Author Archives: Basant Baruah

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Basant Baruah is our Senior Marketing Communications Executive who brings the best of both worlds: flair for content writing and skills in the technical aspects of content marketing. He has crafted content in both B2B and B2C domains. He loves a discussion on Technology, Marketing, and Football - in no particular order.
Insurance

How Technology in P&C Insurance Enhances Profitability and Customer Engagement

P&C insurance and technology

As an industry, insurance is often considered to be evergreen in terms of profitability. However, while demand for insurance has grown globally, insurance providers are facing a number of challenges that affect profitability.

According to a McKinsey report, profits reduced by around 15 percent compared to 2019, and premium growth had slowed to around 1.2 percent in 2020, compared with over 4 percent growth in the decade between 2010 and 2020. However, post COVID-19, insurance companies are poised to take advantage of the rebound. Based on a survey of over 424 insurance respondents, the Deloitte Centre for Financial Services reports that insurance companies have an optimistic outlook, while the Swiss Re Institute predicts rising demand worldwide, with premiums for all lines rebounding by 3.9 percent in 2022, as compared to the earlier drop of 1.3 percent in 2020.

Despite the opportunity, risk factors have increased and insurers are aware of the need to deal with challenges facing the industry and build business resilience. Across the insurance sector, there is a higher claims incidence, leading to increased pay outs and loss of profitability. Insurers need to maintain higher capital because of regulatory pressures. They are also facing increasing competition from new entrants in insurtech.

Property & casualty insurance at a pivotal stage

The US property and casualty (P&C) insurance market is a case in point. Not so long ago it was the pandemic that was keeping insurers awake at night. Now, inflation is putting them to the test. The US holds the biggest market share of P&C insurance and is among the most mature geographies for insurance. However, inflationary pressures are significantly holding down P&C insurance carriers. Although the market grew by a moderate 4.7% between 2018-19, these challenges are dampening future prospects.

Opportunities in P&C are rising, but insurers are weighed down by market volatility, changing customer expectations, and loss of profitability to name a few. Given the uncertainty of tomorrow, P&C insurers need to build business resilience – the ability to endure present challenges and be ready for future shocks and negative events.

The insurance industry is learning from the success of insurtechs and waking up to the advantages of strengthening customer connections by going digital. One of the biggest positives in recent years is the accelerated digitalization that enables non-face-to-face interactions between the insurer and the insured. Today, customers want more intuitive, user-friendly apps that will help them gain quick access to relevant data that will help make the right choices for their insurance needs, streamline processes, and more. They also expect 24/7 assistance in making decisions. Research indicates that a good number of respondents are ready to move away from insurance companies that do not offer these advantages.

Consumer insurance buying preferences

Source: Accenture

Building resilience in P&C insurance with technology

As P&C insurance is complexity-ridden and highly regulated, the way forward needs to be holistic and future-ready. Resilience is key to countering market volatility, inflationary pressures, and intense competition – that means becoming nimble, responsive, and well-prepared for all the odds. These challenges, considered together, call for a major shift in strategy by traditional insurance players.

Technology can provide P&C insurance companies with not just the chance to become more future-ready but also to differentiate themselves using technology. Insurers can adopt digital to create a wider platform that can connect customers, partners, and employees all at the same time. Tech innovation finds application across the value chain from marketing through distribution, products and services, and throughout backend processes from underwriting to claims. Technology can also help design and create memorable user experiences, engaging with customers more deeply with empathetic, hyper-personalized interactions at various touchpoints of the customer journey.

P&C Insurance value chain

Source: Aite Group

Streamlining claims with automation, AI, and straight-through processing

Automating claims processing, typically a long and tedious task, reduces processing time and cost by programming tools to handle repetitive tasks.

Insurance claim processing comparison

Source: Altexsoft

Self-service in insurance is also becoming popular. One such example is that of easy claims filing online by customers themselves. Apps offer features allowing customers to take photos and upload them while lodging claims for auto insurance from the site of the event itself, enabling remote inspection. This advantage is offered by Bdeo’s AI-enabled platform on their mobile app. In addition, their chatbot uses Natural Language Processing to get reliable information on the accident by ensuring claimants share photographic evidence of acceptable quality on the platform. The insurer uses these inputs as part of their inspection and investigation of the incident remotely. This helps make more accurate evaluations and improves the claim processing experience for both the insurer and claimant.

AI will make it even easier to identify fraudulent claims, as well as provide predictions and estimates of possible damages and extent of losses. In fact, studies indicate that AI has great potential in disrupting core processes including underwriting, claims, marketing by enabling more human-like interactions with customers. Here we illustrate the use of AI in streamlining content extraction that can speed up the processing of claims dramatically while making communication and other value-added services easier to achieve.

AI powered insurance claim processing example

Source: Whatfix

Straight-through processing is another solid investment pathway for insurers – it can be done without any manual input, reduces operational costs, and helps insurers take pricing volatility in their stride. At the same time, policy holders can choose how they want to receive claims settlements in a convenient manner.

Strategic decision-making bolstered by Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

Property and insurance carriers tend to be skeptical about RPA, however RPA has proven to drastically reduce errors, improve operational efficiencies, enhance scalability, and optimize headcounts at financially viable numbers. The benefits of RPA multiple when the insurer decides to automate non-strategic tasks while retaining humans to perform value-added tasks. For example, in auto insurance, gathering and validating information around accident claims from various sources such as police reports of accidents, driver’s licenses, photos of damage to the vehicle(s) involved etc. can be tedious and time-consuming, but RPA can comb through data from various sources quickly.

The true potential of RPA is visible when it is collaboratively applied with other technologies to augment strategic decisions made by the human workforce. In the underwriting process, which is again typically lengthy, bots can leverage AI and analytical capabilities to glean information from both external and internal sources, fill up application forms with appropriate data, assess loss runs, evaluate the claimant’s past track record of claims and settlements, and offer pricing based on this deep well of insights – all in quick time. With RPA, it also becomes easier for insurers to keep up with multiple regulatory standards, which are still evolving and ensure compliance.

Driving responsible customer behavior using telematics

Arriving at the optimal price is foremost for 52% of auto insurance customers and 50% of home insurance customers, as per an Accenture study. Giving their customers optimal pricing will instantly create a competitive advantage for insurers. Telematics applications are already being used to great effect for pricing in the automotive insurance space. Now there is scope to use these applications such as vehicle tracking to instruct and control driver behavior and conditions such as drowsiness, for example.

Smart household or property devices that come alive with the Internet of Things (IoT), will come in handy for closely monitoring data such as humidity and temperature, which could potentially cause damage or depreciation to the home infrastructure or property over time. Data and analytics extracted from these devices can be used to plan risk assessment and inspection of large commercial properties with associated risks. Visuals captured via satellite can be used to draw attention to potential risks or causes of damage to property in a cost-effective manner without requiring an in-person visit from the insurer. These insights can be used by insurers to both monitor and suggest pre-emptive measures around potential risky behavior or lifestyle of policy holders.

Smartening up insurer-insured relationships through smart contracts

As early as 2018, BCG research had predicted that smart contracts could help P&C insurers with savings of more than $200 billion per year in their operational costs.

Here’s why smart contracts are the smart option. These are formulated in lieu of physical insurance policies and all associated claims management information using blockchain technology, which stores transactions as lines of code. Tracking, management, and cloud storage of policies, records of physical assets, and claims-triggering events can all be automated and also takes care of user authentication and detection of fraudulent activities. Smart contracts are easily accessible by insurers, reinsurers, brokers, and other parties thus reducing duplication of effort as well as manual intervention and programmed for claims processing actions automatically.

Unlike physical contracts, smart contracts can track insurance claims and hold both parties accountable. These contracts are, thus, inherently more secure and transparent for users, settle payments on approved claims quickly, and go a long way in lifting the trust factor as well as efficiency of back-end operations.

Ensuring omni-channel customer experience with bots and tools

Keeping up a persistent line of communication with policyholders and prospective customers is important for the insurer in terms of business and keeping customers interested. Chatbots can be introduced early in the discovery or pre-sales stages to initiate conversations about product offerings that might be suitable to customers and prospects. Likewise, the customer’s need for 24/7 assistance and quick responses can be met by chat-bots rather than wait for a human team member who can be freed up to address core service areas. They are already proving popular in the auto and home lines of P&C insurance. For example, Lemonade, who is a leading online P&C insurer, extensively uses app-based chat-bots supported by AI. Their bots are able to devise insurance policies and quotes that are tailored to each customer and available directly on the app. They also interact with and field customer queries while helping process claim applications promptly.

Familiarizing customers and employees with digital adoption platforms

Not all employees are tech savvy. Neither are customers. It makes sense for insurers to invest in training to improve agent performance and customer experience. Integrating training tools with the tech stack adopted by the insurer, will help their workforce and customers effectively use the various tools and processes that are now available to simplify the myriad processes that go into insurance. These include walk-throughs, self-help widgets, quick guides, and AI-enabled assistants for employees.

In conclusion

P&C insurance companies have to work through a maze of challenging situations and gaps as they go about strengthening relationships with customers. AI/ML, IoT, telematics, blockchain, and other emerging technologies can offer a wider, more personalized spectrum of benefits by harnessing data, shaping new offerings like social insurance, and more.

In short, technology can be the bridge that makes interactions meaningful and productive for both insurers and those seeking insurance. It remains to be seen how far P&C insurance players are ready to leap in building the bridge that holds the key to the future.

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Banking Fintech Insurance

InsurTech Challenges and Role of Technology for Growth of Insurance Sector

InsurTech Challenges and Role of Technology for Growth of Insurance Sector

In a world of unpredictable yet unavoidable change, individuals, companies and even governments turn to the insurance sector to be prepared. Insurance needs are changing in many ways, such as including risks related to climate change like floods or bushfires, or even novelties like ‘hole-in-one’ insurance (where a golf tournament insures itself to pay the prize bonanza on the off chance that a hole-in-one is achieved). With an increasingly online generation, even as traditional insurers bank on the credibility and trust they have accumulated, the new age InsurTech companies chip away at the market with digital experiences and new models.

When it comes to innovating with technology, InsurTech companies have an advantage over traditional insurers. They are nimble and flexible with their offerings, able to quickly establish low-cost digital platforms and new operating models. InsurTech companies’ biggest advantage is the hold they have over the customer’s pulse. With smartphones becoming commonplace, customers find that InsurTech offers comfort, convenience, and speed in making important insurance-related decisions and transactions.

Research indicates that 28 of the 280 FinTech firms that have turned unicorns to date have played an instrumental role in driving innovation or disrupting the way insurance is done. From claim management to reinsurance, asset management, customer onboarding, and engagement, InsurTechs have earned their colors across the insurance value chain and are here to stay.

Challenges to InsurTech

Despite these gains, experts believe that InsurTech market growth will have to endure several constraints. Foremost among them is a lack of awareness about the value InsurTech can deliver, and dearth of professionals who can expertly work with advanced technologies. These factors could restrict InsurTech companies from scaling their technology capabilities to the extent desired.

However, it is undisputed that the future of insurance will be tech-driven in the form of embedded ecosystems, AI & ML, blockchain, low code technology, and more. 85% of insurance companies recognize the need to prioritize digitalization, so it may not be long before traditional market leaders catch up with their technology capabilities or look to buy out smaller players. InsurTech start-ups have their work cut out in gaining the kind of trust and credibility enjoyed by established insurers. Now, they must rethink strategy to retain their technology advantage.

