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Salesforce Industries & Smart Communications: A Candid Conversation about Digital Transformation in Insurance


By: James Brown, CEO of Smart Communications

I recently had a great conversation with Raja Singh, Senior Vice President, Insurance at Salesforce Industries about digital transformation in the insurance industry. Journalist Lindley Gooden hosted the exchange, and we touched on everything from pandemic pressures to cautions about cloud “posers,” or legacy systems that are managed in the cloud. Over the years, Raja and I have lived the ups and downs of digital transformation, helping numerous shared customers make the most of the journey.

Along the way, and especially over the accelerated shift this past year, we’ve gathered some insights that Raja and I discussed in a new video. Highlights from our conversation are below:

Digital transformation relies on real cloud (no cloud posers).
So many companies today claim to offer cloud solutions.  But “kind-of” cloud doesn’t cut it. When you’re considering cloud options for digital transformation, there are a few things to consider?

  • Is it immediately available?
  • Will it automatically be upgraded?
  • Is the data accessible via APIs?

By putting cloud at the core versus just moving small elements of the solution to the cloud, you get the critical mass of cloud benefits: access to the richness of APIs and meaningful savings on integration and maintenance costs. To create the new digital experiences your customers are looking for (and 85% of consumers have told us they prefer digital), you need real cloud agility.

Your customers expect better digital experiences.
We live in an immediate, digitally intuitive world. Your customers are comparing the experience with you as their insurance provider to the best consumer internet platforms out there, so the bar is high. While the initial policy purchase experience sets the tone, the claims experience is really the moment of truth. It’s a make-or-break interaction where insurers can build and reinforce lasting customer relationships with the right solutions in place. How insurers collect data during this oftentimes emotional or stressful moment is key. Nothing is more frustrating than being asked questions on a form that an insurer should already know the answer to. An intelligent, conversational questioning approach that feels like an adaptive interview is everything.

Automation is the future of insurance.
Automation is definitely a key theme of 2021. The holy grail in the insurance industry is taking what you know about a claim and the customer, and auto-adjudicating it without involving a person. So, how do we apply the right rules to speed the process along? By recognizing automation as a continuum. This will be an ongoing process of optimization where we add more rules so fewer claims get passed to humans. AI must inherently be part of this, but right now insurance leaders are automating what they know today, and adding more as trust grows in the technology.

Personalization powers better relationships.
It’s human nature to want to be seen and known. In an industry addressing incredibly personal things like your life, your health or a loss of a loved one, of course customers want to feel seen and known. The shift to customer-centricity over policy-centricity is key. Delivering a seamless process start to finish that feels personalized, truly tailored and sensitive to the situation is essential. And it’s a real business driver — 60% of consumers will abandon an interaction if they feel the information collection process is poor. Automating, orchestrating and adding intelligence into the process while personalizing the communications experience with two-way conversations is key.

You must know what’s holding you back to move forward.
There are no two ways about it—change is hard! Salesforce did a study of 300 insurance executives in conjunction with Newsweek to identify overarching industry challenges to digital transformation. Three findings rose to the top:

  • Legacy systems are holding back progress
  • Most companies lack the in-house expertise to execute transformation
  • We work in a change-averse culture

The good news is, despite how hard it is, the insurance industry is really trying. Finding and implementing these opportunities demands bringing the expertise of your business teams, product folks, designers and technologists together. But ultimately, you need cloud solutions that let ordinary business users take control of driving new ways to communicate and connect with customers.

Smart Communications and Salesforce Industries are excited to partner to help bring these industry changes to life. With deep, shared industry expertise and a shared vision of the cloud, we see what connected core systems and truly personalized, two-way customer conversations can do to make digital transformation to the industry.

Watch the video below to see our full conversation about digital transformation in insurance.