Humanity stands at the brink of another data revolution. Devices connected to the Internet will measure every area of our lives. This will, however, increase awareness about data and the willingness to share this information with companies like Facebook or Google will drop as a result. Neutral platforms will be in demand. When insurers gain the trust of their customers, they will be informed about the most important risk categories of their customers in the future. They can become an important life companion.
The human being has never been subjected to such a fast-paced life as that in our world today. Everything will be faster and more efficient. During this time, a key figure for companies is becoming more and more important: How much time of the day does the customer give us? One thing, for certain, does not grow: the number of hours in a day. In our information-flooded world, the fight for the customer’s attention is becoming increasingly important for all companies and industries.
According to a study by Flurry, an analysis company, US consumers now spend about five hours of a day on mobile devices. 19 percent of the time is spent on Facebook, 15 percent on music and entertainment apps, 12 percent on so-called messaging apps, and 11 percent on gaming apps. It is therefore not surprising that financial services – and insurance in particular – do not play any role whatsoever in the consumer’s everyday life. The reason for this is obvious: Choosing insurance products is done once, after which people do not want to have anything to do with them anymore. But this will change dramatically over the next few years.
We are currently at the end of the first data revolution. This was characterized by the invention of the Internet. The result of this is that the five most valuable companies in the world are all tech companies: Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook – these companies govern the world. They have managed to use the Internet in an ingenious way in order to get data from consumers and then found ways to monetarise them. Consumers have told these companies where they want to go, what they like and what they spend money on, etc.
There are, however, more and more signs around us that the first data revolution is about to come to an end, and that our world will once again go through massive changes – but the consequences will be greater than the invention of the Internet: We are rolling towards the second data revolution.
Missing consciousness for data
By 2020, more than 50 billion devices will be connected to the Internet. These devices will measure every area of our lives. They will measure what is happening around, but also inside our bodies. In just a few years, it will be quite normal for an invasive chip to be “implanted” into a newborn child after birth – and not because a dark power wants it, but because the parents want to make sure the child will not die of sudden infant death syndrome. The greatest question of the next age will be: Which company, which institution or which data partner do I connect my newborn baby with? Do I trust data leeches such as Facebook or Google? The turning point will soon come, when people will no longer be willing to share their sensitive data with these companies.
The basis of the second data revolution consists of a lack of awareness for shared information. Companies that have access to data that the customer is not himself conscious of can use this knowledge to make strategic decisions that could harm the development of humankind due to the false incentivation that private companies have by nature.
As a result of the massive increase in connected devices and the increasing visibility of socioeconomic consequences, this awareness will continue to grow worldwide and lead to the need for an independent, global “data intermediary” – a sort of “UN for data”. Everyone will connect their devices to this platform and get their own data profile. In contrast to the first data revolution, however, this data will not be owned by any private company – no: it will belong to the human being and all data will irrevocably be deleted upon request. The global “UN for data” will be based on decentralized technology and a decentralized form of organization, so that this sensitive data about people’s lives never falls into the wrong hands.
Sensors record everything about an individual’s life
The role of companies will surely change in this world. Instead of being in possession of customer data, they will only be informed about relevant status changes in the lives of their customers. For example, sensors show that the customer is currently on a ski slope. The insurance company is informed about this, but does not know which ski resort it is nor its exact location. The insurance company can then react in real-time and adapt the tariff of the customer. The customer can release different relevant data to the company and if the company’s offered service is not good enough, the data supply is disconnected.
For insurers, this means that when they receive the trust of end users, they are informed of the status changes in the most relevant risk categories for customers: genetics/health, behaviour and assets – in real-time. Risk models are no longer based on a limited number of variables, but on an unlimited number – collected via sensors in the body and life of the customer. Risks are assessed in real-time. Insurance, as a product, is developing into a sort of life-coaching for the consumer. In the future, decisions for people will no longer be affected by gut feeling or experience, but based on the actual risk of the said decision.
In addition, another massive trend will develop: people’s life span will be significantly longer. The renowned scientist Aubrey de Gray is the core of a growing movement of scientists who are convinced that the first person, who will become over 1000 years old, has already been born. This increases the importance of daily decisions enormously, as the consequences of risky decisions must no longer be carried around for several decades, but maybe for several centuries. In this new world, insurance will become one of the most relevant areas of our daily life – more relevant than Facebook, music and entertainment, messaging and gaming.