Insurance Market Concentration

If we look at the US which is the global market leader, InsurTech is expected to grow at more than 7% CAGR over the next five years. The competition is definitely heating up here.

Read more: The Rise of FinTech in Asia: Success Stories and Learnings

Business opportunities for insurance will continue to flow in as the world becomes increasingly digital. More aspects such as health, travel, auto, and home will be included under the umbrella of online insurance.

InsurTech companies will need rely on their strength – technology – to offer a wider, more personalized range of benefits shaped by data, new offerings like social insurance, and cost saving tools like virtual agents powered by conversational AI etc.

McKinsey research opines that five rapidly advancing technologies will significantly redefine the future of insurance. These include applied AI, distributed infrastructure, future of connectivity, next-level automation, and trust architecture. By putting the full force of their tech advantage here, InsurTech players can solidify their business and expand their portfolio.

1. Powering up core processes with AI

Since the pandemic, at least a quarter of life insurers in the US have expanded their automated underwriting practice to simplify the application process. From reducing claims processing time and cost to improving fraudulent claim detection and claim adjustment processes, AI and automation are proving be invaluable.

Take for example, the AI-enabled platform offered by Bdeo, available on their mobile app. It comes with a chatbot that uses Natural Language Processing principles to liaise with claimants, get first-hand info on the accident/damage that has occurred and helps them share photographic evidence of acceptable quality on the platform. The insurer can use the app to inspect and investigate the incident remotely using computer vision models. Doing so helps avert errors in evaluation and improves the overall claim processing experience for both the insurer and claimant.

Studies predict that AI will disrupt underwriting, claims, marketing, distribution and other core processes by enabling more human-like interactions across various customer touchpoints. There is a plethora of opportunities that can be exploited. For example, the associated customer data can be used for predictive analysis and forecasting, which can in turn, inform the development of new product and service lines.

2. Enabling intelligent insurance with distributed infrastructure on the cloud

Many core insurance processes that have been weighed down by legacy systems are finally modernizing. This allows insurers to leverage cloud-native infrastructure, ramp up to manage workloads without impacting customer experience and speed up their innovation efforts. Thanks to cloud computing, they will be better placed to harness the massive amounts of claim-related data available to benefit their customers and increase profitability.

This is a huge opportunity for traditional insurers to collaborate with InsurTech to form partnerships that leverage their strengths and quickly enable plug-ins, distribution channels, and other value-adds. For instance, InsurTechs can offer digital solutions to efficiently sift through vast historical data of established insurers, to identify and interpret customer patterns and insights to determine the kind of new product/service lines to be developed. In fact, at least 75% of insurers were found to be seeking out InsurTech collaboration to improve their customer experiences according to a Capgemini survey.

3. Developing insurance products using telematics

Telematics technology is increasingly being used to monitor, interpret, even influence consumer behavior. For example, innovation stimulated by IoT adoption is being applied in connected home devices to track humidity, temperature and other parameters, which potentially cause damage to property. Insurers can leverage the data generated on these devices to estimate risk over time. Similar innovations are being explored across the domains of insurance to life, health, auto, manufacturing, commerce etc. The advent of 5G will enable real-time data sharing and make it possible for insurers to turnaround services faster than ever.

For example, being covered against ride cancellations is a value-add for customers and digital solutions can be developed to enable this as a timely service using real-time availability of data. Another example of value-add is the coverage against bodily harm to earners and riders of every trip offered by Uber in partnership with a leading insurer.

4. Enabling human decisions via bots

While robotic process automation (RPA) has proved its worth in automating back-office functions in the insurance industry, there’s a lot it can do in terms of next-level process automation that will shape the future of insurance. For example, the IoT-enabled, real-time monitoring of factory equipment can predict maintenance needs and prevent repair or damage that result in insurance claims.

RPA also has a distinct role to play in supporting human decisions in a cost-effective and timely manner. As an example, it can expedite claims processing wherein photos of the damage to a vehicle are automatically assessed and verified for authenticity without requiring an in-person visit by a claims adjuster to the damage site. Likewise, building optical character recognition features into RPA will help extract text from claim applications in large volumes and ensure that the information it contains is distributed to the right functions for further processing.

5. Laying the foundations for trust with blockchain

Increased digitalization of insurance is raising security concerns due to the sensitive nature of customer data that is being shared across the insurance ecosystem. Building customer trust will be a priority for insurance players, which is where blockchain comes to the rescue.

Along with its advantages of transparency and efficiency, blockchain will play a leading role in helping carriers safeguard customer data from cyberattacks and data breaches. It will also simplify user authentication, identity management, and fraudulent claim detection etc. Through blockchain-based smart contracts, policies can be converted to decentralized lines of codes that will make consumer’s data immutable and easily available for immediate verification in the event of any claims made to the insurer. If it proves to be fraudulent, the contract will immediately be discontinued, and the premium amount paid returned to the insured. This kind of data transparency and responsiveness of the system will help build trust between all concerned parties.

The future of digital insurance paved by tech-led design

As insurance becomes more digitally driven, user experience (UX) will be all the more crucial for branding. While an omnichannel insurance experience is the norm today, creating memorable user experiences at all possible touchpoints will be paramount to carving out stronger market positions for the InsurTech brand.

For example, the silver agers generation are no longer the most dominant consumers of insurance. In fact, studies that the interest now being shown by millennials and Gen-Zers towards insurance products exceeds that of the older generations.

Percentage of people using app to manage insurance

Or, as this chart indicates, nearly half the individuals in the 65+ age category are unlikely to use an insurance app. If the insurer wants to attract more consumers from this cohort, they will need to leverage data to understand preferences, simplify interfaces, customize their offerings and so on.

According to the World InsurTech Report 2021, half of the insurance customers are willing to explore solutions offered by new-age digital players. The insurance market will experience disruption and a new order will emerge. Traditional insurers are more likely than ever to engage in partnerships with InsurTechs to stay relevant. Niche players and start-ups in InsurTech will not only need to leverage emerging technologies but also understand the complexities of insurance better and closely follow changing needs of their target demographics.

Led by research, data analytics, and empathic and intuitive design of user-centric interfaces, InsurTech players will be able to create market differentiation that can help them explore opportunities to build partnerships with traditional players so that both survive and thrive.

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Artificial Intelligence Mobile Tech Talk

6 Dating App Trends in 2023 – Right Swiping Technology to find Perfect Match

6 Dating App Trends in 2023 - Right Swiping Technology to find Perfect Match

Since the dawn of time, pursuing their significant other has always been one of the life purposes of a living being. Be it humans, animals, birds, or mammals, all go through this natural order of mate selection to populate their species. While animals and birds and others usually fight it out to present themselves as the strongest candidate, things have become much easier in the case of humans – all thanks to technology and dating apps.

Cavemen and medieval men used to fight and duel over the approval of a woman. Nowadays a quirky bio and just a right swipe is enough.

The 90s saw a rise of matchmaking websites in India as well as globally with shaadi.com, bharatmatrimony.com, match.com, and others. They started out as preferred online medium to find suitable matches according to social compatibility like caste, culture, region, language education, etc. But very much like Netflix took over Napster, Tinder’s mobile first platform-based approach took over existing linear based models to become the popular choice of dating medium. Globally, Tinder was the highest grossing non-gaming app in 2017.

The online dating market showed no signs of slowing down during and after the pandemic and have been valued at US$12.37 billion in 2021. It is now expected to be worth US$28.36 billion by 2027. We are seeing an influx of dating apps such as Bumble, Hinge, Grindr, Hily, Clover, Plenty of Fish, etc. They all come with their own unique proposition of finding matches for their users. As the dating behaviors of users change with time, these apps adapt to these changes and provide what their users need.

Trend is in the app

Trends are nothing but a general direction of change in something. The biggest transition we can see in the dating scenario is that now people are being more selective of who they go out with.

A recent survey shows “61% of daters use an online dating app to meet people that shares common interests, 44% of daters use an online dating app to meet someone who shares their values and beliefs, and 42% of daters use an online dating app to meet someone for marriage”.

These numbers indicate the current mindset of people regarding their partner selection by the dating app.

The pandemic caused a lot of mental, emotional, and physical stress upon people. As a result, people had more time to reflect on their needs and priorities. The dating apps acknowledged their users’ priorities and introduced several technology-driven features to heed their needs. Below are some of the noticeable CX and behavioral trends among daters and dating apps-

#1 Let’s take it slow

While the pandemic forced people to stay inside, the dating apps didn’t suffer its consequences. In fact, research by Sensor Tower shows that dating app downloads grew 3% Y/Y in Q4 of 2020. The same research also indicates the average age for dating apps has steadily declined in recent years. The declining average age was more visible from the Q1 to Q3 of 2020.

Dating app average age of users during pandemic

Source: Sensor Tower

There are new dating terms that are making the rounds among young users from millennials and Gen Z – Dry Dating, Hesidating, Slow Dating. All terms coined due to the unwillingness of people to go all out with complete strangers.

According to Tinder’s CEO, Renate Nyborg, Gen Z consists of more than half its user base and they eventually want to take things slow in dating. Their idea of ideal dating scenario is different from millennials as they want to know their potential matches better before committing themselves romantically or meeting them. Tinder launched different intent-based swipe features for its users. They can now match by adding “Passions, Prompts and Vibes” to their respective profiles. All things helping matches to know each other better without any romantic expectations and then only take things further if “vibes match”.

#2 Discretion for safety reasons

Dating apps leveraged their digital capabilities to remain competitive in the times of full lockdown. As in-person meetings were not possible then, dating apps introduced in-app video call features for locked-in individuals. The nimbleness of dating apps to adopt to a change was one of the reasons their demand didn’t go down like other businesses.

But as people are using the video call features more and more, it raises the question of privacy and safety. This resulted in many dating apps now offering discreet video call features where users can video call with their blurred faces or silhouettes. The new video call feature also takes user’s permissions before connecting a call for increased discretion. Due to heightened safety concerns, many dating apps started taking different measures to address those. S’More defines itself as an “anti-superficial dating app” as it doesn’t straightaway reveal the image of its users. The profile image appears as blur initially and gets clearer as the conversation continues between matches.

Smore dating app

#3 Minimal efforts maximum gain

Almost all the freemium dating apps like Tinder offer a limited number of free swipes per day to their users. However, the introduction of AI based recommendations has increased the likelihood of users being hooked to the app. AI and ML learn from user’s personal data and preferences to ensure every match has the possibility to be “the one”.

There are over 300 million dating app users worldwide with about 20 million subscribed to one of their premium features. It creates an opportunity for dating apps to increase the likelihood of in-app purchases by offering more value or better matches to their users.

#4 Inclusivity for exclusivity

The huge popularity of value-driven, niche dating platforms in recent years have indicated a change from mindless swiping by global users. People now prefer quality over quantity and are looking for dating apps where they “truly belong”. There are already successful apps like Grindr catering to gay, bisexual and bi-curious men. Similarly, there are other niche dating apps that cater to either sexual preferences, hobbies, or interests of users.

Dig – for dog lovers is a niche dating app consisting of only dog loving users. It totally eliminates the concern of daters about what their match would think about their favorite pet.

Veggly is a dating app specifically for vegans and vegetarians.

Tastebuds is especially built for music lovers who match and can immediately start discussing their favorite artists, bands, etc.

