Green Revolution: Why You Should Go Paperless

Go Paperless and join the Green Revolution

Paper may seem harmless, but in reality, it causes severe environmental damage and has far reaching effects. It has become more important than ever for businesses to go paperless.
The pulp and paper industry is the third largest industrial polluter to air, water, and land. With this in mind, Canada and the United States are the world’s largest producers of paper and pulp products.
If we don’t smarten up soon our window of opportunity may quickly shut.

What’s the Damage?

Source Process

Right from the start, the paper and pulp industry causes severe damage to the environment, including our air, water, and soil.  As you probably know, the paper comes from trees— in fact, 35% of all harvested trees, and 40% of all industrial wood is used for paper manufacturing. The United States alone cuts down more than 68 million trees each year, just for the production of pulp and paper products. These numbers are staggering when you consider the immense importance trees have in regulating our planet’s health. Since trees absorb CO2 and release oxygen, they mitigate the harmful effects of greenhouse gas. Moreover, a single 100-year-old tree can only produce 17 reams of paper, but when it’s cut down it will release 110 lbs of CO2 into the atmosphere. As such, this deforestation directly increases climate change. Not only does the removal of trees speed up the global warming process, but it also makes it more severe. Deforestation accounts for more global carbon emissions than trucks and cars combined. With this in mind, there is a strong link between high levels of atmospheric gas, and increased deaths and respiratory illnesses.
The removal of trees also severely damages the quality of our soil. Through transpiration, trees control the level of water in our atmosphere and directly help regulate the water cycle. When there are fewer trees, there’s less water! Through this, our soils become drier, negatively affecting its ability to sustain life— for both plants, and organisms. Moreover, soil and smaller plants use trees for shade. When they are removed, more UV rays are able to penetrate the ground, further drying out the soil. The removal of trees also increases surface runoff, which causes soil erosion. As such, our soil can become barren, further harming our environment.
Deforestation also threatens our planet’s biodiversity and contributes to species endangerment. Approximately 80% of the world’s land animals and plants live in forests. The removal of trees also means the destruction of their habitats and the introduction of pesticides into their ecosystem. In fact, upwards of 30 million acres of forest are lost each year. Moreover, trees help regulate a forest’s internal temperature through their canopy. The removal of the canopy fluctuates internal temperatures, which is extremely harmful to both plants and animals.
Removing trees also negatively affects neighboring and indigenous communities. More than 1.5 billion people rely on forests for the necessities, such as food, water, clothing, and shelter. Taking away their important resources causes social conflict, and threatens their livelihood.

Manufacture Process

The production of paper in of itself is also extremely harmful to the environment, neighboring communities and even their own employees. Each year, the world manufactures more than 300 million tons of paper, with 1 million tons of paper used each day. Unfortunately, paper mills emit significant levels of pollution. They release upwards of 220 million lbs of toxins each year, which affects our air, water, and soil. A measly 1 ton of paper creates 1.5 tons of carbon dioxide. This pollution has adverse effects on neighboring communities, and nearby ecosystems. They are also the largest industrial consumer of water, as the pulp and paper industry uses more water to produce 1 ton of product than any other industry. To better put this in perspective, 1.5 cups of water are needed to make one single sheet of paper, and approximately 300,000 litres are needed for 1 ton. Moreover, they are the second largest consumer of energy. To produce one ton of paper, 253 gallons of petrol are used. The production of secondary and supporting products are also incredibly harmful. For example, the production of ink relies on fossil fuels and harmful chemicals.
Even their own workers are not spared from the negative effects of paper production, as paper mill employees are subject to poor working conditions. In order to reduce wood pulp and bleach paper, employees are exposed to a toxic cocktail of chemicals. As such, they have an increased risk for dangerous health problems, like malignant lymphomas.
With all this in mind, by 2020 paper mills are expected to produce 500,000,000 tons of paper products annually.

