By Dylan Jones
At the beginning of this week I was lucky enough to attend the Insurance IoT Europe Summit in London. The discussion featured both speakers in London and form New York, via a live link between the countries. This enabled a wider panel of discussion and also meant that more questions were asked by the audience who had different ways of thinking about issues, thereby making it more interesting than the usual bog-standard conference.
The majority of the discussion that occurred was about how the Internet of things will revolutionise customer’s home spaces and ways to engage with potential customers. Though on the surface it may not seem like an event a finance publication should visit, there was a lot of information which was absorbed that can be applied to greater fields of practice.
Predominantly, the message that was enforced from the event was ways in which to listen to customers. It’s a well-known fact that companies, especially financial institutions, have a lot of data on the average individual, but they need to realize the exact value of the digital world’s gold.
A lot of companies appear to be tip-toeing around the usage of data, or lack the knowledge on how to acquire more of it from customers. Praveen Velichety, the digital and Internet of Things leader at IBM, bespoke some words of wisdom; “a lot of people are willing to give up stuff to get stuff”, when discussing getting more data. He acknowledged the idea that it may be hard to convince people to give up certain data about themselves, but reminded the audience that “in giving up data, transparency is needed”.
The problem at the moment is what Velichety coins as a “Peter Pan problem; we’re afraid of growing up”. This is relevant in any business that sells to customers as people don’t always know what they want.
Andrew Brem, CTO at Aviva, carried along the event in a very charismatic way, making attuned points regarding the IoT. Brem crafted a story on how the IoT will completely transform the lives of individuals and businesses over the upcoming years. He explained how the technology will make customers pay more attention to important things in life such as energy consumption for example.
With the creation of apps came conversation and competition, a critical component within the industry. Through this technology came companies such as comparison sites and scoring sites, which enabled easier and smarter decision making both on an individual and business level, whether it be to do with financing or customer service.
Through the acquisition of more and more data around customers, the better the customer service a company can provide. Businesses merely need to grow up, to paraphrase Velichety, and be transparent with what and why they need data from customers and offer incentives for them to give it up, whether it is rewards or a more accurate credit rating.
People want to be connected from anybody-to-anybody while having privacy at the same time and this is the challenge which companies face. While the Internet of Things is busy trying to connect devices, financial services should be busy trying to connect people with these devices.