How The Corporate Cafeteria Is Changing

 

Even as the sprawling dining halls of old struggle with emptier workplaces, food is still important to employees, particularly the young. Many companies are reinventing the company meal. The corporate cafeteria can be an especially lonely place these days.

“You used to walk in at 12 o’clock on a Tuesday and stand in line to get something,” said Casey Allen, 46, who works for a division of the agricultural chemical company BASF in Raleigh, N.C. “Now, you walk in and you’re usually first in line.” A paternalistic fixture of white-collar life born of the Industrial Revolution, the office dining room survived the midcentury move to sprawling suburban office parks.

It weathered the rise and fall of cubicle culture and power lunches, and more recently, the lavish excess of the Silicon Valley office lunch. But as the American office emerges from its pandemic slumber, can the cafeteria survive layoffs, a workweek that sometimes requires only a few days in the mother ship and a new, more demanding generation of employees?

Even at companies like Meta, which this month announced that it would lay off 126 cafeteria employees at its headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., workers are skipping free meals in a quest to leave the office as soon as possible.

“The world of the traditional big cafeteria is dead,” said Fedele Bauccio, who in 1987 co-founded Bon Appétit Management Company, which runs food service at hundreds of museums, universities and companies like LinkedIn. “They are just too expensive to maintain, and not flexible enough.”

Still, office workers need to eat. So companies are blowing up the cafeteria. Long regarded as a way to encourage productivity, cafeterias are being reframed as respite and recreation, designed to attract younger workers in a job market badly in need of them.

Some companies are installing cocktail bars, or hosting sunset oyster-shucking parties to help employees relax and socialize after work. The large dining halls at tech giants are being divided into smaller, more homey spaces flexible enough to feed a work force whose size changes drastically day to day. Developers are building restaurants that function like subsidized corporate cafeterias but are open to the public.

“Free pizza isn’t enough anymore,” said Andrew Montesano, the North America food programming and operations manager at LinkedIn. Employees, especially younger ones, are demanding more culturally authentic meals and climate-friendly kitchen protocols, like reducing waste, according to Mr. Bauccio and others in the corporate food service business. They are eating less meat and questioning labor practices. Health and wellness have become a menu mantra.

Companies that aren’t paying attention are likely to suffer, said Jennifer A. Chatman, associate dean for academic affairs at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. Smart leaders know that informal interaction can keep corporate culture from eroding as remote work persists, and may be the main purpose for coming to the office in the future, she said.

“A cafeteria is not the only way to get there,” Dr. Chatman said, “but people need to eat, and we know eating together fosters interaction.” Food has become such an important recruitment and retention tool that some applicants for remote jobs are even offered credits with food delivery companies, or generous weekly lunch stipends — benefits that may be especially prized as inflation drives up food costs.

Free meals can also offer psychological rewards, Dr. Chatman said. “There’s an advantage to being able to say, ‘My company buys me lunch every day.’ There is a symbolic value in feeling like you are being taken care of by the company.” On the shores of South San Francisco, an airy two-story restaurant called the Anecdote opened in March on a biotech campus. It functions like a corporate cafe, but has the look and feel of a restaurant.

 

Bon Appétit Management Company pioneered the idea with real estate developers. Companies in the building can use the restaurant as a way to offer employee meals, sometimes free or at a discount. But anyone can stop in for dishes like crispy tofu sliders and $16 Dungeness crab cakes.

Company downsizing and hybrid work hours prompted the idea, but cities — particularly on the West Coast — that are pushing companies to stop providing abundant free food helped it along, said Alison Harper, a Bon Appétit district manager. Huge corporate cafeterias, the reasoning goes, keep workers from patronizing local food businesses, and offer nothing for the neighborhood.

“The pandemic speeded up what I consider a paradigm shift that was already happening in the Bay Area and beyond,” she said. “Cities were saying we don’t want big, closed cafeterias that don’t benefit the community anymore.” Hans-Peter Goertz, 48, eats at the Anecdote during the three days each week he goes to the Cytokinetics office. He misses the variety and speed of food service at his former employer, Genentech, where a dosa or an order of fresh, local fish was delivered fast and free.