Disposal Process

Let’s be honest, most of us do not recycle every single sheet of paper that we come in contact with— and even if we did, paper cannot be recycled indefinitely. Of the total waste in the United States of America, a staggering 40% is paper products. To hit home a bit more, 45% of paper printed in offices is thrown out by the end of the day. Unsurprisingly, 50% of the waste businesses create is paper. Even the supporting products are wasteful, as 400 million ink and 100 million toner cartridges end up in landfills each year. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, at the end of its destructive life, paper either rots or is burned. The burning of paper emits CO2, while the rotting releases methane gas— a gas that is 25 times more toxic than CO2.
Through its entire lifecycle paper causes significant, and sometimes irreparable, damage.  

Want to Help? Go Paperless

Benefits

The only way to protect the environment from paper waste is to go paperless. In a paperless world, each year the average worker can save:

  • 938 gallons of water
  • 2.5 trees
  • 56 gallons of oil
  • 595 KW (kilowatts of energy)
  • 12.15 cubic feet of landfill space

Greenhouse gas emissions would also decrease by 3.9 billion lbs annually— which is equivalent to removing 355,000 cars from the road! These benefits aren’t just environmental. By going paperless, your organization can save a ton of money! In fact, a company with only 8 employees can save $10,000 a year just by ditching paper. You would also save on ink and toner costs, which add up to $3,230 and $5,600 respectively. Even more so, businesses lose 15% of their important documents, which costs around $120 in labour to find, and $220 to finally replace. Your annual cost benefit can be upwards of $20,000!
Want to learn more about how you can go paperless? Check our blogs on 5 ways to create a paperless business or 11 resources to check to a paperless office!

eSignatures

One of the best ways to help is to simply switch to electronic and digital signatures. This simple step really has a huge positive impact, just think of how many times a day you rely on paper documents! Companies, like Signority, help you automate and digitize your document signing process with their electronic signature solutions. This leaves you with a lot less paper, and extra time to do more important things— like save time on costly internal operations and the planet!
We need to reduce, not recycle. The paper industry is out-dated, unnecessary, and extremely harmful. If we don’t change our ways soon and go paperless, we may lose our chance. If you don’t believe me, just click here to see how much paper we have produced this year alone.
Join the revolution go paperless!
Switch to digital, and switch to a more environmentally friendly business…  one small step for the office, one huge step for mankind!
Feel free to share this post with your colleagues and friends, but please try and fight the urge to print it!
Want to help save the planet? Sign-up now and get free access to Signority’s Business Plan.

Digital Strategy: Key Questions Insurance Industry Should Consider Before Going Digital (Part 3)

Digital strategy for going digital

If you’ve been following the series you should have some solid background information on why you should go digital, but how do you leverage this to make a successful digital strategy?
Currently, almost half of insurers have no single cohesive digital strategy— today we’re going to try and change this. But, we’re going to do much more than talk. We’re going to put your knowledge to the test, and help guide you on how to make your own successful digital strategy.
In this third instalment, we’ll gauge your overall digital readiness and answer some key questions that should be considered before you implement your strategy.

Digital Strategy Maturity Model

Before making your digital strategy, you should have a clear understanding of your current position. This will help you make better more informed decisions, and give you a strong grasp on your digital readiness— so you can develop a successful strategy long-term.
EY, a global leader in consulting and advisory services, distinguished 4 key elements you should assess:

  1. Corporate strategy
  2. Customer strategy
  3. Enabling capabilities
  4. Digital roadmap

To grow from a digitally stunted strategy to digitally mature, these four parts need to be aligned, and optimized. Currently, American insurers have a high degree of variance with their overall digital maturity, and with their digital strengths and weaknesses.
Don’t know what I’m talking about? Don’t worry, in our recent post I explained each segment in detail and discussed why they’re crucial for your strategy’s success.
Want to know how digitally mature your company is? Well, we brought this model to life and created an interactive digital readiness scorecard! Check it out and see where you line up. Added bonus: we’ll also throw in some tips and tricks to help push you further along in your digital maturity!

Before Going Digital: What’s Your Plan?

EY also recently asked insurance firms some thought provoking questions:  

  1. Ambition: Where do you want to be on the Digital Maturity Model? Do you have a clear view of what “digital” aims to achieve?
  2. Priorities: Do you know which customers, products, channels and customer trigger points require digital attention- and which do not? What are your competitors doing in this space?

