You may have heard “ecosystems” referred to in a business context, where a number of companies from different industries partner to create an interconnected set of services that give the customer a single, integrated experience.

It turns out that insurers aren’t yet well equipped for ecosystems, despite their eagerness to participate.

A new Accenture study found that less than 5 percent of insurers are “ecosystem masters”—companies that give some sort of transformative service within a collective business ecosystem—and plan to lead as many other ecosystems as possible to spread the innovation. In fact, insurers came in second-to-last among the dozen industries analyzed for this category, Accenture said.

“Insurers have to decide whether they want to be the disrupters or the disrupted,” Michael Lyman, a senior managing director who leads Accenture Strategy in North America and its Insurance practice globally, said in prepared remarks. “Joining or designing market-leading ecosystems will enable insurers to ride the disruption wave instead of being swept up in it.”

In what ways are insurers falling short with this? Accenture said that insurers lag behind other sectors regarding their ecosystem strategy, culture, innovation and technology adoption. This is even with some qualities insurers already have that are important to ecosystems, such as longstanding customer relationships and richness and depth of data.

Accenture found at the same time that insurer enthusiasm for ecosystem ventures is strong. About 84 percent of insurance executives said that ecosystems were important to their business strategy, and 54 percent said they are actively seeking ecosystem opportunities. Also, 97 percent of insurers surveyed said they have the right stuff to be a good ecosystem partner.

To get there, Accenture recommends such steps as including a clear ecosystem strategy that would “either reinvent or completely disrupt the existing insurance value chain to improve their competitiveness.”

Accenture’s report (Insurers: Go All-In On Ecosystems) is based on a study of more than 1,250 business leaders, including 106 insurance executives.

Source: Accenture