BLK is a dating app for Black singles in the black community. It strives to create a warm, inviting, supportive, and inclusive space where Black love is celebrated and respected in all its forms.

Her dating app is specially built for lesbian, bi and queer community. The free version of the app lets you add friends, view profiles, start chats, view events, and join communities.

Other popular apps like Tinder, Hinge, Bumble have taken cues from this and redesigned their apps to included more sex orientation selections, more varied interests, suggestive bios to showcase on a profile.

#5 It’s a social thing now

One of the most difficult steps in online dating is the talking phase where you try to find common things to talk about. That’s when you feel the need for a friend to support you and guide you. Dating apps like Fourplay encourage people to form a tag team and team up with two more as they start messaging each other.

Thursday app helps skip the talking phase altogether and brings the online dating community directly offline. It hosts secret parties where only singles are allowed. The most likely scenario is a person would be taking along one of their single friends to these events and “socialize”. Ship (now discontinued) allowed users to become a matchmaker and find a suitable match for their friend. It also offered a group chat feature for better validation of the potential match.

Thursday dating app

#6 Gamification could be the key

Tinder’s “Swipe Night” was a huge success. It allows the user to solve a mystery based on game narration and first-person adventure. User’s choices allow to dictate the story and reveal different answers based on that. It then allows users to highlight their game answers in their respective Tinder bios. They are more likely to match with people who have similar answers and thinking patterns

Bumble introduced sets of recommended ice breaking questions to help matches get over the initial nervousness and start talking. Both users answer one of the chosen ice breaking questions and match their answers. Based on the answers they can carry forward their conversation.

Technology – the ultimate matchmaker in the digital era

Dating apps are indeed tech companies leveraging technology to offer social values. The fast adoption of newer technologies and digital transformation in every industry can be seen in dating apps as well. Dating apps are now taking advantage of cutting-edge software and technology such as AI/ML, VR, Metaverse to provide a whole new experience in dating to its users. Let’s take a deeper look at how these technologies are playing a matchmaking role in our dating lives –

AI/ML

Earlier Tinder used an ELO algorithm for matching profiles on the platform. It worked on a weightage system where users with most right swipes had a better probability of finding matches quicker. It then now moved away from this and now relies on a “dynamic system” that monitors the user behaviors on the platform through their swiping patterns and what’s on their profiles. Although not mentioned clearly, this dynamic system could be all but AI and ML deployed by Tinder for matching profiles.

“In a recent interview, Jennifer Flashman – Tinder’s director of analytics, explains that in leveraging AI to build better user experiences, it’s become clear to her that the future of dating will increasingly occur over texts and DMs rather than blind dates and phone calls. As this shift continues to accelerate, here are the top reasons she thinks companies are “swiping right” on AI in dating—and why other industries should be figuring out how to swipe right!”

AI and ML are already creating efficient and smart business processes in different industries. It has potential to transform the dating industry as well. The dating app Hinge employs machine learning as part of its algorithm by suggesting a “Most Compatible” match to its users.

5G

5G with its increased bandwidth, reliability, and speed has made it possible for dating apps to introduce more video-based features in their apps. Although the main beneficiary of 5G services is the OTT industry. But dating apps also can enjoy a few benefits of 5G. Dating apps now offer buffer-less video call, uninterrupted live streaming, Netflix party, etc. to their users for increased engagement. With time we can only imagine other benefits 5G and its subsequent updates may bring to the dating world.

Blockchain

The two founding principles of blockchain are full transparency and immutability. These two factors can play a major role in verifying user identities in dating apps while maintaining the option of privacy.

German company Hicky was one of the first to introduce blockchain based dating app back in 2018. It was built to ensure security and incentivize good behavior of its users.

Luna works on a tokenized dating system and incentivizes people to choose their contacts more carefully.

Ponder uses blockchain-based recommendation system and game mechanics in its app. It also offers financial rewards to motivate everyone to play matchmaker for their friends.

Ponder dating app

VR and Metaverse

The possibilities of Metaverse are endless for daters. It opens the gate to a whole new world of possibilities for them. Dating in metaverse framework depends on the idea of avatars, an advanced articulation of an individual. Nevermet strives to find matches for people in the Metaverse and VR. Dating applications with a metaverse framework depend on the idea of avatars, an advanced articulation of an individual.

Read more: Metaverse or MetaAverse – A Design Thinking Approach To Future Digital Ecosystems

Finding meaningful relationships in virtual platforms like online gaming is nothing new. But VR dating apps like Flirtual and Planet Theta provide the feeling of being physically present with others as well as bring a significant portion of body language into the mix.

VR technology enables the users to connect with their matches authentically in fantastical environments that are impossible to replicate in the real world. People can visit any location, go to any bar, play with unicorns, all on their first date.

Find your ‘lobster’

Contrary to popular beliefs, it’s the nerds that get the dates. Quite literally!

Being tech companies first, the top dating apps are always in an advantageous position to pivot and redefine their value proposition. They continuously vie for users’ attention and roll out new features whenever deemed necessary. Bumble and Hinge rolled out their new voice prompts while Tinder is working on a social mode called Swipe Party. Bumble also recently had its first acquisition in Fruitz – described promptly as a “Gen Z dating app”.

There is still a large untapped market out there waiting for something in their niche. Currently we have over 1500 dating apps or websites worldwide and with new apps quickly emerging, nothing is certain for established big players. There are plenty of fish in the sea if you have the right strategy in place to catch them. The dating industry is facing a real need to embrace innovation or get overshadowed by newer dating apps with fresher ideas and newer technology behind them. Dating apps have the impetus to improve their transparency and provide users with a more complete experience.

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Customer Experience Insurance

Digital Insurance Trends Shaping Customer Experience

It’s challenging for traditional insurers to stay competitive in today’s dynamic digital market. Insurtech companies however are growing in the current experience economy, where consumers value experiences and emotions over goods and services. These forward-thinking, technologically driven businesses are providing great customer service by adapting to and exceeding the ever-changing demands and expectations of today’s customers.

According to a recent IDC InfoBrief sponsored by Liferay, customer experience (CX) will account for 37% of IT spending in the insurance sector by 2024 and grow at a CAGR of 17.5% to reach 50 billion USD. The IDC InfoBrief also states that “providing an excellent and personalized experience to new digital customers is a must for any insurer to build loyalty and long-term relationships, with 60% of insurers saying attracting and retaining customers are their top priorities”.

It is evident that insurers would face difficulty acquiring and retaining customers without a customer-focused strategy. Insurance companies must rethink how they engage with clients if they want to improve customer experience.

Increased Expectations for a Seamless CX

The largest customer segment for insurance was typically thought to be the silver agers generation. However, a survey by Allianz indicated that after the pandemic, millennials and Gen-Z were more interested than their older counterparts in upgrading their insurance coverage. However, younger customers are used to a clear and smooth digital experience, from social networking to mobile banking to music streaming and e-commerce services. Expectations from the insurance industry are no different. According to a study, customer experience (CX) accounts for nearly 60% of brand loyalty, and 96% of consumers believe that customer service is essential for maintaining brand loyalty.

The insurance sector is finding it challenging to meet these expectations. In a survey from the IBM Institute of Business Value, 60% of insurers acknowledge that their company does not have a customer experience strategy. Although the insurance sector has developed and offered some specific insurance products in response to these shifts in customer expectations, it is still trailing in providing clients with the comfort and ease that mobile technology can give.

Digital Trends Insuring a Better CX

The use of mobile phones and the internet has increased significantly worldwide. And when it comes to leveraging digital technologies to scale their business model and work toward providing a hassle-free experience, the insurance sector is not far behind. Some of the digital trends in the insurance industry are listed below:

1. Omnichannel insurance customer experiences

EY Global Insurance Consumer Report revealed that during the COVID-19 pandemic, digital interaction with agents was preferred by 43% of consumers in Europe markets, up from 28% before the pandemic.

In addition to preferring digital interaction, audiences, particularly younger ones, expect consistent, integrated experiences across all communication channels. For instance, if a customer begins a claim submission procedure over the phone and wishes to complete it through the web customer portal, he or she must be able to do it without having to input specific information once more. To meet such demands and preferences of the customer, there is an increasing desire for more integrated and holistic experiences that offer a unified, connected experience flow across channels.

Insurers thus need to assist the customers at every stage of their journey by establishing an omnichannel ecosystem for marketing, sales, and customer support. It helps them gain consumer loyalty along with giving them better control over the CX. These omnichannel experiences can be created by:

● Assisting customers on their preferred web channels

● Connecting customers’ offline and online experiences

● Tailoring the content of websites or mobile apps for various screens

● Following client activity across channels with the help of advanced monitoring technologies

● Using progressive profiling and autofill forms to prevent users from frequently filling out forms while logging in from various devices or platforms

● Making use of client information to retarget individuals with tailored campaigns across platforms, etc.

2. Self-service options

A self-service portal that allows customers to manage their policies, make payments, submit claims, etc. is something that more and more customers are expecting from their insurance service providers. According to the World Insurance Report, 72.7% of tech-savvy customers prefer to renew or apply for coverage digitally while 57.6% of non-tech-savvy customers agree that digital policy management is important. Statistics indicate that most customers are equipped for self-service policy management, regardless of their level of digital skills. For insurance companies, self-service capabilities have several advantages:

● Lower customer acquisition costs

● Increased customer retention and loyalty

● Rapid claim processing, etc.

3. Personalized insurance apps

Over the past few years, the number of customers who would transfer insurance providers owing to poor UI UX rose by 80%. Custom insurance applications are currently the most popular channel for customer account service because a huge chunk of insurers allow customers to manage their policies via mobile apps. When providing personalized services, insurers saw an 81% increase in customer retention and an 89% increase in customer engagement.

The below qualities should be present in the customized app:

● A user-friendly interface that is compatible with both computers and mobile devices

● Workflow automation and analytics capabilities

● Payment processing

● Personalized dashboards for simple policy management and monitoring

● Other features include an embedded knowledge base, electronic signatures, and downloadable documents.

4. Internet of Things (IoT)

The insurance industry will undergo major changes in the future as a result of IoT. These technologies can be used in the four largest digital insurance ecosystems: connected cars, smart homes, connected health, and commercial lines.

The IoT makes it possible for insurance companies to use data from internet-connected devices to improve operational effectiveness. These interconnected devices communicate with one another automatically, allowing for more precise predictive analytics, snap decisions, and seamless process automation.

IoT has made it possible for insurers to collect data on policyholder behavior and quickly alert them about accidents. In this approach, IoT helps with both customer relationship management and claims processing. While customers might forget to recall and submit event details, IoT records everything. As a result, insurers are better equipped to precisely analyze damage, pinpoint the exact cause of accidents, and determine fair compensations.

5. Chatbots

Another effective technique that insurers of today should use to meet client expectations is chatbot technology. These are bot-powered chat widgets that have been added to the insurer’s website, messaging service, or client portal. Insurers must set up chatbots for many reasons:

● They assist prospects by providing quotes or addressing queries

● They improve customer experience by offering 24/7 help

● They free up agents by handling repetitive customer queries

● They generate leads by collecting visitors’ contact information

● They qualify leads and automatically identify the right plans for them

● They can be used to automate the claims process

When it comes to processing insurance applications and claims, a good chatbot can almost entirely take the role of a real person. This cutting-edge strategy enables insurers to provide excellent customer service while enabling agents to concentrate on more difficult responsibilities.