Know Your Digital Strategy Plan

A full digital transformation requires full dedication and determination. Everyone must be onboard and ready to give their all. But before you can get everyone on the same page, you need to outline your long-term objectives and goals.
You should have a clear vision of where on the digital maturity model you want to be long-term. There is a wide range of possibilities, as you can focus on the model as a whole or on individual segments separately. Whatever end goal you choose, it should be closely tied with all your other strategies and support overall business aspirations.
Understanding where you lie on the digital readiness scorecard is crucial. You should not only have a general knowledge of how digitally ready your business is, but you should also be keenly aware of how you perform in each individual element. By knowing where you are and where you want to be, you can better understand what digital aims to achieve in order to reach your end goal.
You should focus your initial attention towards the fundamentals of your business. Look at your current brand equity, competitive position and brand performance. It may also be a good idea to conduct an internal SWOT analysis of your company. Through this, you can better see where you need to improve and set concrete objectives. After this, you can set a definitive digital vision. Outline your strategies to achieve your defined objectives and any dependencies, obstacles or risks that may occur. Additionally, you should create a firm and detailed budget. In doing so, you can divide up all the responsibilities to the needed people, increasing individual accountability. You should communicate your strategy and ambition to your staff, partners and customers to manage expectations and improve employee cohesiveness.

Know Your Priorities

During the transition, things may become pretty hectic. Before this happens, it’s important that you know exactly what objectives to tackle first. The success of your digital transformation almost entirely hinges on your ability to set objectives and follow through. Some objectives to consider include:

  1. Customer

According to EY, the biggest drivers of digital strategies are improving customer experience, building long-term customer relationships and regaining more control over these relationships. In order to do so, you need to have a deep understanding of your customer base. You should clearly outline your intended target audience and understand their needs, behaviours, values and expectations.
You should also have a firm grasp on your customers’ trigger points, as they can show opportunities in your customer’s buying process. You can start by identifying a buyer persona, and deeply know their buying habits and their decision process. Through this, you can understand what motivates them to purchase and create targeted messages and content for that trigger. Even better, you can work to create the trigger yourself. Moreover, these triggers should be ingrained into your overall marketing strategy. The right message should be delivered to the right person, at the right time. This can help insurers accurately predict their sales forecasts, and better help them in attracting new customers.

  1. Product & Service

You can use the power of digital to test the efficiency of any and all of your products and services. Through this, you can better see what’s doing well, and what needs some improvement. This insight will also help you in creating any new products and services, as you know exactly what works and what doesn’t.

  1. Channel

First, you should outline the breadth and depth of your envisioned channels and know how much resources will be needed to keep them updated and maintained. It’s extremely crucial to not over-estimate your resources at this stage, as you do not want to be in a situation where certain channels are neglected, or your overall communication effectiveness is hindered. The specific channels you choose depends on the content you want to share. Each channel has a different atmosphere, purpose and set of social norms. In essence, users connect with every channel differently. For example, LinkedIn may be a more suitable channel to target B2B customers than Facebook. You should evaluate all of your channel options, and select the one most appropriate and fitting towards your intended target audience and overall objectives. In the beginning, you may need to experiment with a couple of different channels until you find the one that works the best for you. Moreover, all of your channels should be integrated with each other. Customers expect to have the same experience with your brand regardless of the channel, so consistency is key.
Along the same lines, you should probably prioritize a mobile strategy. A whopping 65% of purchase journeys start on a smartphone, and by 2020 four out of five people will own a mobile phone. Currently, less than one-third of insurers have a distinct mobile strategy— meaning there is a huge opportunity waiting for you!

Know Your Competition

You should be aware of what your competitors are doing with their digital strategy, and how well it’s being executed. This can work as a baseline for you to gauge industry activity and may uncover some initiatives you should be participating in. Moreover, this can determine areas of opportunity, and points of potential differentiation.

A good digital strategy is one that can adapt to industry changes, and that is aligned with your overall business objectives.
The first step: calculate your digital readiness. Last step? Sit back and watch your business skyrocket.
Miss Part 2? Learn more about why analytics are fundamental to your strategy, and how to optimize their use from our previous post in the series!  
Looking to go digital? Sign-up now and get free access to Signority’s Business Plan.

