KASKO’s Insurance Interviews: “The Partner & Insurer Series” — Kevin Maher of @Sigfox

Source: Kasko’s blog

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Subsequent to our previous 2018 interview series on the merits, tribulations and opportunities of cyber insurance, KASKO now launches a new array of interviews, where we will be introducing exciting and innovative startups and insurers. Here, our partners will present their business in general and give insights into their latest thoughts about the insurance industry, IoT, … Be ready for some inspiring stuff!

In this first episode, we talked to Kevin Maher from the French global network operator Sigfox.

Could you tell us a little about yourself and what you do?

I am the Sigfox Country Director for the UK and Ireland. My role is to support the local Sigfox Operators WND UK and VT Ireland as they build out their public IoT wireless networks and develop an ecosystem of device/sensor manufacturers and solution providers. It is a wide and varied role drawing on my experience in the cellular industry with the last 10 years focused specifically on the M2M and emerging IoT markets.

Are you working on anything interesting at the moment?

There are many interesting and innovative projects that will fundamentally change the way humans interact with their environment. Sigfox’s technology is purpose built to address the principal requirements of IoT (low cost devices and connectivity, simple provisioning and long battery life) and also provides baseline connectivity, using a single global 0G standard, as a backup to broadband networks. We are experiencing a huge demand for supply and logistics optimization (tracking of containers, trolleys, crates and pallets) that, until now, have not been cost effective to track.

Who are your customers and what types of services and products can they expect from you?

Our customers range from multi-national companies with operations across the world to solutions providers offering services to monitor, maintain, detect and respond to specific events. As well as track and trace, these services include insurance-based services for monitoring of buildings, machinery and assets. Sigfox is the technology enabler for these services and customers can expect cost efficient and reliable data retrieval from their devices/sensors with a global SLA to offer a worldwide end-to-end service.

There’s a lot being written about the state of the industry; sometimes it’s difficult to know where to find accurate, insightful discourse. Which three blogs and/or news sources do you usually read? And if you could only recommend one, which would it be?

We usually read the analysts reports and tier-1 financial media (such as the FT) to get the most accurate industry insights but we also cross lots of information from other sources to getter a better view.

We are seeing that partnerships and cooperation are increasing in the insurance industry. What are the pros and cons from your point of view and any particular partnership that caught your eye recently and why?

Insurance companies by their very nature are risk averse which makes innovation in the service delivery model difficult. IoT is transformational and new technologies such as 0G networks add tremendous value, but solution providers must work hard to convince insurance companies and prove the return on investment. Partnerships are absolutely necessary, but all parties need to be open and to work together on a journey of discovery. The best example I have seen recently that is showing great success is the detection of water leaks in residential and commercial buildings using a simple sensor linked to a platform that alerts when a leak is detected and arranges for an engineer to be dispatched to rectify. The service is endorsed by several insurance companies and can either be offered directly by the insurance company as an add-on to the customer’s insurance policy or, in the case of a third party building services the insurance company offers a discount to the policy if a leak detection system is installed. The partnership succeeded because all parties remained focused on solving the customer’s pain and not on pushing a service.

Partnering with large corporates like insurers is never an easy feat. Could you state the best arguments why insurers should cooperate with your company? Which additional benefits can you offer to them and most important to their customers?

Digital Transformation uses new technologies to solve problems utilising cloud computing and subscription-based cloud services. Wireless connectivity is a key element in the value chain and many insurance-based services use technologies such as WIFI and cellular, both of which have their strengths in terms of data bandwidth but are not designed for the specific requirements of IoT. Sigfox technology has been specifically designed for IoT applications. Collaborating with Sigfox allows insurers to unlock services that, until now, have not been possible to rollout at scale.

Which partners would you prefer to cooperate with at the moment? What would be the expected outcome from this?

Solutions providers with relationships with insurers, System Integrators, facilities management companies, logistics companies, home and commercial building services providers (security, plumbing, fire detection). Sigfox can use experience from multiple proofs of concept and commercial deployments to build a tailored business case and return on investment for each use case to show the value to insurers.

As partnering can take some time, which other distribution channels do you recognize to be most effective for your business?

Sigfox operators have hundreds of channel partners offering a range of IoT solutions for business and consumers. Many are in discussions with insurers and, in some cases, working in collaboration to build momentum and help leverage a range of new services which will transform the insurance business.

Innovation is inarguably crucial right now. Do you have any secrets for innovation-success?

It’s all about return on investment for the customer. There are lots of innovative solutions out there that never see the light of day because the provider doesn’t understand the customer’s challenges. It’s not about pushing a clever solution, it’s about knowing the customer’s pain points and demonstrating that we can resolve them with a clear business case that justifies the investment. The customer doesn’t care about the details of how it’s done.

Thanks for your time. One final question, where do you see the industry in five-years-time?

IoT solutions are perfectly suited to an insurance-based model and we are now seeing alignment with simplicity, low cost and ease of provisioning of solutions that add value across a vast range of use cases in multiple verticals. I believe we will see exponential growth over the next five years, and I expect to see tracking and tracing of assets ranging from containers, crates, and pallets to parcels, packages and goods that will provide an unprecedented level of visibility. IoT solutions will also monitor, maintain and alert to prevent unexpected failures and accidents from occurring thus reducing claims for compensation. The opportunities for insurers will be enormous.

Any other questions or statements that you would like to add? 🙂

We will run our annual event, Sigfox Connect, in Singapore on November 20–21, 2019. This will be an important worldwide event dedicated to IoT where all the ecosystem will meet providing an opportunity to learn more about how 0G will drastically change the way we interact together in the near future.