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2017 was an eventful year in business. From record-setting natural disasters, to high profile announcements on technology choices, to the expansion of self-service technology further into all sectors of business, businesses faced several key challenges this year. We’ve put together a list of trends in 2018 that may emerge from these issues.

Renewed Focus on Disaster Recovery/Continuity

With a record-setting hurricane season and overall losses estimated at over $360B, Munich Re reports that 2017 was the second most expensive year for natural disasters ever recorded. In the US alone, fires ravaged California and the pacific northwest, floods and hurricanes struck the southeast, and no fewer than five major tornado/hail outbreaks occurred, each causing more than $1B in losses. Globally, the past year’s other disasters included typhoons, severe flooding, earthquakes and volcano eruptions. Ernst Rauch, head of Munich Re’s Corporate Climate Center, stated that these patterns were likely to continue. “We have a new normal. 2017 was not an outlier.”

As businesses are faced with operating in environments where large scale natural disasters are increasingly common, expect to see a renewed focus on disaster recovery and business continuity. Rebounding from these events and returning to normal operations will become another factor on which businesses need to compete. One of our clients used Origami Risk to monitor and track the progress of relocations and reopenings after the floodings in Houston, demonstrating an innovative way to utilize RMIS technology to overcome these challenges.

These disasters will also place greater pressure on policy management, as premiums rise and coverages adjust to reflect the “new normal”. Similarly, catastrophe planning, supply chain management, and timely values collection will all face more scrutiny. Look for more companies to explore how RMIS solutions can improve each of these processes in 2018.

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Death of the Spreadsheet (Again)

A recent story in the Wall Street Journal created some buzz as Adobe and P. F. Chang’s Bistro both announced they were moving away from the use of spreadsheets. Other studies have long shown the hidden costs of using spreadsheets as an analysis tool including administrative overhead, the impact of non-timely data, and the notoriously high error rates embedded in a spreadsheet-driven process. F1F9, a financial modeling firm, estimates that 50% of all spreadsheets at large companies contain material defects.

While the organizational pain of dealing with spreadsheets has been well known for many years, and their demise has been foretold before, having high profile companies shine a light on finding better tools may finally pave the way for larger scale change within the risk, claims, and insurance space. Eliminating spreadsheet chaos and automating data collection and transfer is no longer simply wishful thinking-- it’s essential. Origami Risk conducted an analysis of studies on claims adjusters and found that high performing organizations were 4X more likely to use automation than all other groups.

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Self-service Continues to Expand to Business Users

Forrester listed the expansion of self-service as one of the customer service top trends for 2017. This reflects the seemingly inexhaustible consumer demand for increasing abilities to manage accounts and get critical information on their own. When 900 shoppers were asked what changes Amazon should make at Whole Foods (acquired this summer), “cashier-free checkouts” ranked number one, even beating out lower prices. Little Caesars created a “pizza portal” that reserves ordered pizzas in a hot locker that can be opened by the customer (self-served) with a mobile code. This consumer insistence on access to self-service tools is likely to continue pushing onward into the business world.

Online portals are increasingly being used to bring self-service convenience to all levels of an organization. Although portals have proven to be an effective way to collect and share data more efficiently, organizations are struggling to deploy them. A 2017 global study from Fujitsu found that less than half (42%) of respondent organizations offered portal-based support services providing ‘anywhere’ access to applications and services.

Given this struggle, look for more businesses to rely on vendor technology that includes the ability to create custom portals for their internal end-users. For example, Banner Health, one of the U.S.'s largest non-profit healthcare systems, is using Origami Risk’s custom portals to handle functions as diverse as reporting on-site HIPAA concerns, managing requests for liability coverage for off-site activities, and even collecting property and automobile values for insurance purposes. With the right RMIS vendor, self-service portals can be created for all types of unique business functions.

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