A meal at the Anecdote, he said, is more akin to a longer, European-style lunch. “I can get a really nice meal for $4 or $5 in a beautiful setting with an innovative menu,” Mr. Goertz said. “It’s a very nice perk that translates beyond the economics.” There may be no better example of the changing fortunes of corporate dining than the former Condé Nast cafeteria in Midtown Manhattan, once an exclusive palace of power where the editor Anna Wintour ordered blood-rare burgers, and one might spot Cameron Diaz at the salad bar or John Updike having lunch with a New Yorker editor.

The cafeteria line became so legendary that it had a role in the film “The Devil Wears Prada.” (“You do know that cellulite is one of the main ingredients in corn chowder,” Stanley Tucci tells a young new hire ladling some into a bowl.) The Durst Organization opened the revamped cafeteria at 151 West 42nd Street in 2018, after Condé Nast moved out.

Part of its $150 million renovation was spent giving the cafeteria, originally designed by the famed architect Frank Gehry, a face lift. Anyone whose company rents space in the building is welcome. Durst put beehives on the roof of a neighboring building and uses its honey in the cafeteria. It began offering master classes in cooking lobster and fresh pasta. Food scraps are shipped to the company’s 1,800-acre McEnroe Organic Farm near Millerton, N.Y., and the compost is used to grow vegetables for the cafeteria line.

Quality food, served in refined gathering spots, has been such a winning formula that Durst is replicating it in its building at 825 Third Avenue, which is also undergoing a $150 million renovation. By this summer, employees at companies like Gotham Asset Management and National Bank of Egypt will be able enjoy a cafeteria lunch, and after work head to a 6,000-square-foot terrace for happy hour or an oyster-shucking party.

At One World Trade Center, which Durst co-owns with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, a large, casual communal space on one floor offers a quick-service cafe with high-end coffee and beverages. The building is home to young, midsize tech companies like Wunderkind and Undertone, which have pumped up their own pantries, sometimes making them the centerpiece of the office.

“What we’re seeing is a merger of the renaissance in food and corporate dining,” said Spencer Cohn, who manages food and beverage for Durst. “The shift is not temporary.” David Neil, a Durst principal, said a number of companies have made their leasing decisions based on a building’s food and beverage offerings.

In less flashy corners of corporate America, companies are struggling to find efficient ways to manage unpredictable lunch crowds and reduce labor costs while still offering dining options. Streamlined menus with QR codes are posted on office walls, and orders are made on apps or at kiosks.

Some businesses have abandoned cafeterias altogether in favor of subsidizing food delivery. An app called Relish by ezCater aggregates a variety of restaurant orders from employees and delivers them all at the same time, in uniform packaging, so everyone can eat together. It uses a network of more than 104,000 restaurants in every state, selected based on their ability to reliably feed large groups.

Stefania Mallett, the chief executive of ezCater, said that companies she never thought would subsidize food for employees have signed up because it’s cheaper than running a cafeteria and satisfies younger workers, for whom food is becoming a requirement rather than a perk.

The New York ticket company SeatGeek uses the service regularly, she said. On days it offers subsidized lunch through the Relish app, five times as many employees come to the office. “It’s much cheaper to give you a sandwich than replace a worker,” she said. Still, there are some parts of the country where the old-school corporate dining room endures. The cafeteria at Hallmark headquarters in Kansas City, Mo., is one of them.

In 1956, Mr. Hall opened the Crown Room, with an army of cooks, a terrific view and 36 chandeliers shaped like the company logo. “Greeting cards represent thoughtfulness, and it’s fitting that those who create them should be working in the best conditions we could provide,” he said at the time.

The Crown Room was always the heart of the company, with cakes for employee birthdays, World Series parties and gift-wrapping demonstrations. People heading home for the day could pick up a potpie or some meatloaf for the family on their way out the door.

During the height of the pandemic, when headquarters was closed, the kitchen still turned out packaged sandwiches and salads to feed people in the manufacturing plants. The dining room reopened in April. “Hallmarkers were thrilled to have the Crown Room back open,” said Paul Herdtner, a company spokesman who is particularly fond of the cafeteria’s Texas sheet cake.

