CES 2019: Data, AI, Voice Technology among Most Important for Insurers

While the urgency of autonomous vehicles may have waned, ‘deep data,’ AI, and voice technology show developments that insurers need to keep up with.

(On Jan. 8, attendees arrive for the opening day of CES 2019. Source: CTA.)

Every January the CES show shines a light into the way various electronic and connected capabilities are likely to transform the way we live. The way consumers live is of course relevant to how insurers interact with them. For that reason, some of the industry’s distinguished technology commentators attend the show to see what it might mean for insurers.

Mark Breading, Partner, SMA.

The Consumer Technology Association (Arlington, Va.), in its opening session of CES 2019 declared that we are now in the age of data. Mark Breading, a partner at SMA (Boston) present at the show, identified data as the overarching theme of the conference on various levels, including the dimension of security and privacy concerns as AI continues to evolve. The show featured multiple solutions dedicated to capturing, securing, transmitting, managing, analyzing, manipulating data, including new ways of visualizing date through new UIs.

“IBM’s Ginni Rometty discussed the notion of deep data—the 99 percent of data emitted in the world that is not even captured or analyzed today,” Breading reports. “There was a great deal of discussion and messaging around safety, security, and privacy, mirroring many of the societal debates about data, its ownership, and its usage.”

Much of that “deep data” has potential for use in problems in areas such as healthcare and environmental issues, according to Breading. Rometty offered the example of a sensor IBM has created to collected real-time data from a person’s fingernails—which can provide early indications of serious health issues. Rometty also spoke of truly real-time, accurate weather forecasts for every part of the globe based on a denser array of sensors distributed globally. The advances in weather technology have bearing on the property/casualty industry, and biometric technology bears on life insurance, Breading notes. “We already see insurers of all stripes trying to use more data sources for risk assessment for vehicles, property etc.,” he comments. “They can be expected to start layering in more real-time data about the surrounding environmental conditions, and emerging technologies create many possibilities in this regard.”

AI was ubiquitous at CES 2019, giving the impression that nearly every session and every product had something to day about this technology area, according to Breading. (See also SMA analyst Karen Pauli’s essay this week in IIR: “2019: AI Steps Out of the Headlines, into Practical Solutions”). Blockchain also seems to be making its way into the mainstream with many products and solutions touting the technology, according to Breading.

“It is also interesting to observe that an event that started as one focused on consumers and electronics has morphed into an event about how technology is transforming all aspects of our world. Much discussion and many products are aimed at solving the world’s problems related to natural resources, healthcare, accessibility, disasters and other important topics,” Breading adds.

Donald Light, Director, North America Property/Casualty Practice, Celent.

Long-time CES observer Donald Light, Director, North America Property Casualty Practice, Celent (Boston) found that this year’s CES confirmed that Level 5 fully autonomous vehicles are still a long way off, which may be a relief for insurers. (Click here for more detailed observations about CES from Light). That said, he advises insurers that a better understanding of the risks and loss mitigation benefits of current and future ADAS solutions can help them to gain a competitive advantage.

Insurers Ignore Voice Technology at Their Peril

The advance of voice technology is a more urgent matter, as revealed at CES 2019, in Light’s view. He says that insurers ignore voice at their own peril, as current and next-generation virtual assistants become more embedded in policyholders’ homes, cars, and lives. Connected home technology continues to grow in importance for insurers, according to Light. “As connected homes mature and become more common, the opportunities for homeowners—and commercial property—insurers to increase the depth and breadth of their engagement with policyholders and provide services beyond loss indemnification will increase apace,” he says.

CES 2019: Voice, Connected Homes, and Not-So-Autonomous Cars V 2.

Anthony R. O’Donnell // Anthony O'Donnell is Executive Editor of Insurance Innovation Reporter. For nearly two decades, he has been an observer and commentator on the use of information technology in the insurance industry, following industry trends and writing about the use of IT across all sectors of the insurance industry. He can be reached at AnthODonnell@IIReporter.com or (503) 936-2803.

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