The return of investment market volatility could make 2019 a year when what life and annuity issuers really want out of information technology is stability.

When the environment is calm, insurers may dream of fancy tech worlds of tomorrow.

When the ground is rolling like waves on the ocean, insurers may cling to any tech systems that can help them stay upright as banks, securities brokers, asset managers, and poorly anchored insurers blow past.

(Related: Mnuchin Bid to Calm Markets Risks Making Bad Situation Worse)

Here are five questions that could hang over our insurtech coverage in the coming year.

1. What kinds of systems can help a life and annuity issuer do a better job of keeping tabs on exactly what its financial position is right this second?

For a life insurer operating in volatile times, the very top priority may suddenly be having the best possible accounting systems.

2. How well does that system handle international businesses, and how well can it handle the uncertainty about whether the United Kingdom will end up leaving the European Union this spring?

Big, multinational life insurers will also need systems that accommodate the possibility that the fate of Scotland and the fate of Ireland could be different from the fate of England.

3. What does that organization’s website look like on a mobile device?

In the past, life and annuity website redesigns often seemed like optional activities.

This year, website redesign projects could be key to survival for agencies, and smaller life insurers, that get a significant percentage of their business through their websites.

Smart Harbor, an Internet marketing service in Columbus, Ohio, has pointed out in its 2019 insurance agency trends forecast that Google adopted a “mobile-first” website indexing strategy in March 2018,

That means that, when the Google system decides which sites to show where, and when, the system will focus mainly on the mobile version of the content.

“Although desktops historically led the way for consumers to research and find products and services that met their needs, it is more critical than ever that agents have mobile responsive sites, in order to not only grow but also maintain the highly coveted search engine real estate that they have worked for years to establish,” Smart Harbor says.

4. Can that agency’s contact center text?

Many consumers use their mobile phones more to surf the web and text than to make traditional telephone calls. and that could also make a subtle, but important, change in how the world of insurance works.

“Texting is a critical line of communication with Millennials,” Smart Harbor says.

Texting “will be the preferred method of contact for the next generation of insurance customers,” Smart Harbor predicts.

5. How’s data security going?

Analysts at Deloitte note in their firm’s 2019 outlook that cybersecurity problems are getting serious enough to slow insurers’ efforts to move functions onto “the cloud.”

“Cybersecurity seems to be an area of concern for many with cloud, because core systems and critical data are essentially being moved off-site to a third party,” the analysts write. “Insurers should keep in mind that while it may be true that providers are accountable for the security of their cloud’s hardware and software, applying security policies to cloud functions ultimately remains an insurer’s responsibility.”

— Read LIMRA Aims to Surf the Tech Wave, on ThinkAdvisor.

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