It’s a piece of Hallmark corporate culture no one wants to change, but reality is reality. These days, the cafeteria line is open only three days a week.

Kim Severson

Source: How the Corporate Cafeteria Is Changing – The New York Times

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More Than 40% Of Companies Say Workers Have Asked For Higher Pay To Offset Inflation. Few Have Revised Salary Budgets

Inflation may be hitting new 40-year highs, but less than a quarter of U.S. organizations say they are revising their salary budgets due to inflation—despite many workers asking for raises or other actions to cope with higher prices, according to a new survey.

Mercer, the human resources consulting firm, surveyed more than 300 U.S. employers in March and found that 45% do not factor inflation into salary budgets. Less than 25% say they are making changes to their salary budgets because of inflation—yet 42% say workers have been asking them to take financial actions to help with rising costs.

Still, the survey found that nearly half of organizations say they will conduct additional salary reviews for either some or all of their employees as a response, a sign some may be growing concerned about losing workers if they don’t take action. A full 77% said dissatisfaction with pay or an offer of higher wages at another firm were the top reason they were seeing turnover among their ranks.

“Organizations are being cautious about setting a practice of paying primarily based on cost of living, as opposed to cost of labor,” Tauseef Rahman, a partner at Mercer, said in an email about the new survey data. He was referring to the way many employers make decisions about compensation, determining what people with certain job titles in specific regions are typically paid.

He’s not surprised by the disconnect between what employees are requesting and what employers have done so far in response. As Rahman says, “the concern is that organizations can create the expectation that pay is entirely based on cost of living, and not based on the cost of labor which has more to do with availability and demand of talent.” One challenge, he says, is that employers “might not have been clear with candidates and employees as to … [how] pay was being set.”

At the same time, Mercer’s survey also finds that 50% of organizations say they’re paying more than market rate due to the challenges they face finding and keeping employees, and 41% say they are implementing some kind of retention bonus.

Meanwhile, 60% of respondents reported seeing an increase in the number of counter-offers candidates are receiving, and about 30% say they are beating or matching counter-offers.

Josh Bersin, a human resources industry analyst, says he’s hearing from companies that inflation is having an impact. “Everyone I talk to is going through this re-evaluation, saying ‘you know what, we’ve got to add more money. We’ve got to reset salaries more often to adjust,’” he says.

“There’s a saturation point—you can’t compete based entirely on wages,” Bersin says. “But we’re at the point right now [of people saying] ‘I will not work for you unless you can pay me more money.’ So there’s this stair-stepping process going on, [where] everybody’s raising their wages a tiny bit at a time.”

“There’s this stair-stepping process going on, [where] everybody’s raising their wages a tiny bit at a time.”

—Josh Bersin, human resources industry analyst

Bersin thinks the Department of Labor’s data may be a little behind what’s happening within employers’ payrolls. Consumer prices rose 7.9% in the 12 months that ended in February, according to data the Labor Department released last week. At the end of the fourth quarter of 2021, the U.S. employment cost index showed that compensation costs for civilian workers increased 1% for the three-month period ending in December 2021, with wages and salaries increasing 4.5% last year.

While that is a two-decade high, Bersin thinks “wages are probably going up faster than the federal government realizes,” he says. One human resources executive he spoke with recently told him “we’ll issue a job offer on Monday, they’ll accept the job on Thursday … [and] they don’t show up. Over the weekend they got a job for 50 cents more an hour. It’s just that fast.”

Some companies are finding other ways to provide more compensation to people. For instance, Jonathan Johnson, Overstock.com’s CEO, says his company issued stock to a broader group of employees. The company’s research shows it is above the national average on pay in the markets where they compete for talent, Johnson says.

“You can’t spend your equity at the gas station, but it can help you create wealth and it maybe helps you save,” he says. The company also did not increase what employees pay for medical and dental benefit premiums this year.

Rahman says that where companies are offering raises due to inflation, they tend to be “targeted adjustments” that are based on things such as the competitiveness of pay, an individual’s performance, or business needs. Just “like inflation is complex and not a single number for everyone, pay adjustments are similarly complex.”