Startup Life: 5 More SME Industries Ripe for Digital Signatures – Part 2

Startup Life: Digital Signature Solutions for 5 More SME Industries

I’m back with the second instalment of digital signature solutions for SME industries! Once again, I’m ready to prove that eSignatures can enhance any industry.

Without further ado, let’s get started with our top 5 industries:

1. Education

The education sector deals with a lot of paperwork. Schools must keep track of thousands of students and employees. If things aren’t done as efficiently as possible, this can quickly become overwhelming and completely unorganized. Digital signature solutions will make sure things run as smoothly, and efficiently, as possible. They can do so in many ways, such as providing staff with pre-built templates. Instead of creating individual documents for each recipient, staff can save a tremendous amount of time by sending out these pre-built templates. Not only will this help the staff, but it will also enhance student services and a student’s overall experience. Administration can speed up important processes, such as admission, course changes, and student loans. Moreover, the document sender can view real-time updates, and send reminders when necessary.

2. Construction

Digital signature solutions can keep projects on time, unify all parties, and manage important documents in one place. With their ease of use and instant delivery, projects will never be delayed from the unnecessary waiting and back and forth handwritten signatures bring. Moreover, since there are usually several teams involved, this can exacerbate the waiting period and make everything that much more complicated. Using electronic signatures keeps everything in one place, unifies all parties and opens a direct line of communication, through real-time updates. By sending automated reminders, you can ensure all activities stay on track.

3. Customer Service

eSignatures can drastically improve the overall customer experience. Agents can respond faster to customer inquiries, keep customer information current, and eliminate clerical errors. Using electronic signatures streamlines field support, allowing agents to acquire customer signatures faster! On the flip side, customers can sign from anywhere, anytime, and on any device— increasing overall customer value! For both parties, eSignatures makes the entire signing process easier, simpler, quicker and hassle free!

4. Finance

The finance industry is extremely paper heavy. Paperwork must be signed for virtually every transaction. As you may know, paperwork is particularly tedious, mundane and, frankly, a waste of time. eSignatures solve this problem, by bypassing traditional time delays— never miss a deadline again! For example, every document requires meticulous review, which would normally fall under an agent’s responsibility. By using electronic signatures, the software can do it for you! As such, the entire transaction and approval process would be shortened and quickened. With all this newfound free time, agents can focus their work on what really matters, their clients. Moreover, eSignatures are legally binding, and far more secure than handwritten signatures. Digital contracts have stronger transaction security and reduced opportunity for fraud. Additionally, they require signature authentication and provide users with an audit trail.

5. Human Resources  

Human resources can benefit from using electronic signatures in a multitude of ways. Ditch the paperwork, and make signing documents easier for new hires and for internal operations. You can create and reuse templates, and ensure all the required information is correctly filled in. Additionally, you can even cut the time it takes to obtain signatures in half— just imagine, no longer having to chase employees to sign! You can also keep track of all employee contracts and milestones in one safe and secure place. Through this, you can onboard, manage and transition employees smoothly— plus, it’s a great first impression for new hires!
Digital signature solutions are quickly making paper contracts obsolete and for good reason. Stop living in the past, and experience their immense benefits first hand!
Miss Part 1? Click here to learn about more industries that can be enhanced by eSignatures.
Looking to take your business paperless? Sign-up now and get free access to Signority’s Team Plans.

Will InsurTech Be The New Normal?

InsurTech as the new norm

Examining the powerful forces driving massive change within the insurance marketplace

This is an excerpt from our most recent guide “What is Insurtech? And Why The Insurance Industry Should Take Immediate Notice

When compared to other sectors of “big business,” the insurance industry has—at least historically speaking—been left to operate uninterrupted, out of reach from the aggressive startup movement that has radically transformed and reshaped so many other industries.
This simply isn’t the case any longer.
Over the last three years, in particular, startup funding has increased dramatically. In fact, according to a recent PWC report released last year, 90 percent of insurers say that they fear they will lose business to startups as investments in InsurTech has increased five-fold.
To understand why the InsurTech marketplace has seen such explosive growth over the past few years, we need to understand the competitive forces that are most significantly impacting the insurance sector as a whole.
For the purposes of this post, let’s go over the five, key forces we need to understand:

