In the hands of companies with vision, technology is not just a tool for accomplishing short-term goals but a voyage in which innovation leads to innovation and business models evolve to take advantage of new opportunities those innovations create.
A good example of this sort of evolution is Control Expert, a service provider for the auto insurance and auto fleet industries. The company was founded in Germany in 2002 with the objective of making motor claims and maintenance management easier, faster, and more efficient for all parties involved. In the earliest iterations, that meant digitizing manual processes for insurance companies, fleet operators, leasing firms, repair shops, and car dealerships and creating a standardized communication platform to connect them.
As Control Expert grew, it collected a huge amount of data on car repairs, which it used to analyze damage and claims patterns. It also built a digital network connecting a significant number of garages, enabling digitally managed workflows. These services enabled savings to insurers of up to 10 percent of repair costs. More important, it began using artificial intelligence to supplement its team of automotive experts. In time, the company developed the ability to perform audits of appraisals, estimates, invoices, and maintenance documents in an almost fully automated way. By using big data, employees today are significantly faster at estimating repair costs and determining how much the compensation customers will receive after accidents.
The evolution up to this point took a now-classic form: The initial strategy of digitizing and expediting transactions created data that enabled Control Expert to add value—expediting the processes that lay behind the transactions and providing insurers with greater insight into their customers, costs, and potential areas for improvement. The next step: Don’t just accelerate traditional processes—replace them with new processes that take advantage of Control Expert’s massive database (now more than 7 million transaction audits a year) and fundamentally alters customer experience.
Control Expert’s first endeavor in this new level of service is the Easy Claim app. After an accident, the customer calls the insurance company. The insurance company then sends an Internet link to Easy Claim to the smartphone of the customer. Using the app behind the link, the customer takes photos of the damage and the vehicle registration certificate. In a few minutes, Control Expert calculates the compensation payment and offers a choice between this payment and navigation to a garage to get the car repaired. If the customer chooses the compensation payment, the claim is settled in minutes.
And beyond Easy Claim? Today, Control Expert advises the automotive industry on how to build cars that will cost less to insure. One element of its vision of future services is using sensors in cars to evaluate claims at the moment the accident occurs. This would allow a new level of roadside assistance and claim regulation, without even taking a picture of the car. The end vision is that as the car comes to a stop after a crash, the technology has already calculated the extent of the damage using data from the sensors in the car. It will then offer the same services offered today by Easy Claim on a screen in the car itself: a full embedding of insurance coverage into the car ecosystem.
The lesson? Get used to the idea that technology can do more than solve your current problems. In an increasingly digital world, the steps you take to cure today’s headaches can bring you into a new realm of opportunity—but only if you are looking for it.