6. The rise of Insurtech

Insurtech is the application of cutting-edge technology to innovation in the insurance industry. More specifically, big data, AI, blockchain, IoT, natural language processing, and other technologies are what power Insurtech. The most important insurance operations, such as underwriting, fraud prevention, claims processing, etc., are addressed by these solutions.

The core digitization strategies stated above are only the outset of Insurtech. It replaces conventional, legacy-driven insurance procedures by adding these cutting-edge technologies. The most frequent use cases for Insurtech involve risk assessment and mitigation due to the constant emergence of new threats.

7. Predictive Analysis

Predictive Analysis has always been a major aspect of insurance agents’ day-to-day tasks. The role of insurance agents has always included a significant amount of predictive analysis. The data analytics landscape saw a significant transformation in recent years. Agents can now select from a wide range of tools and techniques to carry out a precise Predictive Analysis. If they wish to remain competitive and meet the criteria set by InsurTech leaders, they need to quit depending on manual processes.

Predictive Analytics has been credited by insurers with lower underwriting costs (67%), increased sales (60%), and increased profitability (60%). In 2022 and in the years to come, predictive analytics will become increasingly valuable in the insurance industry.

Predictive Analysis can be implemented in the following tasks:

● Insurance pricing and policy optimization

● Risk assessment

● Fraud detection

● Claims management

● Proactive customer engagement

For instance, prediction algorithms powered by machine learning can enhance insurance plans and present more pertinent insurance products to prospective or existing consumers by analyzing customer behavioral signals and purchase trends. Predictive analytics eliminates the component of the guesswork from the policy pricing process, enhancing customer satisfaction and boosting revenue for insurance businesses.

8. Artificial Intelligence

The insurance sector is actively implementing AI-powered solutions as the technology becomes more and more prevalent and is utilized to power a variety of activities. By 2030, automation powered by AI is expected to replace more than 50% of claim-related processes, according to McKinsey. Insurers need to start their AI journey right away to make it practicable.

By automatically analyzing vast volumes of consumer data, AI processing enables insurers to provide customized client experiences. These innovations significantly alter the entire underwriting process while simultaneously speeding up claim response time.

The following technological solutions give insurers access to AI capabilities:

● AI-enabled insurance chatbots

● Predictive analytics tools

● Fraud detection software

● Document capture technologies

● Risk management software

● Claims processing software

Additionally, AI and similar technologies aren’t susceptible to human error, thus removing associated risks that could have a detrimental impact on insurers’ profitability.

9. Simplicity and speed improve customer CX

Insurance is a very sensitive matter in terms of customer experience. This is because when an accident occurs, the essential quality evaluation by customers takes place at a time of the highest emotional fragility and strain. Complex contracts and a bad claims experience are the two primary causes of friction. Because of this, many customers have negative impressions of their insurance experiences.

Customers report a lack of knowledge, assurance, and trust in insurance, according to the EY 2021 Global Insurance Outlook. This is further supported by the idea that, rather than providing for their clients, insurers frequently seek different justifications and defenses to avoid paying insurance compensation. Such immoral practices will have disastrous CX effects.

Insurance companies will need to integrate digital channels with back-end systems, automate manual operations, and improve third-party processes to enable faster digital processing to meet client demand for speed. As digital behavior develops and consumer expectations, influenced by digital services from various industries rise, the necessity for simplicity and speed will only expand.

10. Customer-Centered Design

In an era where customer experience is beginning to trump price and product as a brand advantage, it’s critical to not undervalue the importance of personalization and customer-centricity.

Given that the growth of digital ecosystems has lowered the barrier to entry, brought about the rise of new players (Insurtech businesses), and increased market rivalry, the ability to offer customers the best value has emerged as the primary competitive advantage. Corroboration of increasing innovation may be found in operational areas like policy servicing (in life insurance), claims (in vehicle insurance), and back-office operations (in health insurance).

Companies in the Insurtech sector create digital products with the customer at the center and offer disruptive services to the market. When a customer interacts with an insurance business, it’s important to understand their situation and be empathetic. The only approach to develop that level of empathy is to conduct insurance UX research and use the results of that research to design and construct a customer-centric humanized insurance UX/CX. The personalized claims experience and the personalized buying experience are the two major touchpoints in the insurance customer journey.

According to a Capgemini survey, eight in ten consumers are willing to pay more for improved customer service. According to Accenture’s Global Insurance Consumer Study, 69% of customers would give major data on their health, exercise, and driving habits in exchange for lower insurance rates, and 66% would also disclose significant data for personalized services to reduce injury and loss. Good customer service frequently results in returning business and referrals to friends and family.

CX Trends in Insurance: Right Implementation from Best Insurtech Companies

1. Lemonade

Lemonade is a digital-only insurer with a web & mobile platform. The platform offers:

● Chatbot-powered conversational policy purchase process

● Renter’s insurance within the app

● Car insurance is based on driving habits

● Easy switching from other insurers to Lemonade

● AI-assisted claim review and instant payment

● Option to donate unclaimed premiums to the charity of choice

2. Metromile

Metromile is the leading pay-per-mile car insurance in the US offering personalized digital insurance services. The platform offers:

● Rates are based on the user’s driving habits

● Telematics devices that plug into the car’s diagnostics port and driver’s mobile phone to get data on car usage for better CX

● AI-assisted claim review system

● Access to a nearby garage, vehicle rentals, etc. to get back on the road in case of an accident

3. Beam Dental

Beam Digital is a digital-first, preventive-focused dental insurance offering simplified digital insurance benefits. It offers:

● Electric brush connects to their app to help track and improve brushing habits

● Gamified dental care turns good brushing habits into rewards and savings

● Nearby dentist and hospital search

● Online access to coverage and plan information 24/7

4. Luko

It’s a digital home and real estate insurance app offering prevention, comprehensive coverage, maintenance, and repair. It offers:

● Damage assessment by an expert through a video call

● Access to free services to fix damages and a network of certified skilled workers to get advice through video calls to help with minor repairs

● Partnership with quality smart home device service providers and offers a discount on insurance if security solutions are used

● To donate unclaimed premiums to causes chosen by users

5. Thimble

It’s an on-demand business insurance platform made to serve small businesses and self-employed. The offerings include

● Buy a policy online, in the app, or over the phone instantly

● Customized insurance coverage by hours, days, months, or years

● Flexible payment options for premium

● Options to change, pause, or cancel policy anytime

● No direct claim handling hassle as they are handled by underwriting partners

At Robosoft, we have partnered with enterprises across the spectrum of financial services – insurance, digital banking, payment, lending, and more. We craft digital solutions that simplify lives and delight customers seamlessly across consumer touchpoints.

In Conclusion

In order to win the hearts and loyalty of digital customers and remain relevant in the future, insurers must first foster a transformation culture and customer excellence culture to position towards delivering value to customers and solving their real problems.

This will allow them to evolve from “detect and repair” to “predict and prevent”. It also implies making use of the possibilities that emerging technologies bring. This involves upgrading service channels, adopting, developing, and leveraging new technologies, tackling legacy systems, leaving behind inefficient processes, changing company culture, and shifting mindsets.

Digital is a key battleground in the experience economy, with significant opportunities for those that delight consumers. Let’s get to work and simplify digital experiences and the lives of consumers.

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Mobile Opinion Retail Tech Talk

The Role of Tech in Last Mile Delivery: Integrated Approach is Key

Last mile delivery is tech enabled

In his book, ‘Measure what matters’, the venture capitalist John Doerr said famously ‘Ideas are easy. Execution is everything’. In business, last mile delivery of virtually any idea, especially in services sector is akin to getting the execution right. In retail, it is even more critical as it refers to the last leg of a package’s journey; from the time it is picked up at the transportation hub to when it reaches the customer. We can say that while first impressions matter, this is a powerful moment for brands to make a lasting impression. Not surprisingly enterprises are betting on last-mile delivery to be quick, smooth, and as frictionless as possible.

As online buying continues to boom, the environment is one of intense competition. Exclusive offers, online buyer engagement, delivery times, and easy returns are important differentiators and factors influencing customer loyalty. That’s why a streamlined and cost-effective delivery process can promote brand affinity and become a business edge.

Tech that collaboration

Technology is the fundamental enabler of this entire last-mile segment, now an industry of its own. Estimated at USD 40.5 Billion in 2021, the global last mile delivery market is predicted to return revenues of USD 123.7 Billion in 2030.

In every delivery aspect of e-commerce, technology is already bridging the demand-supply gap between the seller and buyer through innovative solutions and services. For instance, specialized and affordable, online, on-demand services like Postmates, Deliveroo, DoorDash have truly gone the extra mile to help smaller, local retailers in overcoming the delivery limitations of global logistics giants such as UPS and FedEx.

Technology interventions also enable opportunities for retailers to experiment with delivery models, innovative solutions, and collaborations to create market differentiation and optimize costs. When fast-food chains like Domino’s and McDonald’s built in-house delivery capabilities, they turned to technology to orchestrate online customer experience, automate order taking, and coordinate driver delivery, giving them greater control over the delivery experience. Emerging technologies continue to redefine the last mile segment, offering businesses new ways to evolve all the time.

Here are some innovative technology solutions that truly stretch the possibilities of the last mile for ecommerce players and delivery service providers:

• Drones complement autonomous delivery modes

The use of drones to deliver packages has immense potential to solve last-mile reach and challenges of speed and cost, while also offering an environmentally safe and sustainable option to ground-based delivery vehicles like trucks or cars. In 2021, retail giant Walmart partnered with DroneUp, a global leader in drone technology, to launch multiple airport hubs that would cater to delivery on demand. Today, Zipline’s drones drop off medicines and healthcare products in parts of the US as well as the remote corners of Ghana and Rwanda.

• Bots which help buyers

While home delivery bots are not yet fully autonomous, they are drawing a lot of investor attention. Starship Technologies is one example; the company uses self-driven delivery bots that can cover short distances, moving at pedestrian speed to deliver parcels, groceries, and food. They have successfully fulfilled millions of orders around the world without human intervention. Domino’s partnership with robotics company, Nuro is another example where bots deliver pizzas.

• On-the-go traceability and route optimization through GPS

GPS technology has been the foundation of the last-mile delivery segment. Using GPS tracking for customer orders not only helps the retailer/fleet service provider track the number of orders out for delivery but also optimize the number of drivers deployed, chart faster routes and service pending orders. In fact, driver management and route optimization by robust algorithms are making a huge difference in improving operational efficiencies and reducing fuel consumption. A delightful benefit of tracking technology is that customers are able to see where exactly their order is, and delivery staff can coordinate directly, reducing the load on operations teams and customer service. Static optimizers which create one-time optimal routes for delivery can become ‘dynamic’ by taking into account real-time traffic scenario of the area and re-adjusting the route.

Technology is set to play an even bigger part in transforming last mile delivery

While millions of stores have rapidly adopted technology, they have not completely eliminated last-mile challenges like cost and process inefficiencies. Traditional retailers need to make additional investments to match up to the popularity of direct-to-consumer brands who have ready access to mature last-mile solutions and logistics service providers.

They need to choose from the wide array of technologies available to them, to understand the capability and benefits, as well as the integration, scalability and security challenges of each.

Besides GPS, which is the backbone of last mile delivery to customers, it’s also important to integrate technologies that link up the warehousing and storage aspects with the delivery to customer service sector.