I am a Senior Editor at Forbes, leading our coverage of the workplace, careers and leadership issues. Before joining Forbes, I wrote for the Washington Post for more than a decade…

Source: More Than 40% Of Companies Say Workers Have Asked For Higher Pay To Offset Inflation. Few Have Revised Salary Budgets.

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Critics:

By Stephen Miller, CEBS

Employee demands are driving changes in compensation strategy as employers respond to labor shortages and surging inflation, new research shows. Pay data and software firm Payscale’s 2022 Compensation Best Practices Report reveals that 85 percent of organizations are concerned about rising inflation eroding the value of pay increases.

The survey gathered responses from management-level decision-makers at 5,578 organizations, mostly based in North America, from November 2021 to January 2022.

In January 2022, inflation was 7.5 percent higher compared to a year earlier—a 40-year high. The unprecedented jump in inflation rates has 85 percent of organizations worried that planned 2022 pay increases won’t be enough. At the same time, 76 percent of organizations faced labor shortages or difficulty attracting talent in 2021, and 49 percent said that voluntary turnover had increased compared to previous years.

The survey also highlights which benefits have become more common, such as:

  • A 25 percent increase for remote-work options (now being offered by 65 percent of surveyed employers).
  • An 8.3 percent increase in work-from-home stipends (offered by 15 percent).
  • A 7.7 percent increase for flex-time options (offered by 37 percent).
  • A 7 percent increase in mental health or total wellness programs (offered by 66 percent).

In addition, 40 percent of organizations said they were interested in location-based pay strategies with geographic differentials to determine pay for widely distributed workforces.

More contents:

Wages and Salaries Up 5% for Private Industry Workers in 2021, Less than Inflation

Revised 2022 Salary Increase Budgets Head Toward 4%

Turbulence Ahead: Will 2022 Break Compensation Budgets?

Surging Gas Prices Take a Bigger Bite out of Workers’ Wages

DOL Issues Guidance on Prohibited Retaliation Under FLSA and FMLA

Gender Pay Gap Improvement Slowed During the Pandemic

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Does AI Have The Answer To The Customer Experience Riddle?

The telecommunications industry is so many enterprises wrapped into one—they have to get every aspect of customer experience right. It’s a challenge every organization can learn from.

Everywhere you look, there’s another business attempting to harness data, analytics, and artificial intelligence to help them increase sales and crack the code to provide higher-quality, lower-cost goods and services.

Travel and hospitality companies want to make persuasive, personalized offers at just the right moment to drive bookings. Retailers are honing inventory management to better anticipate customer demand and drive same-store sales—while navigating the current supply chain challenges. Hospitals, health insurers, and even governments utilize AI to comb through vast data sets to develop predictive models of disease.

Financial institutions have accelerated credit and risk underwriting decisions using AI/ML models; they’ve also enhanced customer satisfaction online and on the phone with AI-driven virtual assistants. Manufacturers are employing AI to improve process efficiency, enable predictive maintenance, and scale quality control efforts in their core operations. And everyone is trying to reduce customer churn.

When you stop and think about it, the telecommunications industry and its myriad communications service providers (CSPs) do all of this—advertising, supply chain, online and physical stores, operations and maintenance, customer care—and more, for both consumers and businesses. Thus, CSPs offer a unique lens through which to examine how companies in any industry can utilize AI to convert data to insights and information to actions.

The pressure on CSPs to take action, to do more with less, has never been greater.

Growing demands on the network, growing demands for the network

CSPs are in an unusual position: As global demand for data has grown 256% between 2016 and 2020, intense competition has meant that revenues grew less than 13% over the same period. Operators have so far relied upon technical advances and gaining scale efficiencies through consolidation to manage the gap, but one of the greatest untapped opportunities remaining is to become dramatically better providers of customer service.

While the concept of “AI-driven customer service” may seem like an oxymoron—after all, what do algorithms really know about serving people better?—the answer now turns out to literally be more than you could ever know.

The decline of third-party cookies has many operators renewing their focus on collecting and acting upon their own first-party data across the customer lifecycle.

In an evolving industry like telecommunications, the race for customer acquisition and retention is paramount. This is driving heightened operator focus on better advertising performance and retail sales—whether in their own stores, their retailer partners, or various digital channels. AI can help here with informing target audience creation, creative optimization, and inventory forecasts.

