CEO Rishi Daga in PropertyCasualty360: Insurers: It’s time to rethink the ‘way we’ve always done it’
In an era of social distancing, available digital technologies can enable remote or virtual operations.
By Rishi Daga, CEO, EagleView
A highly contagious and too-often deadly virus has pushed many industries, including insurance, to a major inflection point. As we continue adjusting to events, some wonder when or if we will return to “normal.” Others — and I number myself among them — hope we evolve to a new and better “normal.” This hope is credible because packaged along with the risk and the disruption of COVID-19 has been a rare opportunity: fertile ground for overdue change.
Remember when the local Radio Shack was the place to go for cutting-edge electronics? Today, with the Information Age reaching 50, that iconic brick-and-mortar store is gone, and everything it sold has collapsed into the palm of your hand. In one sleek device, you carry a telephone and answering machine, a camera, camcorder, audio recorder, radio, alarm clock, music player, a navigation device, calculator, computer, flashlight, television and more. And they all work together as a seamless, simple flow that delights the user.
Insurers, too, must pull the plug on the “Radio Shack ways” of siloed components and analog processes.
I lead a business that, for 20 years, has sought to both augment the human eye and protect human life with a camera lens and digital science. For multiple industries, including insurance, aerial imagery is a measurably safer, faster, and more economical way to distance people from danger and still see what is or is not there.
These benefits are amplified when the imagery is coupled with machine learning, computer vision and artificial intelligence. Jargon removed, here is an example: hail can do serious damage, minor damage, or none at all. But machines can be taught to differentiate hail impacts from age, routine wear and tear, and even the fraud of a ball-peen hammer. Employee or adjuster falls from a customer’s roof cannot happen if an airborne camera collects the needed data instead.
Creating positive social distance
Before this global pandemic, few businesses had found palatable ways to distance their employees. But if this time has proved anything, it’s that available digital technologies can enable remote or virtual operations, and where there is a will, there is always a way.
A good manager of people and processes does not need to see bent heads at desks to know work is getting done. Instead, that manager needs to see quality work outputs and seamless hand-offs from one dependency to the next in the workflow. Likewise, an insurance adjuster does not need to climb a ladder and personally witness and measure a damaged roof to provide excellent claim service.
It’s all about the tools.
Today’s workforce tools drive quality remote collaboration and virtual communication that connect people several time zones apart — and may also tempt office-based workers to “zoom in” to a conference room just down the hall. Distance working is not new, but its potential has been underexplored.
Email revolutionized work in the ‘90s. Mobile phones changed the world in the ‘00s. Collaborative, cloud-based platforms have brought transformation in the last decade. Similarly, digital imagery has been maturing at a jaw-dropping pace. Images from fixed-wing planes are 16 times clearer than those of satellites, and as for drones, just throw a dime onto a roof. Today’s devices will find it and return images so clear you can read the word “LIBERTY” stamped on it.
COVID-19 has introduced major considerations about even modest gatherings of people or close contact among them. Even as venues reopen, they are merely providing more locations for social distancing. And these requirements are likely to linger for the foreseeable future.
It is incumbent on businesses at this inflection point to make changes for the benefit of all — employees, customers, vendors and investors. Eventually, those who do not will be unplugged themselves.
Those who win will adopt industrial-strength remote and virtual technologies. They will devise “business distancing” strategies for all areas of their business. And in doing that successfully, they will keep customers closer than ever.