solutions? If so, how?  

Bragadish Sureshkumar: Blockchain is in the early stages of adoption within the Insurance industry but can potentially transform it significantly. While decentralized smart contracts are gaining popularity, compelling use cases are around securely sharing insurance data, automated claim settlements, and reducing fraud. We closely follow the developments in this space and are adequately prepared to address any opportunities as needed. 

Image Source: Freepik

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