Related: Google and Automation Anywhere reimagine customer experience by giving virtual agents a boost

The decline of third-party cookies has many operators renewing their focus on collecting and acting upon their own first-party data across the customer lifecycle. Here, too, AI models can help CSPs identify and act upon signals, such as usage patterns or customer care calls. This type of customer context, an often overlooked signal, can be especially valuable when it comes to identifying “at risk”’ customers for retention efforts.

Contact centers supporting upwards of 100 million subscribers are an expensive endeavor. Several top global operators have turned to conversational AI to decrease agent volumes and document AI tools to shorten call handle times. Some companies report Google’s conversational AI can cut the number of customer inquiries that need a human agent by half.  Besides helping reduce costs and maintain margins for the operator, many customers also appreciate the efficiency and control of self-service.

Furthermore, while CSPs may not have a “factory” in the traditional sense, their network operations are far-flung and national, even global, in scale. They must operate at the industry standard of “five 9’s” (i.e., 99.999%) reliability for emergency communications and simultaneously deliver massive amounts of bandwidth to meet the public’s insatiable demand for communications and data.

And if it seems like a lot now, just consider the 23% annual bandwidth growth the industry will undergo with the rise of 5G and all the IoT, VR, and Web3 experiences that come with it. Keeping up, and keeping customers happy, will take new levels of network automation and predictive maintenance that only AI can provide.

Related: Deploying and operating cloud-based 5G networks

TELUS, a world-leading communications technology company based in Canada, is already leveraging conversational AI through Google Cloud’s CCAI Insights to better serve its roster of global clients and their customers.

Read more:

Most Important Artificial Intelligence Skill: A Sense of Imagination

The Rise of Artificial Intelligence in Business and Society

How Artificial Intelligence Powered Customer Service Will Help Customer Support Agents

Artificial Empathy: Call Center Employees Are Using Voice Analytics to Predict How You Feel

“As a company that supports our customers through many channels, we are able to provide a streamlined experience that transitions from digital support to live agent support,” Phil Schultz, vice-president of customer experience, told us in an interview. “With this new experience, we are able to provide a simple, consistent, intuitive, and friendly experience for simpler tasks, with our agents being able to focus on supporting our customers’ more complex issues. CCAI and Data Insight help TELUS ensure our customers get the support they need, when they need it.”

Realizing the value of AI for customer experience

Of course all of these grand data aspirations are easy to articulate but hard to implement—at Google Cloud, we know these challenges first hand. It’s why we empathize with the added challenges CSPs face from their legacy systems, and from the network complexity that has arisen over generations of technology and industry consolidation. It’s also why we’re excited to be partnering with top CSPs to solve these challenges.

Through our experiences in these partnerships, Google Cloud has identified four key success factors for driving business value from AI applied across the customer experience:

  1. Clear Focus. Success starts with a clear and shared understanding of what CSPs are solving for and the business value of doing so. This clarity will drive every activity to follow, with the business value serving as an important motivator to plow through challenges.
  2. No Silos. Nearly all enterprises struggle with how to break down data silos. Successful companies have a proactive strategy for data integration, data management, and analytics platforms to address the current as well as future needs.
  3. Data-driven. Choosing which part of the problem to tackle first and how to do so is a major determinant of value. Leading companies rely on data to help inform their approach to everything from deciding which use cases to tackle first, to developing and optimizing AI-driven virtual assistants.
  4. Shared risk & reward. We have found that success takes a partnership in which incentives are aligned, with partners having skin in the game.

In Google Cloud’s new report, “Using AI to win the customer experience battle in telecommunications,” we delve into these dimensions, using CSPs as a vehicle, and examine new and innovative ways to apply AI, and best practices for building an AI program focused on delivering value, not just promises.

For TELUS, the investment of time and planning required to execute on AI was apparent from the start. “Through our 10-year partnership with Google, TELUS is able to dive into all the phases of our customers’ journey ensuring it is easy for them to get the support they need,” Schultz said. “This allows our customers to more easily service themselves online, and our world class agents to have all of the information they need to provide quicker and easier support to our customers.”

