Alexandra Bigland Transport & Logistics, Technology, Investment Management...
Our specialist consultants have visibility of entire industries that are being innovated, offering some of the best opportunities for today’s technology change professionals. Here we discuss why certain industries are being disrupted for the better, and the latest tech that is driving these changes.
Blockchain is a distributed ledger innovation with fantastic potential in insurance, enabling organisations to store static records or transaction data without central coordination by using automated mechanisms to check the validity of transactions.
It is mostly discussed in the banking arena but the technology is also being used to develop insurance products and services for growth, increasing effectiveness in fraud detection and pricing, and reducing administrative costs. Professionals who have upskilled in this area are highly sought after.
Companies such as IMB and Microsoft are already using their cloud infrastructure to build custom blockchains for customers. Since the beginning of 2016, $796m has been invested in blockchain ventures, according to data by Coindesk. And more recent predictions of growth state that blockchain could become an $8 billion global industry by 2024.
Technologies like blockchain will further establish the “insurtech” sector, with rafts of start-ups looking to cut-in and disrupt the industry. An overwhelming 86% of insurers feel that 20% of their sales are at risk from insurtech, with over half of the 189 senior insurance executives across the globe now looking to invest in mobile technology to keep pace.
Another key technology is Power BI, a suite of Microsoft business analytics tools that show insights across an organisation. First released in July 2015, Power BI enables a firm to absorb interactive visual representations of big data, improving decision-making at all levels. The analytics tool also has self-service business intelligence capabilities, allowing end users to create reports and dashboards without assistance from IT staff.
Tools like Power BI are revolutionising quick reporting, enabling businesses to gain insights from data within minutes. Power BI is making business performance data easily accessible to all staff, making it a key element for their vision of the next steps to take.
When you mention technological changes to those in investment, you’re likely to hear the words “robo-adviser”. Despite being relatively new to the UK market, major emerging robo-advisor brands reached £1 billion of assets in May 2017, according to Boring Money.
Whilst some in the industry are sceptical and even anxious of the rise of this new tech, with traditional wealth management being challenged, many are already moving towards the new model with businesses like MoneyFarm attracting over £260 million of investment.
One of the most successful robo-advisers is that of Scalable Capital. As with many, Scalable Capital creates a selection of portfolios based on your tolerance, with a focus on globally-diversified portfolios that can incur wealth in the long term. Nutmeg is another well-known robo-advised investment service with the company proudly stating they are ‘the UK’s biggest’. Nutmeg’s slick brand and marketing strategy epitomises the new-age challenger brands in the investment sector.
Transport & Logistics
Technology is dramatically changing the way transportation works. Contactless ticketing, famously pioneered by Transport for London (TfL) via the Oyster card since July 2003, has revolutionised the way passengers pay for travel. Once only used by TfL in London, the model is being rolled out across the UK on both bus and rail.
Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) recently introduced a new smartcard for use on tram and bus services. The ‘get me there’ card will work in a similar mode as London’s Oyster by allowing passengers to pay for travel online and review their purchases, giving people freedom to not carry cash or queue at ticket machines.
Croydon’s tram network is also considering going contactless as TfL is considering replacing paper tickets and cash payments as of next year.
Electronic ticketing not only provides a multiple-choice way of paying for travel (journeys can be prepaid via online, credit card terminals or by cash), but it also gives transport providers ‘big data’ by giving insight into passenger’s journeys and purchasing habits. Access to this invaluable information helps transport providers plan journeys and improve services.
Another key change in transport technology is the installation of Wi-Fi onboard buses and trains. ‘Bespoke’ buses operated by Transdev unveiled a £4.6million fleet of 30 buses in late July in East Lancashire. What makes these buses particularly interesting is the inclusion of free Wi-Fi and USB and wireless charging and ‘countdown to departure’ destination screens.
As the internet continues to lure shoppers away from the high street, businesses are using technology to stoke the fires both online and offline. eWallet and pay by phone apps are allowing customers to make transactions whenever and wherever.
And it’s not just the way people can pay for items that is being influenced by new technology. Instore shopping is progressing, too. Recently Walmart has made steps in developing facial recognition according to Business Insider, with other businesses throughout Europe also looking to adapt using this technology.
It uses video cameras in-store to monitor customer’s facial expressions and movements to gauge different levels of satisfaction. Retail group Arcadia has also made technological advancements instore, with in-store online ordering service for some of its brands – similar to the likes of Argos and McDonalds.
Through innovative technology comes new ways of working and new opportunities. The rate at which these industries are changing is creating a vibrant discussion about the futures of the businesses and professionals that are involved in them. It’s an exciting time to be a part of these worlds.