In the last two posts covering the Instech London IoT event on 29th November, I’ve looked at three companies bring IoT to the connected homes, and then reviewed two large companies considering where to go next with their well established business in insurance and motor. With this, the third and last in the series, we get a chance to take a look at the possibilities for IoT in commercial insurance. And the connected pet.
“Let humans do what humans do best - let machines do what machines do best” said Andrew Peet, kicking off the session on 360GlobalNet (and echoing the approach of Palantir that I reviewed recently). “We’ve heard a lot about IoT in terms of data, but we are about video” Peet added. 360GlobalNet are agnostic about where the data comes from: self service, streaming and crowd sourced videos, the company access whatever video data they can get their hands on to help improve the claims process. It seems to be working. Having started in 2010 and with the first client application released in 2013, the company has seen the NPS (Net Promotor Score) for one client increase from 76 to 83 and cost reductions of up to 20% in some cases. Bucking a popular trend, 360GlobalNet has chosen not to use apps when engaging with its customers. They found that the user experience to be twice as good if people could use more conventional means. The person making a claim can either speak to a real person at a call centre, or engage online and then receive a claims template provided by their insurer. So far the company has processed half a million claims with an average rate of 87 minutes to get the claim settled. The company also uses video to talk to people making claims and is seeing evidence that this too reduces fraudulent claims. Another example of technology being effectively used to work with, not in isolation from, human behaviour. 360GlobalNet is privately owned having been spun out of Quindell in 2015. Early this year CSC made an undisclosed investment in the company giving CSC exclusive global rights to resell all of 360GlobalNet’s products. CSC acquired UK based Xchanging in Dec 2015, and HP Enterprise Services earlier this year. It has a long history of technology acquisitions so I'm sure we will be hearing more from them in 2017.
James Andrews is the only qualified vet and ex-Mckinsey employee to be launching an Insurtech start up this year. He predicts, somewhat tongue in cheek, that by 2025 all cats and dogs will be connected to internet. He set up Felcana to track how often a pet goes outside, drinks water etc. all of which can help in diagnosing an illness. This seems a tough way to make money, but Felcana has received funding from UK Innovate and as of the time of writing has raised £22,000 of a relatively modest goal of £25,000 on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter.
It's tempting to dismiss "pet-tech" as a niche area that is largely irrelevant, but there are two factors about technology and pet insurance worth considering. According to ECI, spending on pets in the UK was £4.6bn in 2015, a 25% increase since 2010, yet the number of pets remained the same. Pets are becoming increasingly pampered and according to ECI, they are being "humanised". Secondly, pet insurance is expensive. One of the reasons BoughtbyMany, the UK insurance broker, has been successful, with over 240,000 members, is that it is able to negotiate discounts of an average of 18% with a number of the larger insurers. They have created 300 "tribes" of buyers, such as pet owners, that sign up under very specific affinity groups. There are 5 separate groups just for different types of spaniels.
Ultimately, I wouldn't be surprised if the IoT collars that Felcana offers to track your cat and generate lots of data in order to diagnose its illness is not really where the real value is. Instead, it could well be something more mundane, low tech but highly profitable; a group of people with money to spend, looking for the best priced pet insurance.
Antony Yousefian of 30MHz was up next and the first chance for us to hear about IoT aimed at the commercial insurance space.
To quote from the company’s website “most of the initiatives and investments we see today are focused on personal risk – yet the greatest value potential surely lies in commercial/ business / industrial insurance where differentiated underwriting can make the most difference”.
My prediction for 2017 is that we will see a lot more innovation and companies emerging that will make a difference in the industrial IoT area. Your mobile phone has around 14 sensors; a commercial wind turbine can have 500. The barriers to entry are higher, and it’s harder to get right but the rewards are as big or bigger than the shift we are starting to see in personal lines insurance.
30MHz build sensor networks designed around the needs of their customer. They use a plug and play dashboard that works with a large numbers of sensors (whether 100 or 5,000). Yousefian described the work they had done with the Port of Amsterdam. With remote monitoring designed by 30MHz it is now possible for the Port to measure the extent of flex on the expensive and business critical docking plates, minimizing the need for manual inspection and reducing the potential for failure. Another of the company's clients is a farmer using sensors to prevent scalding on his peppers. His yields have increased from 6% - 15% and he reckons he is generating an ROI in excess of 1,000%. 30 MHz is based in Amsterdam and has received $1.5 million in seed funding. The company is currently looking for partners in the insurance space.
Finally we heard from Claudio Martone of Concirrus. Concirrus was started in 2012 by Andrew Yeoman (CEO formerly at Trimble Navigation) and Craig Hollingworth (Business Development Officer, with a career in telecoms and mobile technology). The idea came about when the two founders realised that a lot of data was becoming available to insurers, but there were few effective ways to use it. Having started out in telematics, providing analytics on the habits of car drivers, Concirrus is now branching out into other areas of IoT, and is starting to explore industrial applications. Their approach is device agnostic. The team believe that the successful companies in IoT will be those have the most sophisticated analytics, providing the ability to create actionable insights that can reduce insurance costs and expand the insurance customer base. Concirrus won "Best IoT Company UK" award in Corporate Vision’s (CV) Technology Innovator Awards earlier this year.
Concirrus received £3m ($4m) of Series A funding in September this year from Imperial Innovations. Imperial Innovations looks for opportunities where it can invest and create commercial solutions from research that is taking place at academic centres within the 'golden triangle' formed by Cambridge, Oxford and London.
That brings an end to this sequence of reports, and the last Instech London event of the year. Yet again, the Instech London team have been able to bring together a complementary set of new (and some not so new) businesses and proved that great events can be done on a low budget. The speed dating style of presentation, with no powerpoint, creates a bond between the presenters and the audience. In defiance of what most conventional presentation training preaches, the occasional lapse of memory by presenters, stage fright or need to refer to notes by presenters makes the whole experience more real. It is of huge value to hear from the people at the sharp end of building new businesses, who have taken an hour or two out of a full day writing code or talking to customers, to come and present to the lively crowd at Instech London. In the early days of a company so much depends upon the management team; many of the most successful companies abandoned their initial ideas. Better a presentation which is a bit rough round the edges than some overworked, sanitised corporate powerpoint deck which reveals little about the heart and soul of the business, or the people behind it.
Robin Merttens and Paolo Cuomo have created something great with Instech London in a relatively short time. It's not just an event, but a growing community of over 1,600 people. Many new friendships have been made through the regular evening events. Some have found new business partners and I know others that have been inspired to start planning their own startups. Instech London will return bigger, brighter and even better in 2017 – whilst taking care not to lose its irreverent and slightly hand-made feel which keeps it real. We are currently talking to new partners about sponsorship for the 2017 series. If you are interested in learning more about how your organisation can support Instech London 2017, please contact me on email@example.com
In the meantime, if you are looking for some reading over the coming break, and want to learn more about other examples of large scale deployments of IoT I thoroughly recommend Tim Chou’s book Precision: Principles, Practices and Solutions for the Internet of Things.
This article was originally published on Linkedin