AI solutions offer the exciting potential to transform the customer experience and bend the value curve for enterprises. Realizing this value requires thoughtful preparation, technology excellence, iterative progress, and a committed, aligned partnership. No company—whether an operator, cloud provider, or solution provider—can afford to let the sizable program investment become just another hype-cycle science experiment that fails to deliver business results.

Sean Allbee, Senior Principal, Customer Value and Transformation Advisory, Google Cloud

Sean works with telecommunications and media companies

Amol Phadke joined Google Cloud in June 2020 as managing director: global telecom industry solutions. He is responsible for working with the product and

Source: Does AI Have The Answer To The Customer Experience Riddle?

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Related Posts

 Seven Predictions To Help Insurers Thrive In 2022

As 2021 thankfully recedes from view, 2022 will present insurers with a host of profound changes that we believe will significantly alter the carrier landscape this year and beyond. These changes will be driven by serious pandemic-related challenges, climate change threats, continuing margin pressures and unrelenting incursions from industry outsiders.

Gleaned from conversations with clients, prospects and partners, here’s what insurers need to look out for and respond to in the coming year:

1. Corporate board-level activism will drive strategic planning and operating model change. 

Insurer C-suites have generally had broad latitude in setting their corporate strategies. Now, though, factors that were once an afterthought — climate change, the circular economy, social equity, the connected world — are now front and center.

Under pressure from their boards, most insurers now include environmental, social and governance (ESG) components in their strategic plans and portfolio strategies. Pressure will intensify in 2022, which will impact investment returns, employee hiring and retention, ecosystems and partnerships, and the ability to expand into new geographies.

Recently, the technology head at a large P&C insurer with whom we work began assessing a comprehensive data platform to gain a better understanding of the company’s carbon footprint, climate-related risks, third-party supplier risks and sustainability goals. Companies that respond thoughtfully to ESG concerns will gain significant competitive advantage, including increased customer loyalty, better brand reputation and greater compliance, over those that do not.

2. Heightened M&A activity and private equity infusion will alter the insurance pecking order. 

Armed with trillions of dollars, private equity (PE) firms are snapping up insurance books of business; meanwhile, PE and venture capital (VC) firms are lavishing insurtechs with investment dollars. Concurrently, insurance companies are actively incorporating digital capabilities from insurtechs and startups.

With more acquisitions announced every quarter since the pandemic began (PE insurance sector investments hit $19.28 billion through August 2021, according to S&P Global), we continue to see a shift in the makeup of the insurer landscape. Recent examples include Blackstone acquiring Allstate’s Life insurance business, Apollo’s merger with Athene holdings and Carlyle’s investments in Vantage Risk.

It’s easy to imagine capital, underwriting expertise and customer experience capabilities from non-traditional sources applied to underwrite new risks across industries. This year may be the industry inflection point for unleashing a significant challenge to the mega-insurer establishment.

3. New business domains will further blur the lines between insurance and other industries. 

The pandemic spurred insurers to rethink their core capabilities and increase their relevance by divesting non-core businesses or splitting conglomerates into new entities to create more shareholder value. Recently, AIG split off its life and retirement segment into a standalone entity via an IPO to simplify its business structure, while Principal Financial exited the retail market, placing $25 billion in reserves.

With the ever-increasing need to align business models with how customers engage with products and services, we expect to see new business domains emerge that overlap with and integrate services from several traditional industries. MIT’s analysis of the home domain shows this happening among participants from insurance, financial services, consumer goods and other industries.

For example, Tesla already offers embedded insurance based on driving data, and Amazon recently launched product liability insurance for its sellers through its Insurance Accelerator.

We’re also continuing to see the employer/employee as a new domain around which insurers can build customer-centric business models that include ecosystem partners and attract the attention of PE money to forge unlikely partnerships. 2022 may be the year when this phenomenon gives rise to more embedded insurance products.

4. Employee wellness will continue spurring innovation and development of new group products. 

Wellness products are all the rage, and for good reason. Amid the seemingly endless pandemic, anything that promotes physical, emotional and financial health is a win for all involved.

