CES 2020: Big Themes Relevant for P&C Insurance

Each of these areas will influence customers, risks, and operations over time, but the four themes identified in this piece are most likely to have the biggest near-term impact on the industry.

(Image source: Hyundai.)

The annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (CES) is where the latest TVs, smartphones, and a plethora of smart gadgets of every imaginable kind are introduced and on display. This year the press is breathlessly reporting on the latest in tech that relates to every area of human endeavor, including areas like sports, transportation, beauty, sleep, baby care, learning, fitness, and much more.

There are top themes or top 10 CES innovations articles from every major press outlet—everyone has their own perspective. The reason that I personally attend CES every year is to see the technology innovations and then think about them in the context of the insurance industry. While things like 8K TVs or digital appliances are of interest to all of us, there are many other tech products and advancements that have important implications for property/casualty insurance. Within that framework, let me present what I believe are the big themes of interest to insurance.

  1. Security and Privacy: This might just be the biggest overarching theme of the event. The advent of regulations like GDPR in Europe and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), coupled with the intense dialogue in society about these topics, has resulted in many companies coming forward with new or improved products. There were hundreds of new solutions, including those aimed at specific domains like smart homes or connected vehicles, payments, security for personal devices and/or personal digital data, and others focused on areas like the IoT infrastructure. Expect this area to continue to be a big focus as both individuals and businesses grapple with cyber-risk and the issues of data ownership/sharing.
  2. The Expanding Mobility Ecosystem: The automotive ecosystem was already complex before the digital age, but now there are increasing numbers and types of companies offering new capabilities and services. As vehicles continue to “become computers on wheels,” the expectation is that occupants will be able to conduct, from their vehicles, every type of digital interaction that they can now do from their office or their living room couch. Look for more details on this in my companion blog, CES2020: Digital In-Car Experiences and Distracted Driving.
  3. AI and Voice Everywhere: These technologies were prominent at CES2019, but the tech continues to advance and become embedded in more and more products. Voice is poised to become a dominant way that we interact with the smart, digital world around us. AI is becoming not only pervasive but, in many cases, invisible. The Consumer Technology Association describes it as the Consumerization of AI.
  4. Smart Tech for Commercial Vehicles: Just to reinforce what we at SMA have been saying for some time, it looks like connected, autonomous vehicles will have the most practical, real-world applications in commercial vehicles over the next few years. The options for autonomous public transportation vehicles continue to expand, and the use cases in controlled environments are many. Personal automobiles continue to add and enhance automated driver assist systems (ADAS) features and advance up the autonomy levels. But the many challenges of autonomous personal vehicles on the open roads mean that, while the potential is tremendous, the reality is many years away.

There are many other interesting products that insurers should follow, especially those in the health and wellness areas, drones, AR/VR, and others. Each of these areas will influence customers, risks, and operations over time, but the four themes identified in this piece are most likely to have the biggest near-term impact on the industry.

A Glance Back over the Last Two Decades of Insurance Technology

Mark Breading // Mark Breading, a Partner at Strategy Meets Action, is known for his insights on the future of the insurance industry and innovative uses of technology. Mark consults with insurers and technology companies on forward thinking strategies for success in the digital age. Mark also leads SMA’s research program, has overseen the publication of over one hundred research reports, and directed custom research projects for insurer and tech clients. His thought leadership in the areas of InsurTech, emerging technologies, customer experience, and digital strategies has earned him rankings as one of the “Top Global Influencers in InsurTech” by InsurTech News and Onalytica and a place in the 10 finalists for the “Top Global IoT in Insurance Influencer Award.”

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