Even though many of our clients provide software and services to the insurance industry, it’s hard to know, sometimes, where the insurance industry stands on technology. It seems as if we go from one extreme to the other: There are posts about research reports touting emerging technologies. Then there are research reports about emerging technologies. And … oh, look! … a blog post on emerging technologies!

On the other hand, we’re also hearing comments like this: “I think insurance is in the Stone Age while other people are circling Mars.” So, where does the truth lie? As always, in the middle.

The fact is the insurance industry doesn’t exist to introduce or pioneer technology. But you’d never know that from reading most of the industry literature. That would have you believe driverless cars, programmed with nanotechnology and controlled by mobile devices, were being monitored by drones carrying wearables, running applications from the cloud, connected to the Internet of Everything. Not likely.

As implausible as it seems given the fact that the speed of consumer adoption of technologies far outpaces entire industry adoptions of technologies, even the retail industry is having trouble adjusting to mobile. So, we shouldn’t be surprised that the tried, true, and deeply entrenched do not go gentle into that good night — especially when there’s money on the table that we won’t be able to count until next year when we know our claims experience from this year.

Consider this: When’s the last time you read an article about the number of insurance companies still working on green screens? Many insurers still do. When’s the last time you heard anyone admit to still using a dial-up modem? Some people still do. When’s the last time you heard anyone in any industry say anything other than their technologies were emerging, disruptive, or innovative? And why do you think that is?

It’s because talk is cheap. It’s also less expensive and more practical than chasing the rainbow and betting the ranch on emerging technologies.

And speaking of practical, is any industry more practical than insurance? Insurance has to be practical by definition. If you’re in the business of reserving the premiums of your policyholders against potential losses, what else could you be?

Yes. Like every other industry, insurance needs to keep its eye on emerging technologies. But its first look has to be at reliable ways in which to serve its constituents, minimally risky ways in which to deliver its products and services. If insurers spent their time and attention pursuing emerging technologies, how much would be left in which to satisfy and retain their policyholders?

We love our clients. They’re in the technology business. But their customers are in the insurance business.

For them, technology will emerge as it can.

Image by Remember the dot at en.wikipedia (PNG), via Wikimedia Commons.