By proactively engaging with employees to improve their overall wellness and emotional health, insurers can decrease risk for many insurance products, while employers benefit from having more productive and engaged staff. Look for more consumers to seek voluntary wellness options in their insurance products in 2022 — particularly those sold in a direct-to-consumer (D2C) mode via a digital-first model.

Employers will increasingly offer remote benefit programs like fitness classes, telehealth, financial literacy, mindfulness coaching and caregiver help. Such products are a low-cost way to boost employee retention and create a better employee experience.

5. More insurers will experiment with low-/no-code solutions. 

2021 was the year low-/no-code platforms gained notoriety, offering more power to non-technical people to automate processes, develop new applications and build new customer experiences. Although the jury is still out on the promise of these platforms, core insurance systems and enterprise software providers don’t want to be left behind.

Microsoft and ServiceNow are good examples of enterprise platforms that offer low-/no-code capabilities to orchestrate processes. Insurance systems like Vitech, Guidewire, EIS and Duck Creek now offer design tools to create scripts that deliver new functionality faster. Insurance carriers are working to modernize their IT operating models, talent and partner ecosystems to make the best use of low-/no-code technologies offered by software vendors to expedite solution delivery.

6. Digital purchasing experience comes of age. 

The decades-long crawl toward increasingly complex online sales capabilities has now shifted into high gear in the insurance space, with the explosion of third-party data, embedded insurance products (see #3) and more precise systems of engagement. No matter what domain they’re purchasing from, consumers expect online purchases to be convenient, speedy and wrapped into a full-service experience.

Insurers are adapting their processes and unique data assets to meet the challenge. Most insurers are placing “digital-first” bets to create seamless purchase experiences, increase loyalty and engagement, and drive behaviors that improve risk profiles.

Working with a digitally-born business, a large supplemental carrier with whom we work is seeking to offer a one-stop-shopping consumer experience by integrating its new product, distribution and servicing capabilities and expanding its base products with complimentary coverage for richer cross-selling opportunities. It’s also introducing white- and co-labeling of products with partner companies’ distribution channels.

Another specialty insurer that we serve is partnering with marketing and tech organizations to create a roadmap for content management, customer relationship management and marketing automation ecosystems through the lens of experience enablement for new D2C audiences and internal (broker and carrier) stakeholders.

While indirect sales channels won’t go away, insurers and intermediaries must improvise and adapt to the digital environment and create unique products and solutions that predict and address customers’ needs. The emergence of better tools (think AI and analytics, for example) will help. But a commercial FOMO (“fear of missing out”) brings real urgency to this shift.

7. Greater use of AI will result in changes to permissible data and a heightened role for regulating authorities. 

Reliance on traditional credit and demographic data is increasingly under scrutiny by regulators, resulting in wholesale changes and limitations on how policies are priced, purchased and serviced. New data sources, as well as AI- and machine learning-driven analytics will increasingly be used to address the vacuum created across product development, distribution, underwriting, pricing, servicing and claims. Such variables will draw more scrutiny from regulators.

Insurers will encounter protracted regulatory reviews based on their use of new data sources (GPS data, health and safety data, consumer demographics, etc.) and AI-driven predictive models and analytics. The need to test models for the irresponsible use of advanced AI technologies could complicate future regulatory filings and rate changes.

Furthermore, regulators may require insurers to publish publicly available model bias impact statements to establish transparency. To differentiate themselves, leading insurers will invest in establishing a foundation for dealing with third-party data, new rating systems and analytical capabilities while also creating streamlined filing processes. Carriers that drop bias-creating variables in favor of those that truly impact risk will minimally benefit from better underwriting results. As ESG and disclosure requirements evolve, compliant carriers will gain a distinct competitive edge.

Creating tomorrow’s advantage, today

Insurers’ success in 2022 will pivot around how well they predict customer needs, navigate uncertainty and deliver value — concurrently. Winning carriers will be those that are agile, build skills and capabilities that increase their relevance, accelerate collaboration with ecosystem partners and emphasize data-driven products.

By doing so, insurers can step boldly into the future, well-equipped to anticipate change and deliver seamless customer experiences.