Like the RFID tags popular in warehousing for tracking inventory, barcode and QR code are set to play a key role in last mile delivery wherein the delivery person scans the code that sets off a notification and status update corresponding to it. Feedback links can be sent to the customer so that they are fully engaged during the last-mile journey of the package.

Sensors are proving to be a cost-effective means to are being delivered. They can also be strategically used in automating certain processes of warehouse management, which is now a critical area as retailers scramble to fulfil reduced turnaround times.

Using GPS live tracking for customer orders will not only help the retailer/fleet service provider track the number of orders out for delivery but also optimize the number of drivers deployed and available to service pending orders. Here too last mile fleet solutions like GPS and Google Maps Platform are helping ensure the end-user is able to track and review the last leg of order fulfilment.

Technology is also available to help the system to accurately pick the item from the nearest store in which it is available thus speeding up the process. These include pick indicator systems, which could be voice- or light-operated that locate the item and apprise the system accordingly. Smart glasses like the ones offered by Google Glass are making their way into warehouses helping operators locate, pick, and place the item(s) for delivery.

Last mile delivery software and cloud capabilities embedded in shipping will help optimize routes and direct delivery operators with updated information and maps throughout the journey. The software eliminates guesswork by mapping routes based on actual data of traffic jams, road repairs, detours, weather forecasts etc. and thus, averts stressful traffic situations and delays for drivers.

Technology at each stage of last mile delivery

Designing the UX for the last mile in retail needs business insight and user contexts

The ecosystem of the last mile is like the players of a complex symphony in which technology plays the role of an orchestrator – bringing together the warehouse, the products and inventory, the delivery staff and the customers. It unifies and coordinates the roles of different players who come with deep understanding of their specific domains and processes. Therefore, designing any application in the last-mile must draw from the needs of the multiple users – the warehousing staff, fleet operators and drivers, delivery staff, customer service staff and of course, the customer.

To start with, they’ll need to design apps and websites that have the right architectural framework, audience connect and personalization with end-users, and integrate seamlessly with last mile delivery platforms and warehousing. Like ecommerce giants such as Amazon, Walmart, Alibaba, and Otto, they must capitalize on technological advances to enhance the overall customer experience and secure their brand loyalty.

McDelivery Case Study by Robosoft

Here, thoughtful design that draws its information from technology, can play a crucial role in addressing changing expectations and needs of modern buyers while ensuring the last-mile-delivery platform is set up in a way that facilitates fast, frictionless, and enduring experiences.

Typically, last mile delivery can be split into four main stages based on which design of the user interface can be developed by strategically thinking and mapping the various aspects and requirements of each stage.

Stage 1: Goods are picked up from the warehouse based on order requests that need to be delivered to the end users.
Stage 2: Routes are optimized, and delivery personnel allocated to fulfil the order.
Stage 3: Tracking of orders to avert any losses along the route.
Stage 4: At the drop location, the fulfilment of order needs to be verified.

At each stage, design thinking uses insights from technology to play an important role in ensuring seamless and smooth order fulfilment. At stage 1, for example, it needs to pivot around aspects such as:

• What is the type of delivery?
o Regular
o Refrigerated – medicines, blood, organs, food perishables- end to end cold chain

• What are the possible delivery methods?
o Delivery person/van/bot
o Drones (remote places, urgent deliveries, small payloads)

• What are the delivery options?
o Home delivery
o Kerbside delivery
o Pickup at nearest showroom/center

At stage 2, specific design considerations must be made. One essential design feature is for checking the end user’s availability at the time of drop so that the delivery route is worked out based on availability.

At stage 3, the tracking feature must be embedded in the design to ensure the delivery proceeds as per schedule and any changes or detours are noted, and updates are provided to the end user accordingly.

At stage 4, design needs to consider the delivery option chosen. For example,
• In case of kerbside delivery, the facility to generate a QR code must be embedded so that items can be matched with the customer’s details.
• If C.O.D is included, then a feature to collect inputs on the customer’s availability must be included.

The technology behind last mile can be anything from autonomous delivery modes using robots, drones to big data analytics and forecasting using IoT systems, connected vehicles, sensors, and even smart dust. All of them want to remove any cause of friction, delays, and unnecessary expenses in this all-important phase of delivery.

With thoughtful design, countless innovation possibilities unlocked by technology will come alive for ecommerce businesses – from industry leaders to freshly sprung entities. And so, they can aspire to breach the last mile while guaranteeing the last impression of the brand is as good as the first.

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Artificial Intelligence

Conversational AI breaks through user barriers – Designing a fulfilling conversation is key

Designing fulfilling conversation is key for Conversational AI

Hey Alexa, what is conversational AI? If you’ve ever interacted with a virtual assistant like Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant, then you’ve experienced conversational Artificial Intelligence (AI). These game-changing automated messaging and speech-enabled applications have permeated every walk of life, creating human-like interactions between computers and humans. From checking your appointments and carrying out bank transactions, to tracking the status of your food or delivery order and learning the names of songs, conversational AI will soon be playing a lead role in your digital interactions.

So, how does Conversational AI work?

Users interact with conversational AI through text chats or voice. Simple FAQ chatbots require specific terms to derive responses from their knowledge bank. However, applications based on conversational AI are far more advanced – they can understand intent, provide responses in context, and learn and improve over time. While conversational AI is the umbrella term, there are underlying technologies such as Machine Learning (ML), Natural Language Processing (NLP), Natural Language Understanding (NLU) and Natural Language Generation (NLG) that enable text-based interactions. In the context of voice, additional technologies such as Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) and text-to-speech software enable the computer to “talk” like a human.

Conversational AI process

Imagine you give a command to a conversational AI application to track your order. This input could either be spoken or text. If spoken, the ASR converts the spoken phrases into machine-readable language. Once converted by ASR, the application then moves into the NLP stage, where it first uses NLU to understand the context and intent of the message. Based on this, a response is formed through a dialogue management system and generated into an understandable format by NLG. The response is then either delivered in text, or in the case of voice, converted to speech through text-to-speech software. All this happens in a matter of seconds, to get the information you need about the status of your order.

Conversational AI will create a real and personal relationship between humans and technology

As our world becomes more digital, conversational AI can enable seamless communication between humans and machines, with interactions that are an integral part of daily life. Besides improved user engagement, conversational assistants allow round-the-clock business accessibility and reduce manual errors in sharing information. They reduce the dependency on people for multi-lingual support and enable inclusion by removing literacy barriers. The benefits and potential of conversational AI are inviting businesses and technology to make heavy investments in the space.

Sales, service and support have been early adopters of conversational AI, because of the structured nature of information exchange that these functions require. This has decreased query resolution times, reduced the dependence on human agents and provided the opportunity for 24/7 sales and service. The AI chatbots are even able to deliver recommendations on purchases based on personalized customer preferences. According to Gartner, chatbots and conversational agents will raise and resolve a billion service tickets by 2030.

Across sectors, conversational AI is transforming interactions between people and systems. The banking sector is banking on conversational AI to provide a superior experience through transactions such as providing balance information, paying bills, marketing offers and products and so on, all without human intervention. The insurance sector is using chatbots to help customers choose a policy, submit documents, handle customer queries, renew policies and more. The healthcare sector is using these chatbots to check patient symptoms, schedule appointments, maintain patients’ medical data, and share medication and routine check-up reminders. Automobiles are becoming a cockpit for personal AI assistants or in-car experiences.

Businesses are also using conversational AI to manage their own workforce and improve the employee experience. Through chatbots, they make vital information available to employees 24/7, reducing the need for human resources to manage queries and processes. The possibilities and opportunities with conversational AI are endless and use cases are available in every industry.

Overcoming user frustration with Conversational AI through better engineering and design

While there are several benefits to conversational AI, you might be familiar with many instances when the conversation ends in frustration. As AI technology evolves and matures, these challenges must be addressed at the design and engineering stage.

In terms of design, the success of the platform entirely hinges on user interface and experience. It must be easy to use, intuitive, and must fit seamlessly into the overall design of the application and customer journey. While UI is important, the conversation itself is the most critical aspect. It is important to ensure that the conversational design flows smoothly, follows well-tested and widely applicable patterns and has exception rules inbuilt into the script design.

The more human-like the conversation is, the better the user’s acceptance

  • Draw from real life – To design a fulfilling conversation, architects and UX designers must draw from real-life, and UX design principles. The product has to be designed for ease of use, ease of conversation and ease of resolution. The product has to be easily findable, accessible and usable to the user in the overall product ecosystem. This can be achieved by following time-tested UI and UX principles in developing visual or auditory experiences.
  • Build trust – To build trust in conversational AI, small talk or playful ways to engage with the AI can be built into the engagement.
  • Understand the target audience – Understanding the target audience and their needs is pivotal to the success of conversational AI. An in-depth study of the demographics helps in building a platform that is unbiased. Incorporating languages, accents and cultural nuances allows the user to relate better and enable smoother interactions.
  • Solve customer problems, not business problems – A deep understanding of the customer ensures that the conversation design is solving for the customer, rather than solving for the business problem. When the focus is on the business problem, the is a possibility of ignoring the human-like flow of interaction. Putting the customer first helps in building a valuable and desirable interface that is a win-win for both the customer and the business. It is also important to ask what the system will help resolve and design the conversation to ensure the most frequent use cases for the application are solved logically and seamlessly. Bad AI chatbot conversationExample of a bad AI chatbot interaction
  • Recover from lagging conversations – The AI bot must also have the ability to learn from mistakes, recover from broken conversations and redirect to human agents when conversations cannot be fulfilled through AI. This has to be designed seamlessly into the interface, ensuring the customers trust the system and come back to use it in the future.

Engineering can help provide human-like interaction

  • The systems have to be able to deal with noisy settings and decipher languages, dialects, accents, sarcasm, and slang that could influence intent in the conversation. Intense data training, larger varied datasets, language training and machine learning (ML) could solve these challenges as the technology matures.
  • Another concern with conversational AI is data privacy and protection. To gain user trust, security must be paramount and all regional privacy laws must be adhered to.
  • Backend integration of conversational AI platforms may decide their success or failure in the market. The platform must integrate with CRM, after-sales, ticketing, databases, analytics systems and so on, to get appropriate data for the user, and provide appropriate data to the business.
  • Finally, the AI system should be backed by analytics and data, so that data scientists have invaluable insights to continuously improve the system.

Conversational AI is growing at an incredible pace and at a massive scale. This is because of the immense possibility that conversational AI has to bridge the gap between humans and technology. There is vast demand also due to the efficiencies and cost savings that conversational AI can offer businesses with quick, accurate and effortless query resolution. Businesses across industries should leverage this technology of the future to deliver a consistent and superior user experience.

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Airline Digital Transformation UX/UI

New Technologies Enhancing UX in Airlines Industry

UX in aviation

UX design has been a critical aspect of aviation for a long time, from the creation of cockpit systems to the development of cabin design and passenger experience. With the introduction of more refined UI and new technologies like AI/AR, and Biometrics, airlines are continuously looking at ways to enhance UX in Aviation. These exciting new technological advancements in the aviation industry are being enabled by robust new user experiences.

From the past, airlines have already been making significant efforts in improving the passenger experience from varied seating choices to chef-designed meals. Aircrafts are now also able to access real-time data directly from the ground, improving situational awareness and increasing control capabilities. Mobile devices will also gain access to wider navigation information and improved passenger services, ensuring that users of their devices will better understand why they’re using it.

