A thought-provoking article that raises plenty of questions and prompted a lively debate here at Morning Data Towers!

Most of us humans have long been somewhat afraid of technological advances - especially the gathering pace at which they seem to happen. I submit in evidence a whole raft of ‘technology gone bad’ movies; my own teenage anxiety about nuclear war was writ large in 1983 film “War Games” (look it up, kids!) but I am sure you’ll have your own personal favourite in this genre.

What interested me particularly about this article is it implies that both intermediaries and insurers may be feeling that they are in real danger of becoming obsolete; the ultimate fear that all consumers will soon be purchasing all their insurance in a self-service world from machines without any other human intervention.

This led me to think of my personal bête-noir, the supermarket self-checkout. How many times I have wanted to yell at the automated ‘lady’ calmly telling me I have an unexpected item in my bagging area! Finally, a wonderful human intermediary comes along and resolve my issues; I make a silent vow never to use the self-checkout again.

Surely, though, the self-checkout technology has earnt its place in the customer service arena? If I just want to buy one or two unrestricted items that I can pop into my pocket and make a quick getaway, the self-checkout is perfect. If, however, I have more time and a full trolley including items such as alcohol, razors, an 18-rated DVD and I’ve also forgotten my shopping bags, then the traditional checkout operator is going to be my friend.

This allegory fits quite nicely with the seemingly never-ending angst about face-to-face versus the electronic that has been raging for decades in the London market. We can truly no longer afford to procrastinate; it’s imperative we work collaboratively to fully embrace technological solutions, creating greater efficiencies in areas such as standardised data capture, flow and analysis. This in turn frees our ‘human resources’ to demonstrate the true value of face-to-face human interaction between clients, intermediaries, underwriters and third parties. Embrace technology for the data, value your humans for the client service - it doesn’t have to be either/or!

To quote my colleague Kirstin Duffield “It's about creating an open ecosystem. And we need to move fast to stay in the running.”