Mahesh Natarajan is Head of Strategy, Insurance Solutions Group and Ventures, at Cognizant. A 20-year veteran at Cognizant, he is an experienced business leader with a demonstrated history of enabling client success, scaling businesses and simplifying complex problems. Mahesh has proven experience advising clients on strategic business initiatives such as digital transformation, operational excellence, managed technology services, organizational change management, Lean ADM and technology transformation. He is passionate about continuous learning, empowering teams and STEM education. Mahesh has a Bachelor of Computer Science and engineering from University of Madras. He can be reached at Mahesh.Natarajan2@cognizant.com.

Source: Cognizant BrandVoice: Seven Predictions To Help Insurers Thrive In 2022

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“Encarta: Health Insurance”. Archived from the original on 17 July 2009.

The Cabinet Papers 1915-1982: National Health Insurance Act 1911. The National Archives, 2013. Retrieved 30 June 2013.

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Credit-Based Insurance Scores: Impacts on Consumers of Automobile Insurance

Experts Slam Apple’s Child Protection Phone-Scanning Technology

A group of leading cybersecurity experts has spoken out against Apple’s plan to detect child sexual abuse images on iPhones, claiming it amounts to mass surveillance and should be banned.

Earlier this year, Apple announced plans to introduce client side scanning, searching individual devices’ iCloud photo libraries for child sexual abuse material (CSAM). Images would be scanned using a technology called NeuralHash and then compared with known CSAM material, before being reported to the authorities.

The plans were delayed last month, with Apple stating that feedback from customers, advocacy groups, researchers and others was prompting it to look for improvements.

Now, though, there’s more feedback, and from sources that it’s hard to downplay. In a paper titled Bugs in our Pockets: The Risks of Client-Side Scanning, security and cryptograhy experts Hal Abelson, Ross Anderson, Steven M. Bellovin, Josh Benaloh, Matt Blaze, Jon Callas, Whitfield Diffie, Susan Landau, Peter G. Neumann, Ronald L. Rivest, Jeffrey I. Schiller, Bruce Schneier, Vanessa Teague, and Carmela Troncoso claim the technology goes much too far.

“In this report, we argue that CSS neither guarantees efficacious crime prevention nor prevents surveillance,” they write.

“Indeed, the effect is the opposite. CSS by its nature creates serious security and privacy risks for all society while the assistance it can provide for law enforcement is at best problematic. There are multiple ways in which client-side scanning can fail, can be evaded, and can be abused.”

The main fear is the risk of abuse by repressive governments. While Apple says that only CSAM and terrorist material would be flagged, the researchers aren’t so sure.

“If device vendors are compelled to install remote surveillance, the demands will start to roll in. Who could possibly be so cold-hearted as to argue against the system being extended to search for missing children?” writes Ross Anderson, professor of security engineering at the University of Cambridge.

“Then President Xi will want to know who has photos of the Dalai Lama, or of men standing in front of tanks; and copyright lawyers will get court orders blocking whatever they claim infringes their clients’ rights.”

With the EU believed to be considering device scanning as a part of a new law on child protection, the researchers say that it should be a national-security priority to ‘resist attempts to spy on and influence law-abiding citizens’.

And, they point out, the Data Retention Directive has already been struck down on the grounds that such bulk surveillance, without warrant or suspicion, was an unacceptable infringement of privacy, even in the fight against terrorism. Client-side scanning is equally problematic, the researchers say.

“Instead of having targeted capabilities such as to wiretap communications with a warrant and to perform forensics on seized devices, the agencies’ direction of travel is the bulk scanning of everyone’s private data, all the time, without warrant or suspicion,” they write.

“That crosses a red line. Is it prudent to deploy extremely powerful surveillance technology that could easily be extended to undermine basic freedoms?”

I’ve been writing about technology for most of my adult life, focusing mainly on legal and regulatory issues. I write for a wide range of publications: credits include the Times, Daily Telegraph and Financial Times newspapers, as well as BBC radio and numerous technology titles. Here, I’ll be covering the ways content is controlled on the internet, from censorship to online piracy and copyright. You can follow my posts by clicking the ‘ Follow’ button under my name.

Source: Experts Slam Apple’s Child Protection Phone-Scanning Technology

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