Luke Holloway reports on the innovative 'Hackathon' initiative held recently at this year's BIBA Conference
This year, BIBA 2018 hosted a brand-new innovation challenge named the Hackathon, aimed at helping to demystify the rapidly-growing world of insurtech and at solving real problems faced by today's insurance brokers.
The six-hour initiative was held live at the conference and involved specially selected teams of tech-savvy thinkers from cutting edge startups and innovative insurers. The teams were given problems to address and went about finding solutions using data, research, facts and figures, after which they were asked to present their findings to a panel of judges, where the winning idea would be shared with the audience of thousands.
Andy Thornley, head of corporate affairs at BIBA, was instrumental in organising the Hackathon and explained that the challenges set all had a common theme; helping to improve the brokers' bottom line. This ranged from developing an enhanced customer understanding, to removing inefficiencies in the day-to-day businesses.
"Our aim for the Hackathon was twofold," said Mr Thornley. "We wanted to engage an incumbent insurance broking market to understand how new tools and technologies could make a real difference to their customers and their businesses.
"Secondly, we also wanted to demonstrate to the insurtech community that there is a huge market, one that places 93% of commercial premiums, that they can collaborate with. Being the largest insurance broking conference in the world, we had the ideal platform to be able to do this."
The triumphant team was led by Renaud Million, CEO and co-founder of insurtech company Spixii, and included members from Brokerbility, Konsileo and BHIB, as well as Emma Pegg, Mr Million's colleague and head of content at Spixii.
"Our challenge was based around a better understanding of customers and providing brokers with a data-enriched, single view of the customer -- which of course seemed a very broad proposition," said Mr Million. "So at first it was not about finding a solution but defining the problem."
As most members of the team had only met briefly over a WhatsApp group before the event, part of the process was getting to know one another and gauge where the group's strengths lay, as well as building working relationships and team spirit.
"It was important to get to know each other and to hear the voice of everyone," said Mr Million. "We named ourselves Spotlight, as we thought we would have to shine a light on the right spot in the data! It became a running joke among the team throughout the day and we tried not to take ourselves too seriously, having fun while working hard and following a plan."
Spotlight set out to interview as many different brokers as possible, gathering their perception of what this proposition meant to them and to understand their customer experiences. From there, they began to craft what this 'single view' of what the proposition could be.
"With the implementation of GDPR coming into effect, we found that was on a lot of brokers' minds," Ms Pegg told us. "One interesting point was: if companies kept all their data in one single place, would it be more secure or more at risk?
"Lack of real-time data was another big issue, along with the overall public perception of insurance in general. Time and time again, however, brokers spoke about the importance of making everything insurers do ultimately about the customer," said Ms Pegg.
The team's main findings included several main areas, one of which was how often insurers contact clients. "Touchpoints between brokers and customers are quite infrequent -- price, policy, renewal, claim," explained
Mr Million, "so we tried to find advances in the data that could trigger direction towards being more frequent -- and that is what our Spotlight platform aimed to do.
"We were able to highlight other sources of data, using experts and leveraging these sources onsite to package it all into a solution, augmenting the skills and the scope of the brokers and creating a product to provide more value to their customers," he added.
Mr Thornley said it was encouraging to see the Hackathon teams approach their challenges with such positivity and fresh thinking. "A few years ago, the word we used most when referring to insurtech was 'disruption'," said
Mr Thornley. "Fast-forward two years, and the key word we're using now is 'collaboration'. While the threat of disintermediation is still present, the risk of this can be offset by partnering with firms already in this space.
"As well as demonstrating both innovation and collaboration in action, the key success at the conference for me was seeing a bunch of grassroots conversations happening, as brokers started to see through the waffle and confusing lexicon and started seeing the key business benefits that technology can bring," he said.
"Our Cross-industry Innovation Working Group has been doing magnificent work in helping to increase adoption of insurtech across the industry and the Hackathon was a key deliverable in the work we've done so far," said Mr Thornley.
"I've been extremely proud to lead BIBA's work in this area and we're genuinely beginning to see a change in attitudes and adoption. And long may that continue".