However, improving customer experience is a never ending process and even now passengers tend to report that they are left looking for more in terms of improved UX. In a world where customer is king, it falls on the aviation industry as a whole to tackle its UX challenges and find CX improvement areas. Only then it may be able to appeal to the next-generation of customers.

Some UX Challenges and CX Improvement Areas in the Aviation Industry

According to McKinsey, the overall traveler satisfaction level hasn’t seen any kind of decline post pandemic. In fact, many have found the travel experience to be better than it was before the pandemic.

Flight and hotel experiences comparison post pandemic

Source: McKinsey

But these surprising numbers in customer satisfaction are mostly derived from leisure travelers who maybe just feeling happy to be on the road again. There are still major UX challenges and improvement areas like flight cancellations, delays, rebooking hassle, compensation merry-go-round, loss of time and money among others.

These are just a few examples of the vast majority of UX challenges generally faced by customers while traveling via air. Some major challenges and improvement areas in customer experience journey are:

#1 Non-uniform travel experiences

Till now aviation companies were looking to continuously improve only the in-flight passenger experiences while somewhat disregarding the other touchpoints for passengers. But now there is a need to improve the customer journey in all aspects of their travel by working towards an omnichannel experience. This will provide a seamless end-to-end customer experience by airlines from booking tickets to arriving at their destination.

In our previous article, we have talked about designing a deeper, more intimate airport experience for travelers. It breaks down the whole flying experience to seven stages and provides valuable UX recommendations for each.

#2 Adequate pre and post flight information

The new generation of customers are driven by seamless smartphone experiences and seek for the same everywhere. A big step to achieve this is by providing important notifications via normal text or via app notification. Airlines are now expected to be able to provide pre- and post-flight information, timely updates and assistance to customers.

#3 Longer processing time

Earlier, the check-in experience was already a tedious task, now add new norms after the pandemic and you got a steep challenge to keep your wits end together. The new health check regulations have undeniably added more minutes to the long waiting time of passengers patiently waiting for their turn to check-in.

#4 Undeniable influence of Online Travel Agencies (OTAs)

While OTA websites drive most of the traffic, the actual purchase is generally made on the airlines’ own website/app. Still, when it comes to easy website navigation and other UI/UX features, airline websites lose the battle. Even in today’s time many travelers find booking a ticket very stressful and confusing from airlines’ own website.

#5 Increase in CX while maintaining operational costs

FSC or LCC carriers used to cater to very different class of passengers who were either driven by flight experience or price. As it is becoming a challenge for aircraft carriers to attract new set of passengers, they are looking for ways to attract both these set of customers without compromising much on customer experience.

In our article on digitalization effects on leisure and travel industries, we pitched a Right Price Model for airline business which tackles the important CX initiatives while maintaining operational costs.

How New Technologies are Boosting UX for Airlines [with examples]

One of the main enablers for improved UX is the emergence of newer technologies and their applications in aviation industry. These technologies are digitally transforming the aviation industry and paving the way for a customer centric airline industry.

Some of these technologies and their real life examples are listed below –

#1 Blockchain Technology

Using blockchain technology helps airlines to securely maintain user data and privacy across multiple touchpoints via a digital ledger. The technology can find its use in identity management & record keeping, cross integrations for seamless travel experience, building robust data security systems and airline maintenance.

Air France deployed blockchain technologies to create a COVID-19 test verification system via a mobile app during the pandemic. Singapore Airlines uses blockchain technology for their frequent flyer loyalty program using KrisPay. It also offers promotions to customers along with the program.

#2 Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality (AR & VR)

AR and VR technology when used correctly can not only enhance the UX but also help in improving the customer experience of navigating through the airport or aircraft. The obvious uses of AR and VR technologies can be seen in airports. For e.g. AR/VR can show the passengers cabin experience on VR headsets, provide a digital tour guide, show fastest route through airport, etc.

The Gatwick airport uses AR to help passengers navigate the complex layout of the airport, and London City Airport has installed AR tech to help air traffic controllers with the vital job of keeping planes safe.

#3 Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI integrated with machine learning, and predictive analytics can help immensely in providing a connected and customized experience to the flyers. Further, AI also has the potential to ease out various operational processes of airlines like revenue management, managing ticket pricing, etc.

Shenzhen airport in China uses AI for AI airbridge allocation as well as for AI turnaround times. Air France implemented the specialized AI platform called Sky Breath that collects data from the flight, performs in-depth analytics, and helps identify fuel-saving opportunities and increase efficiency.

#4 Biometrics

Biometrics is not new to aviation. All the major and minor airports started implementing it since 9/11 to improve their security details. But over the years it has found use in improving passenger experience as well by improving the time and speed of check-in and other operations. In fact, use of facial recognition has been proposed for airports to cut down on flight delays by 80 percent.

Fraport in conjunction with Zwipe have agreed to trial their biometric solutions to boost security at Frankfurt airport. Miami International Airport and US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) started rolling out biometric technology with a few airlines back in 2019. MIA is now seeking a huge biometric push by 2023 that will serve multiple purposes.

#5 Internet of Things (IoT)

The airline industry is using IoT to build a integrated ecosystem combining the organizational functions to increase efficiencies and provide a seamless experience to their customers.

Virgin Airlines have implemented IoT in its Boeing 787. Every single element on the plane is attached to a wireless airplane network, providing real-time IoT data on elements like performance, maintenance, etc. EasyJet’s Mobile Host at London’s Gatwick Airport combines the traveler flight details with live data from the airport’s Google indoor maps. This allows the airline to deliver updated check-in reminders, gate updates, and even personalized directions.

#6 Mobile Solutions

Airlines are using the mobile platform to connect with their customers throughout the passenger journey starting from booking a flight to deplaning it. Airlines can send real time alerts and notification on and off the airport.

Almost all airline carriers nowadays send real-time flight notifications from post booking to deplaning. These include self check-in, flight delay notifications, feedback, etc.

#7 Hearable, wearable & Voice Technologies

These technologies have increasingly found various usage in aviation from internal communication between flight attendants, voice searches, voice bookings to voice check-ins. These are also used in conjunction with in-flight connectivity which provide a real opportunity to drive conversion, upsell items on flight.

#8 Advanced Data Analytics and Big Data

Aviation companies collect traces of customer data from each stage of their travel journey, be it planning, research, reservation, stay, or post-travel review of their experiences. They can use insights from this data and advance analytics to provide a high degree of personalization to the travel experience which in turn could help in building customer loyalty.

These technologies have the potential to revolutionize air travel as we know it. The airline industry is on the precipice of a breakthrough, and most of the credit goes to the wave of digital transformation across the industry with CX as center.

Technology in each step of airline customer journey

As you can see how much of a bigger role technology plays in designing the UX of travelers. Let us further break down the whole customer journey into 5 different stages and discuss how technology plays a vital role in each step.

1. Pre-booking – Airlines can offer a digital tour guide powered by a personalization engine to show destination highlights based on individual customer preferences. Airlines use data analytics telemetry based pattern identification to drive loyalty management programs and offer dynamic rewards while booking.

2. Booking and Check-in – Airline companies can use geolocation based service and marketing apps to offer transportation services, bot assisted agent or self service changes. Geolocation also allows display of local language and currency on website for familiarity and convenience while booking and payment.

3. Airport Experience – Use of IoT baggage tags providing real-time tracking, self-tagging and activation. Biometric enabled check-in and security check. A combination of AR/VR enabled mobile computing, AI, robotics, Big Friendly Data (BFD), Intuitive UX, and wearable technology to help users in self-service check-in to intimate boarding experiences.

4. In-flight experience – Taking help of big data and hearable, wearable & voice technologies to enhance in-flight experiences with traveler loyalty services, communications, and purchases.

5. Post-travel – Mobile solutions to assist in un-boarding and baggage claims. Also, sending customer satisfaction surveys post travel for better personalization in upcoming travel plans.

How Airlines are Ensuring a Highly Personalized Experience for Customers

Introduced in 2012 by IATA, the NDC airline standard is now helping airlines break away from over-reliance on GDS intermediaries. Airlines can now offer more differentiation, push new offers right away on their website, and provide high class personalization to their customers.

The NDC standard ensures each ticket seller stays up to date with each airlines’ newest offers and products. Other benefits of NDC includes:

i) Direct access to upgrades, exclusive packages, or limited-time offers even when customer is booking from a third-party.

ii) High personalization according to individual preferences across customer journey.

iii) Advance level of comparisons for all airline options, including their different services, products, promotions and of course, prices.

iv) Speed to market while distributing products widely across third-party agents or sites.

v) Same content across airline website and travel agent sites.

In short, NDC allows airlines to take control of their purchase and distribution when dealing with customers. This ensures a high level of customer experience from the airlines.

Possibilities for Airline Industry

As new technologies find ways to integrate themselves across various industries, customer expectations are growing higher and higher. Technology is now playing a major role in UX design for the whole airport and airline experience for customers. Today, what looks mind boggling due to technology may become standard norms in near future.

It is very important for the aviation industry to keep evolving with the growing trends in CX and UX. In times to come the airline travel experiences are set to become more personalized, valuable, and memorable for the flyers.

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Digital Transformation

How Digital Transformation is Enabling a Swift Strategic M&A in Automotive Industry

Digital Transformation enabling automotive mergers and acquisitions

If anything history has taught us, it is the brave, innovative, believers, and risk-takers who emerge the strongest after a catastrophe. The pandemic brought such an unprecedented event to people, businesses, and industries in general.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought additional challenges to the automotive industry which deeply impacted manufacturing quantity and quality, supply chains, chip shortages, and already shrinking global demand for vehicles. The pandemic, economic downturn due to the Russia-Ukraine war, etc. has leveled the playing field for auto manufacturers and original equipment manufacturers or OEMs globally. The field is set for proactive players to leverage this opportunity to the fullest.

We are already witnessing an increase in M&A and disposal activities as companies are focusing on rapid strategy execution. Using M&A, companies are now capturing and accelerating new capabilities, improving delivery time, and even improving their position in the market.

Automotive mergers and acquisitions since 2021

Mergers & Acquisition activities in the news

 

Mergers and Acquisitions in automobile industry since 2019

Source: Crunchbase

Auto manufacturers and OEMs are now finding that sweet spot of incorporating technology not only into their production but in mergers and acquisitions as well.

Disruptions due to digital transformation in the automotive industry

There was a time when legacy organizations held steadfast to their age-old beliefs and showed great aversion to any kind of change including technology.

But as we witness day after day, digital transformation is simplifying the lives of millions worldwide, and legacy organizations have started taking note. They are now becoming the beacons of change and leading the digital transformation revolution across industries.

The automotive industry is a highly competitive industry that is now continuously evolving by rapidly digitizing its operations. Digital transformation positively influences the entire value chain and impacts all stakeholders alike – consumers, suppliers, dealerships, manufacturers, and financial institutions.

New customer experience trends are now driving the digital transformation in the automotive industry. Customers are now seeking connected vehicles that offer a personalized driving experience. This rise in demand has come at such a crucial juncture where automotive manufacturers are short on supplies and going into losses.

Automotive majors took this opportunity to become more technology-centric organizations by adopting various tools such as big data analytics, cloud computing, and body/road sensors. The influence of technology could also be seen in establishing an efficient supply chain management system and enhancing vehicle performance through remote diagnostics.

