Futureproofing the present
Wed 18 Jul 2012
The digital image on the glass table is grabbed by a hand. In an instant it expands to fill the screen. This is technology straight out of a sci-fi film - in the lobby of Lloyd’s.
Think of just about any industry and it is clear that the technological timeline is speeding up. For businesses to stay ahead of the competition in this fast-developing environment it is arguable that they need to stay alert to what’s current, what’s anticipated, and whether technology being used in a different industry could be transposed into their own.
That’s why, at a recent Lloyd’s market event, brokers and underwriters had the chance to try out interactive ‘touch tables’ to explore how technology could enhance the face-to-face model of business adopted by Lloyd’s.
The vision is that one day, brokers and underwriters could gather around touch-screen embedded tables and work on the same digital documentation - saving reams of paper and valuable time. Information could be updated in an instant and back-end systems updated immediately.
Reminiscent of the high-tech screens seen in the film ‘Minority Report’, these screens proved a huge draw, and provided an insight into the potential future technological development of the market.
While much work remains to be undertaken to bring this futuristic vision into the present, Richard Ward, CEO of Lloyd’s, is confident of the beneficial impact such technology could have on existing business practices:
“Lloyd’s has always been about relationships, about trust and the face-to-face model of doing business, and it always will be. This innovative technology shows how technology can support our face-to-face model to deliver a swifter and more consistent service to Lloyd’s clients”, he said.
What once seemed miraculous is now “old hat”. The iPod was unveiled to a fascinated public in 2001, yet just a decade later we saw the launch of iPhone 4S which responds to verbal requests to perform a range of actions from calling a taxi to telling the time in Uttar Pradesh.
The rise and rise of technology has, unsurprisingly, seen both winners and losers. Travel agents, many card shops, and even high-street insurers have gradually disappeared from our city centres as online retailing attracts a greater and yet greater market share.
According to research from Forrester, online retail in both the US and Western Europe will continue to enjoy double-digit growth, despite challenging economic conditions, reaching $279 billion and $134 billion respectively by 2015.
While nothing can replace exceptional customer service, the ways in which businesses can use technology to enhance it are now entering the next, and exciting, stage of their evolution. Lloyd’s is looking to harness this next stage in the technological evolutionary process better to provide for its existing, and future, customers. As Paul Willoughby, Senior Project Manager at Lloyd's Market Development says:
“The Lloyd’s market has a long history of innovation and the development of new technology like the touch tables, let’s us explore how the market’s journey to modernisation might evolve."