Nearly two-thirds of insurers say that wearable technologieswill be adopted broadly by the insurance industry by 2017,according to Accenture, and 31% say they already are usingwearables to engage customers, employees or partners.

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In the report, "Accenture Technology Vision for Insurance2015—Digital Insurance Era: Stretch Your Boundaries," the global management consulting, technology services andoutsourcing company identifies five emerging developments in ITthat will have the greatest impact on insurers within the next fiveyears:

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    1. Internet of me
    2. Outcome economy
    3. Platform revolution
    4. Intelligent enterprise
    5. Reimagined workforce

As everyday objects go online, so do customer experiences: "Mynewsfeed" and "my playlist" have led the way toward emergingtechnologies, which weave together customers' preferences andhabits. This personalized revolution offers opportunity forinsurers in channels such as wearables, connected TVs, connectedcars and other smart objects.

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[Related: Wearable technology: Risks andopportunities]

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Nearly three-quarters (73%) of executive insurer respondents saythat providing a personalized customer experience is one of theirtop three priorities within the organization, and 50% claim toalready see a positive return from their investment in personalizedtechnologies.

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"While insurers have traditionally based their underwriting andpricing processes on a limited view of certain customer variables,emerging technologies such as wearables and other connected devicescan help insurers break from their traditional business models andprovide outcome-based services for their customers," says JohnCusano, senior managing director of Accenture's global Insurancepractice, in a statement.  "For instance, one leadinginsurer recently announced that it will provide new policyholderswith a free fitness band to track their health progress — and thenreward their healthy living with a reduction in life insurancepremiums."

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Smart watch

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(Photo: Shutterstock.com)

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Achieve better business outcomes

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As leading insurers come face-to-face with the Internet of me,they are uncovering opportunities to embed software intelligence intheir digital toolboxes, the report says. These highly connectedcomponents give customers what they really want: More meaningfuloutcomes—not more products and services—such as helping arestaurant owner proactive manage business risks, rather thaninsuring his business against fire and theft.

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Insurers also are upgrading their digital industry platforms andecosystems to meet customers' needs. These platforms "serve as apool of reusable functionality and capabilities to make buildingand evolving applications quick and easy—and to help companiesultimately achieve better business outcomes," the report says.

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Seventy-seven percent of insurer respondents agree thatcompanies will move toward real-time platforms as enterprises adoptmobility and Internet-of-Things solutions. To meet these goals, 77%are using or experimenting with open innovation to integrateapplications and collaborate with business partners, and 51% planto partner with major digital technology and cloud platform leadersin the next two years.

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Software intelligence will take insurance to the nextlevel

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The next level of operation management will merge from gains insoftware intelligence, in part due to the influx of big data."Business and technology leaders at insurance carriers must nowview software intelligence not as a pilot or one-off project, butas an across-the-board functionality," Accenture states in itsreport.

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However, access to large volumes of new data is causingchallenges, as the survey found that more than half of insurersstruggle to fully use their existing data. Fifty-six percent saythat managing data is "extremely" or "very challenging" consideringthe changes in volume, variety and velocity. 

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The push to go digital amplifies the need for humans andmachines to do more, together. "The next-generation insurancecompany will benefit from human and technology collaboration, withworkers leveraging new technologies such as wearables to augmenttheir abilities and help them make better decisions," says ThomasMeyer, managing director of Accenture's Insurance practice inEurope, Africa and Latin America, in a statement.

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The survey reports that two-thirds (66%) of insurers experimentwith intelligence technology, and 76% predict that successfulbusinesses will soon manage employees alongside intelligentmachines.

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