Current Trends and Key Challenges for OEMs facing an Uncertain Future due to Changes in the Industry

Original equipment manufacturers face several challenges in today’s automotive industry from supply chain disruptions to shortage of semiconductor chips and skilled labor. This is why we will see companies increasing M&A activities in near future to acquire the capabilities they need to produce existing products as well as develop future ones.

#1 Surge in demand for Electric Vehicles or EVs

Since the introduction and favorable government norms, there has been an exponential increase in demand for EVs.

Electric Vehicles market in 2030s

Source: marketsandmarkets.com

We are now witnessing various M&A related to EVs and autonomous vehicles (AV) between auto manufacturers, OEMs, and technology companies. It could well be a continuation of the trend from 2021 of SPAC mergers with early-stage automotive companies in the EV and AV space.

The increased demands for EVs mean key players will shift their R&D and production capacities to electrification, digital transformation deals (software, connectivity, customized chips), EV battery and fuel cell technologies, and charging infrastructure.

#2 Major disruptions from changed market behavior and expectations

The demand for new and costly features by customers with higher-tech means more pressure on OEMs to deliver quality in a shorter time frame. Adding to this, there are challenges with regulators rightfully demanding the strictest adherence to environmental and safety standards.

The impact of CASE (Connected, Autonomous, Shared, and Electric) megatrends also could be denied by OEMs to further increase the pressure on them. The disruption caused by these trends is restructuring the market with the future automotive industry likely to look substantially different from that of today.

Thus, OEMs are likely to enter into joint ventures sharing their R&D expenses and gaining access to scarce components such as semiconductors. Further, there will be alignment challenges with the governments to create the necessary charging infrastructure for EVs.

#3 Minimal differentiating factors

Earlier, manufacturers differentiated themselves on economies of scale, standardization, and product differentiation. Now with a seismic shift in the auto industry with advanced digital technologies, the differentiation factors have also changed.

Incorporating analytics, automation, and AI to improve efficiency across supply chain management to product development and customer relationship management is a must for almost any organization now. If businesses can’t keep up with the digital transformation, their businesses start bearing negative results.

In extreme cases, some traditional automotive suppliers must build exit strategies amid technological disruption across the sector. The financially and technologically weakest companies could be easy identifiers for turnarounds or restructuring by larger and technologically adept players.

#4 Change in organizational goals

The time is ripe for up-and-coming players in the auto industry to reconsider their vision for the future. They must now identify likely changing areas of profitability using scenario planning over the course of the next 10-15 years. Aligning your goals with changing times could prove to be vital as coming years declare a stark warning to those OEMs who are standing still.

Opportunities in Strategic M&A of Auto Manufacturers and OEMs

#1 New product line and business models

The first movers among the OEM and auto manufacturers are investing heavily in digital transformation to gain a competitive advantage. They are also competing with tech companies to enter into new businesses such as autonomous driving, connected services, etc. The strategic M&A with digital companies is also opening up new avenues for OEMs to establish communication channels with customers for selling vehicles, accessories, and services directly.

#2 Flexibility in choosing available strategic options

OEMs and their partners currently have three options to tackle the change and disruption in the industry – build, buy, or partner.

buy build partner for OEMs

Buy

Small to mid-size automotive companies continuing their own production are bearing double expenses. There are two primary reasons for this –
(i) Continue manufacturing their existing products with upgraded features
and (ii) Developing hybrid and electric vehicles autonomously

Despite the heavy cost, the main advantage of adopting a build strategy by OEMs is preserving the rights to the intellectual property associated with the capability or technology they have built.

Build

Companies can supplement in-house development with strategic M&A that helps fill the gaps and get instant access to required technologies. However, the increased costs of these assets act as a barrier to this method for most.

Moreover, the pandemic and lack of resources have made sought-after assets such as electric powertrain or connected car assets highly desirable and relatively rare. Also, there is a scarcity of assets associated with future technologies with appropriate scale.

However, there is an influx of capital toward tech-enabled companies that use intangible assets to serve customers. These companies are using newer business models with revised goals and letting technology play a far greater role than ever. Investors are betting big on these tech-enabled companies to provide important CASE capabilities to incumbent players in the auto industry.

Partner

Various analysis of the auto industry indicates a continuity in partnerships between automotive businesses as joint ventures or strategic partnerships. The main objective behind these partnerships is to share the burden of product and capability development.

Recent years have shown various automakers and OEMs to get involved in next-generation technology-related partnerships. We can expect full mergers between an auto manufacturer and a technology partner to create larger companies with larger balance sheets and larger capital spending capabilities.

Whichever strategic direction a business may choose to go, they must regroup first and ask important questions to themselves about their long-term and short-term plans. They must be open and honest to themselves about what new capabilities they need to bring into their organization, what are the gaps, and which strategy among build/buy/partner will be beneficial for them to fulfill those gaps.

Impact of Digitization on M&A of Automotive Manufacturers and OEMs

Improved efficiency: As automotive manufacturers and OEMs are gearing up toward the next generation of mobility, they are increasingly leveraging digital transformation to improve development time to market, reduce costs and improve efficiency.

Value addition for customers: While buying a company with an established working model, having a strong clientele base, talented workforce and technical know-how give automotive companies a head-start in achieving their business goals – acquiring digital assets enables them to not just accelerate but also add value to their existing operations which in return adds value to the customers.

New innovation and development: Automotive companies have also been looking at mergers and acquisitions as a way to innovate and develop new technologies for emerging mobility products such as e-vehicles, autonomous vehicles, connected vehicles, etc., which needs quick access to a talent pool with new capabilities.

Harmonious integrations: Digital transformation has opened up opportunities for automotive firms to integrate platforms from different industries that weren’t even previously considered part of vehicular services. For example – A car rental app can be integrated into an autonomous vehicle so that users can call upon them through voice commands on demand.

Digitization enables a quick M&A in the automotive industry

Some of the factors that play a role in the industry-wide changes could be found among the following:

  • Governments impose stringent emission norms for passenger cars due to environmental regulations. These strict norms reduce profitability for OEMs who relied on cheaper but environmentally harmful emission parts for vehicles. Now every manufacturer has to consider environmental friendliness while manufacturing parts
  • The economic downturn and the pandemic along with digital transformation have acted in conjunction to let smaller car manufacturers enter the market rather easily. The bigger players now not only have to reduce cost, increase profitability, and introduce digital, but also take care of competition from small players
  • The lack of resources and skilled labor has significantly increased product development costs. Companies are now in a conundrum to carve out non-profit making bodies and sell for capital while making sure they don’t look desperate to maintain their stock price

With all these factors pressing down on them, many auto manufacturers and OEMs are left wondering how they can survive the digital transformation in this sector.

Introducing digitization in any M&A significantly speeds up the process which proves to be beneficial for both parties involved.

A swift merger & acquisition between two parties can be done with the help of the right technology partner.

What is the importance of choosing the right digital partner?

Digital transformation brings a fundamental change to the companies by helping them embed required technologies across functions.

When done properly, digital transformation increases efficiency, develops greater business agility, and ultimately unlocks new values for employees, customers, and shareholders.

This is why it becomes critical for companies to seek help only from experts and specialists with a proven track record. The right technology partner can keep your company on track and guide you throughout the process of M&A.

Conclusion

Customer experience is becoming an important factor in driving digital transformation across the automotive industry. OEMs and dealers too must be in tune with the changing behavior of consumers or they risk falling behind.

Since it is not entirely a new thing, changing trends will call for more quick mergers between auto manufacturers and OEMs. Both parties should look for a quicker turnaround time for the merger. A swift action ensures profitability and scalability measures are taken as quickly as possible post-merger.

This trend will only gain more momentum as the introduction of electric vehicles is now bringing a whole new shift in the dynamics of the automotive industry. The future looks equally scary and exciting for auto manufacturers and OEMs depending on how brave and innovative they are and fast they can act and adapt.

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Media & Entertainment Technology

What has 5G in store for OTT services

Effect of 5G on OTT

It is an understatement that streaming services are dependent on broadband cellular networks.

The late 2000s saw the introduction of Web2.0 along with the first iPhone and analog TVs switching over to digital, and 3G on the rise. The combination of these phenomena pushed a sense of omnipresence for streaming media as people could watch whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, and wherever they wanted. Then came 4G/LTE which made a big impact on consumers’ ability to reliably stream their favorite programs from almost anywhere. However, it too had its limitations with patchy reception, signal degradation, and loss of uplink capability in some unfavorable conditions.

5G brings a promise of bringing the cloud computing infrastructure vital to delivering stable, high-quality OTT services closer to end-users. It will achieve this with real-time processing and minimal latency. This could prove to be a huge boost for real-time data delivery and live streaming via OTT networks.

Active 5G-powered experiences: Live streaming to immersive virtual reality

The introduction of 5G does make it easier for network providers and streaming platforms to be able to handle a large amount of streaming demand efficiently. Almost 80% of US households are now CTV-plugged, while the OTT consumers are spending about 4 billion hours combined per week to watch content. The volume of video content consumption has drastically skyrocketed in the past few years and 5G is designed to support and maintain such an upward trend.

But the future of streaming is not only about handling streaming demands. It is about the new digital experiences that 5G makes possible. OTT providers and broadcasters now have the chance to offer their viewers a wide range of services from live sports in 4K and beyond to 360° videos, headcam footage, virtual reality, and other immersive experiences.

future of ott streaming services

CTV/OTT entertainment and advertising are the principal beneficiaries of 5G implementation.

5 ways how the advent of 5G technology will boost OTT adoption rate

Bridging OTT and broadcasting gaps: The 5G network made by local “macro” towers implanted at strategic locations will bring processing closer to the users. This will overcome the constraints of distant servers or the individual device’s computing power to deliver a perfect user experience.

The combination of cloud computing and the 5G network could prove to be the ideal setup for the delivery of real-time data and live streaming via OTT networks. In fact, Amazon Web Services and Verizon have already started exploring the possibility of live streaming NFL games using 5G, which is now installed in 25 NFL stadiums. This will only encourage current OTT platforms such as Amazon Prime – broadcasting NFL games and Premier League soccer matches, to move towards a seamless, real-time delivery of data. Thus consumers now have a choice to watch live events either on broadcasting TV or OTT platforms.

Decline of satellite broadcasting media demand: Any new variation of the network comes with a promise of enhanced performance, stability, and reliability; 5G is no different in this regard. Thus the arrival of 5G will encourage users to access content in a plethora of varying formats, genres, and types at their convenience. The 5G network allows users to enjoy HD and 4K video streaming seamlessly without disruptions. Therefore, there is a likelihood of OTT services rising in demand and satellite broadcasting media witnessing a decline.

Switchover to connected TV: One of the first things the new-age generation looks for while setting up their new home is connectivity across their devices. Smart TV or Connected TV proves to be the perfect device to have seamless connectivity and functionality for all their media needs. The fact that it has in-built internet and other integrated web features are why it proves to be the perfect conduit to stream digital content using the 5G network. Thus, the introduction of 5G will only increase the OTT platform subscriptions as more and more users switch over to smart TV.

Enhanced real-time advertising: The introduction of 5G brings good news to the advertisers as well. They can ensure real-time data movement with the help of 5G networks. This would enable the advertisers to serve targeted ads instantly and directly to the consumers by leveraging the popularity of OTT platforms. This would also enable advertisers to serve highly localized ads without incurring any extra charges for data storage or transmission. As a causality, this would benefit users as AVOD content on the OTT platforms would increase.

