There was no shortage of technological innovations in 2016, revolutionizing consumer behavior and business services. This was certainly the case for BNP Paribas Cardif (read the review of 2016).
We take a look back at the trends which marked 2016 and what we can expect in 2017, in a joint interview with Jérôme Mlynarczyk and Edouard Thurotte, experts at Cardif Lab’, the BNP Paribas Cardif innovations laboratory.
In 2016, we saw a number of innovations in a wide range of fields (e-health, 3D printing, data analysis, etc.). What are your highlights from 2016?
Jérôme Mlynarczyk: Firstly, 2016 offered clear confirmation of a groundswell in relation to connected objects. We are now seeing real use cases, for example with developments in the fields of home automation, healthcare, connected wellness and in the automotive sector, of course, an area in which equipment levels are increasing rapidly. The technology is now more mature and gradually becoming more mainstream compared with a few months ago.
Edouard Thurotte: I believe that the major revolution in 2016 was virtual reality, announced at CES 2016 and then confirmed by consumer solutions used in video games.
These first steps towards more widespread use were made possible through improvements to the user experience, since the new generation of hardware is much less awkward to use than before. The social aspects of virtual reality are also expanding rapidly. The growth in video games using virtual reality will take off once it becomes possible to play in a network, reflecting our society's need for experiences and emotions. This has been demonstrated by Pokémon Go, which offers a gaming experience, a technological experience and also a social experience, allowing users to team up and play together.
JM: And we have fully taken on board this appetite for virtual reality at Cardif Lab’, organizing several introductory workshops over the course of the year which proved immensely popular with BNP Paribas Cardif employees.
Technology has evolved enormously, so much so that users can now spend hours on their devices... with all the risks that entails! However, it is interesting to note that these uses are still focused on entertainment and mostly aimed at the general public, with very little for businesses.
ET: Of course, the other main trend of 2016 was chatbots, which have an interesting capacity to be totally “customer-centric”. They bring service to the client, for example on Facebook via Messenger. This approach personalizes the relationship – responding to a clear need expressed by clients.
It therefore heralds a new era for conversations, which some players have already embraced, including the American insurer offering policy subscriptions via its chatbot tool.
JM: It was also a key year for the exploitation of data in 2016, with new uses of artificial intelligence and machine learning, boosted by real-time learning based on data analysis.
New roles have been created to support this data revolution, including that of "data scientist". These hybrid profiles are now capable of combining technical knowledge with functional capabilities and this new approach is clearly relevant to us as an insurer.
Having begun in 2015, this trend was confirmed for BNP Paribas Cardif in 2016 and is set to become even more pronounced in 2017.
Data exploitation can be displayed in several ways, with the constant aim of creating a conceptualized and personalized client relationship.
For insurance, this is part of the “pay how you live” trend (insurance solutions offered according to the consumer's behavior, based on analysis of personal data), applied to motor or home insurance, for example. In terms of technology, we are reaching a stage where we are seeing the emergence of services with real value-added.
Based on these conclusions for 2016, what are the main trends to look out for in 2017?
ET: One of the challenges faced in 2017 by companies in the IoT market, and the associated services sector generally, will be their ability to create a fluid and entirely customer-focused interface in order to develop the use of connected objects.
I believe that the Smart Home sector will really take off among consumers in 2017 as it highlights efficient and practical interactions between a wide range of connected objects in the home via simplified interfaces using voice recognition. This simplification of interfaces will lead to more widespread take-up. There will be fierce competition between the various players offering voice-activated assistants, revealing what lies “under the hood” of the various solutions and whether artificial intelligence can live up to its name.
JM: Another much anticipated development for 2017, particularly for Cardif Lab’, is mixed reality which will combine the power of virtual reality and the potential of augmented reality with services aimed at both consumers and businesses. Our sector may benefit, since it will soon be possible to present real-time information to clients in a natural way, by learning about their environment via sensors. Mixed reality promises uses offering greater value-added than virtual reality, which I believe is too detached from the real world. Experiments at Cardif Lab’ using the HoloLens virtual reality headset have already confirmed this trend!
ET: It will also be interesting in 2017 to monitor the impact of the start-up ecosystem on large groups. Now that these big players have accepted the need for digital transformation (vital to their survival in their respective markets), we will see how successful they are in collaborating with startups. Will the large number of funding rounds and initiatives by large groups to support startups pay off? How much market concentration will take place? Who will be left standing? All these developments will be fascinating to watch this year. It will also be an important year in this respect for BNP Paribas Cardif, with the acceleration of open innovation projects and support for startups.
To keep up to date with all the latest developments in 2017 at Cardif Lab’, subscribe to the Cardif Lab' Twitter account!