Collaborations and partnerships: OTT providers are already collaborating with telecom partners to ensure content streaming increases and retain customers. However, the customers often complain of quality issues over the 4G network whenever there is a content demand surge. The introduction of 5G would enable OTT services to collaborate with 5G providers and easily meet these demand surges.

Technology triggers to enhance customer’s OTT experience with the introduction of 5G

Content Delivery Network (CDN) Growth

The unprecedented growth in OTT was driven not just by the COVID-19 pandemic but also by the intersection of key technological and societal developments. The pandemic more or less acted as a catalyst to accelerate trends already on the rise, whether in terms of consumption, production, or distribution.

On the consumption side, the lack of public cinema made way for the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+ as popular alternatives with growing amounts of binge-watching. On the distribution side, continuous improvement in streaming quality over mobile networks especially, even with 4G, has encouraged OTT viewing on the move. Now, with the introduction of 5G, viewing OTT on the move is going to be even more encouraged.

Apart from the impact of mobile and 5G, the ongoing evolution of CDNs is proving to be one of the biggest factors involved in the advancement of OTT. CDNs combine connectivity with cached storage to optimize content delivery and minimize latency. According to Cisco, globally, Internet video traffic will be 82% of all consumer Internet traffic by 2022, up from 73% in 2017. Thus, it is increasing the growth of CDNs purely backed by the increase in video consumption. This is further solidified by a forecast report by Markets and Markets. According to this report, the CDN market size is expected to grow from USD 14.4 billion in 2020 to USD 27.9 billion in 2025, at a CAGR of 14.1%.

At the same time, CDNs have diversified into different versions suited to specific requirements. The role of CDNs naturally varies between on-demand and live content. For the former, CDNs use caching closer to subscribers to minimize consumption of a wide area of bandwidth. CDNs increase scalability and improve the customer experience by storing cached copies of data at strategic locations and delivering smoother reduced start-up lag.

WebRTC-for content delivery

WebRTC or Web Real-time Transfer Control protocol is a streaming protocol for web communication allowing users to connect in real-time without connecting to an additional server. It is basically a peer-to-peer open source communication project first invented by Global IP Solutions (GIPS) in Sweden and later taken over by Google in 2011. Over time, WebRTC proved to be an efficient way of content distribution as well. With the advent of 5G, WebRTC supported devices will usher in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) ecosystem which is a next-generation service ecosystem to handle communications processes such as telecommunications, broadcast media, intelligent building management systems, audiovisual processing and transmission systems, and network-based control and monitoring functions.

WebRTC working mechanism

WebRTC working mechanism

WebRTC theoretically works with a 4 step process to establish peer to peer communication – signaling, connecting, securing, and communication.

WebRTC gives a lot of value to OTT developers due to its extremely useful benefits. WebRTC has ultra-low/real-time latency which makes it perfect for live streaming, it is open source which allows developers to experiment, it is ultra-compatible with a large range of devices, it is secure, adaptive, and delivers a high-quality video output.

WebRTC will be the RTC platform of choice with the introduction of 5G and the expansion of OTT offerings. It makes every component of OTT available to anyone at ridiculous costs.

Challenges to 5G rollout

For several years 5G has been highly anticipated to be the next generation of mobile communications technology, but it is still at the early stage of network deployment and market development.

Some challenges may delay 5G rollout across the globe and hence a slower impact on the OTT industry than expected.

  • Possible high costs will lead to uncertainty over customers’ willingness to pay. According to a McKinsey survey, two-thirds of customers are unwilling to pay more than five euros per month for ten-times-higher speed. At the same time, 49 percent of customers expect consistently high speed, and 43 percent expect new applications and services.
  • Affecting industries reliant on wireless communication in the same bandwidth (e.g., airline industry). Read more about this issue here.
  • Installation of base antennas and technology ineptitude of the majority of countries. Since a majority of countries are still developing and barely have extra budgets allocated for faster adoption of newer technology, 5G rollout there is not possible in the near future.

What to expect in the future?

The rollout of 5G has already started with many successful events witnessed such as the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. But we still need to wait for the full deployment of its connectivity before we understand its full potential. But whatever the case, this next-gen connectivity would most likely encourage viewers to stream more often, on the go, and go live. 5G will make it possible for video to be the primary method of digital content consumption. With its improved reliability, data streaming speed, and video delivery capabilities, we should all brace ourselves for this upcoming revolutionary digital solution called 5G network connectivity.

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Media & Entertainment Opinion

How OTT providers can shape engaging content experiences for the empowered consumer

OTT engaging content experiences

Over-the-top (OTT) is a medium where customer is king and content rules. The pandemic served as a catalyst for greater OTT adoption, driving home this truth stronger than ever. OTT channels exploded, providing many hours of entertainment at home, and on any device. As the global pandemic took hold in 2020, 36% of consumers say it was a direct driver of them taking out a new OTT subscription.

Propelled by the widespread distribution enabled by OTT, companies are in a race, pursuing content in various ways – generating their own content or turning aggregators, working with small creative houses to produce short films, increasing localization of content, or crowdsourcing.

However, today, to develop a platform and enable OTT is only completing the first lap. The market is crowded with players, big and small, jostling for a toehold. Today’s empowered consumers crave engagement, which means, providers need to build targeted content that will reel in customers and keep them hooked over time. To be a marathoner, the OTT provider needs to be able to both engage and retain.

Building sustained customer experiences led by content

The empowered consumer is spoilt for choice – avoiding both app fatigue and subscription fatigue will be important. This approach is backed by a 2020 Deloitte survey of US consumers – their reason for choosing a particular brand of service seemed to indicate a preference for both a broad range of shows & movies, and content not available elsewhere.

Deloitte OTT streaming video subscribers survey

OTT providers can look to win the war for viewers through a number of ways including:

  • Top of the mind recall: optimizing AI-based tools and segmentation will be essential for targeted content consumption. For instance, huge success of Korean TV series “The Squid Games” has shot up the demand for similar drama TV series in local languages. Thus, enabling AI to push localized content to a wider audience and providing them with new content areas to explore.
  • The right positioning: carving out a unique selling point through a niche segment or a curated experience targeting a hobby or lifestyle preferences will be key. Discovery+ for its unscripted content targeting lifelong learners, Disney+ Hotstar for family entertainment and sports viewing, Netflix for premium or affluent audience, BritBox for British TV shows, Hayu for reality TV shows could be examples.
  • New content forms: as more physical events and activities move online – learning, exhibitions, business consulting etc. – podcasts, edutainment, gaming will augment the experience and bring it closer to reality.
  • Socially relevant content: With more consumers moving away from traditional platforms, content that integrates the social elements will be in demand.
  • Tough going for smaller companies: with their content limitations, they face reduced DAUs, flattening out of subscriptions, and reduced or stagnating advertisement revenues. One way out could be to form alliances to provide variety and choice to viewers or get acquired by larger players.
  • Loyalty/Gamification: It will play a role in keeping users engaged. In fact, Netflix has already started to offer exclusive gaming options varying from simple card games to theme based games based on popular TV series like “The Stranger Things” to their subscribed users.
  • E-commerce website for entertainment a no-no: over time, intake of users, consumption, revenues, ad revenue are bound to fall and wave of subscribers will flatten or taper.
  • Digital Rights Management (DRM): Protection of licenses and prevention of unauthorized distribution of their proprietary content are major concerns for OTT providers that can be addressed through investing in the right DRM solution.
  • Super Apps: Super Apps mostly need business collaborations and partnerships to offer various services. Thus, the rise is largely driven by large conglomerates and huge e-Commerce companies to have a sophisticated app addressing all the basic needs of a consumer. Amazon Prime Video launched Prime Video Channels in India in collaboration with 8 OTT partners to showcase premium content from them and make all content available inside the Prime Video App. These partners include Discovery+, Lionsgate Play, Docubay, Eros Now, MUBI, Hoichoi, Manorama Max, and Shorts TV.

Prime Video Channels super app

Irrespective of the specific genre or direction, the OTT provider chooses to follow, the mandate is clear – shape engaging content experiences for the consumer. The provider can’t become complacent but needs to be ready with a roadmap for retention as well. By investing in technology to build content, engage and elevate consumer experiences, they stand a better chance to gain the elusive competitive edge.

Enabling the X-factor with right experience

The instant global success of OTT as a medium, and is a turning point and milestone in the history of entertainment and broadcasting technologies. There is no other medium that allows a wider potential reach, yet puts the audience in charge. With digital re-shaping the way we interact with each other and how we entertain ourselves, the success of OTT is only the beginning for this medium. From training to gaming to keeping in touch with family, the potential is limited only by imagination.

CX/UX/Personalization: Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence power up algorithms and predictive analytics to identify consumer behavior, viewing patterns, preferences etc. and tailor the user/customer experience down to the individual consumer. These technologies are already helping the biggest in the business, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, offer unique experiences through product or content recommendations that are most relevant to that individual.

Becoming more ‘immersive’ with 5G: As 5G becomes mainstream, increased bandwidth will support more immersive streaming services such as 4K video and Virtual Reality (VR). Newer applications supporting collaboration – beyond Web conferencing – will emerge as a result. By combining 5G with OTT services, the provider can ensure less buffering and faster streaming, and therefore, venture into 360°live streaming of events etc.

Online gaming: The increase in Smart TV viewing means that passive consumption needs to be supplemented by gamification engines, interactive live television, real-time polls and more – these can be implemented with the help of 5G that promises up to 10Gbps speed and faster response times. With near-zero lag, better connectivity and data speeds, the gaming experience can be truly enhanced.

Shared OTT experiences: consumers realized the importance of spending time with family/friends during the pandemic. This led to the success of events such as Netflix’s Teleparty and Amazon Prime’s Watch Party. Powered by high-speed internet technologies, such services – consumers staying apart, watch movies together on the same video chat, or stream simultaneously within their social networks – could soon become the norm.

Multi-device, multi-platform experience: Consumers can enjoy immersive experiences on different mobile platforms, switching between devices seamlessly – including iOS & Android mobile phones, iPad and Android tablet, Apple TV, Amazon Firestick, Roku or any Android-based smart TV.

Building a multiexperience OTT

Implementing analytics and monetization strategies

The current monetization models of OTT are nascent, and as young as the medium and technology itself. Still stemming from traditional broadcasting roots advertising and subscription have been the existing models of revenue.

Advertising monetization vs subscription monetization: both models have their unique advantages. The nature/format of the content and the kind of technology investment can be deciding factors in the model that the provider chooses eventually.

Learn more about OTT monetization models in detail

The advertising monetization model enables free content with ads to consumers across multiple platforms such as connected TV, desktop, and mobile ecosystems. Here, finding new users is easier as it has in-built technology to targeting opportunities using more accurate data on user preferences. Providers can leverage predictive and prescriptive analytics using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.

In contrast, providers might choose the subscription model if they are looking to gain long-term value by delivering consistent quality content such as those in the business of entertainment, health, eLearning etc. Investing in the right technology will help them implement security and encryption integrations that are necessary for this model.
With new applications such as gaming, television commerce, learning, event streaming and personal video conferencing, successful experiments in revenue models will spell the next level in maturity for the OTT industry.

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