  1. Incumbent carriers are feeling the heat from more nimble, tech-focused startups – Historically flat IT budgets and outdated legacy systems have made it more difficult for large, incumbent organizations to adapt to a new, modern marketplace. More importantly, InsurTech startups have shown the ability to quickly fill gaps in the marketplace, creating entirely new products and service offerings specifically tailored to tech-centric Millennials — the largest living generation of American consumers.
  2. The legislation simply cannot keep pace, leaving startups to quickly fill the gaps – The rise of the peer-to-peer (P2P) sharing economy (think Uber and Airbnb, among others) highlighted an important fact; legislation, as a general rule nowadays, simply cannot keep up with the pace of change. Lawmakers and startups could not be more polar opposites of each other—one group moves begrudgingly slow and the other lightning quick. This divergent movement creates gaps and loopholes (not to mention regulatory nightmares), allowing nimble startups to introduce never-before-seen products and services that often threaten the very existence of larger, more traditional insurers. While usually good for customers, it can spell doom for big business.
  3. Big data continues to confound traditional insurers, empower new entrants – Insurance is a data-driven business, and big data is BIG business. The rapid increase in available software, specifically cloud-based computing, connected devices and telematics, has made data more accessible than ever. Still, most traditional insurance companies, burdened by rigid, antiquated systems, have yet to capitalize. Instead, smaller, more agile, InsurTech startups have stepped in to fill the void. Big data remains one of the most difficult challenges for large, incumbent insurers.
  4. New entrants are joining forces to solve the cyber security puzzle – Cyber crime costs are projected to reach $2 trillion by 2019, which makes cyber security a puzzle that’s obviously worth solving. Yet, as the free flow of data (specifically, Cloud data) becomes more accessible, insurers—not unlike other big businesses—face mounting security challenges. To solve some of these challenges, there are new entrants like Cyence, a startup that provides a first-of-its-kind cyber risk analysis for insurers. According to Cyence, the economic cyber risk modelling platform “helps companies when they’re the target of cyber-attacks.” Many of these companies have joined forces with FinTech (yes, that would be “Financial Tech”) startups who are solving similar challenges.
  5. Traditional insurers, in an effort to close the gap, continue to gobble up talent – Talent tends to follow funding. As a result, there has been an influx of skilled software talent. Traditional insurers, too, have joined the hunt for top-notch tech talent — albeit in a slightly different way. According to Gartner, the global insurance industry (North America, in particular) is investing heavily in insurance technology start-ups. In fact, Gartner reports that 80 percent of life, property and casualty insurers worldwide will “partner with or acquire InsurTechs to secure their competitive positions by the end of 2018.”

That last statistic is worth repeating:
[socialpug_tweet tweet=”80 percent of insurers worldwide will partner or acquire InsurTechs by the end of 2018!” style=”2″]
Download the free guide What is Insurtech? And Why The Insurance Industry Should Take Immediate Notice.  
Needless to say, traditional insurance companies are at a crossroads. And judging by the number above, most have made their decision.
But, who are these InsurTech startups?
Let’s take a look.

InsurTech Startups: the most disruptive, well-funded startups currently reshaping the insurance marketplace

There is an ever-growing laundry list of startups currently taking aim the insurance sector (here are more than 100 of them)—and that doesn’t even count other FinTech startups who are attempting to do the same thing!
Some are taking aim at auto insurance, exclusively.
Not to be outdone, here are eight more hoping to disrupt the life insurance market.
You get the idea.
Yet, there are a handful of startups, in particular, that are making waves early in 2017:

  1. Lemonade: Lemonade offers fast and low-coverage homeowners and renters insurance “powered by technology.” It sells rental insurance policies for as low as $5 and home insurance for as little as $35. The company has raised more than $90 million, including $34 million Series B in late 2016.
  2. Metromile: Metromile offers pay-per-mile car insurance powered by a proprietary device, Metromile Pulse, a free wireless device that plugs into your car. Once the device is installed, it calculates your monthly mileage to determine your bill. The company claims its customers save an average of $500 annually. To date, Metromile has raised more than $200 million in funding!
  3. Trov: Trov calls itself “on-demand insurance for the things you love.” Essentially, Trov lets you purchase low-cost, accidental theft, damage, and loss policies on everyday items—with just a few text messages. That’s right. The entire experience can be handled safely and securely from a smartphone. The Australia-based company has raised more than $46 million to date and plans to launch in the U.S. later this year.
  4. Clover Health: Clover is a full-service insurance company that “implements metrics to figure out the best protocol for a patient who is at risk for health problems. It aggregates reports from a patient’s various medical services to generate a comprehensive profile of the person’s health” (source). Clover is currently available in New Jersey only, though it has plans to expand elsewhere in the near future. And get this—Clover has raised nearly $300 million in funding!

Obviously, this is but a small sampling of the types of startups who are benefitting from an influx As you may already know, of investment dollars (and clearly for good reason). If you want to learn more about insurTech, you can download the full guide for free here: “What is InsurTech? And Why The Insurance Industry Should Take Immediate Notice”.
Sources: http://insights.instech.london/post/102d2yk/24-companies-shaping-instech-globally

Part 2: The Top 5 Most Promising Recent Graduate Jobs and Industries

Top 5 Promising Recent Graduate Jobs and Industries

Hello again! I’m back with some more information on the recent graduate jobs that are exciting and promising, but this time I’ll explain how you can get involved!
So here we are, as promised:

  1. Virtual Reality

Nearly every existing industry can be disrupted and enhanced by virtual reality. To get started, first immerse yourself in the virtual reality world. Follow other entrepreneurs and industry experts, and learn from them! Because of the endless possibilities, you can really tailor your business to your own personal interests and passions, but here are some of the most promising segments:

Hardware & Software Development

There is a huge market for virtual reality hardware and software development since VR sort of relies on it (no biggie right?). In fact, by 2020 the virtual reality hardware and software segment will be a $70 billion market. In the coming months, more people will start developing virtual reality entertainment, and they will need developing tools (can you believe that!?). On the other side, customers ready to get their hands on VR equipment will need to purchase other products to support VR applications, such as powerful graphic cards. Compared with traditional applications and games, VR requires seven times the graphics processing power. With this in mind, as of last year less than 1% of PC’s used globally have the capability to support virtual reality. According to BBC News, even one of the major players in the VR industry, Oculus, recommends users to purchase powerful graphic cards.

Education

The education market is predicted to be impacted the most from virtual reality, and be one of its first successful commercial applications. Virtual reality can be implemented into every aspect and level of learning. For example, students in grade one can use VR to learn more about the animal kingdom. Students can visually see each animal, and even hear the different sounds/calls they make, without ever leaving the safety of their classroom. On the other hand, aspiring veterinary surgeons can use VR as a surgical simulation tool. Additionally, VR headsets have a wide price range, starting as low as $20, making them affordable for lower end schools. Currently, there are only a few companies that are capitalizing on this and making their own applications, meaning there is room in the market for you!

Video Games

The virtual reality video game market is expected to reach over $11.5 billion by 2025. Even though virtual reality is relatively new, the gaming community represents the closest thing to a mass market within the industry. You can ease your way into this market, by starting off small and focusing on virtual reality apps. There are numerous easy to use platforms available for newbies, such as Unity. Unity provides its users with tutorials, tools and an online community. Moreover, revenue from ads within VR apps can range from $0.03 to $0.10 per view. Meaning, you can make up to $50,000 per day on in-app ads this year.

  1. Health & Wellness

The health and wellness industry is all about community, so you should actively get involved! Focus on relationship building, customer engagement, and personal branding. You really want your customers to feel a strong connection with you and your brand. You also want your customers to establish a level of trust with you, so you may want to look into getting relevant certifications. These customers are not interested in a fad diet, and instead are committed to a complete lifestyle change. They are lifetime customers, with huge potential brand loyalty.

Products

The vast majority of revenue from the health and wellness industry comes from product sales. Within the product segment, healthy food products and digital fitness show the most promise. As people are becoming increasingly aware and concerned over their personal health, they want to fuel their body with quality food. The demand for health foods is skyrocketing, as 73% of consumers admit to switching to healthier alternatives, with 77% of consumers believing diet products are not as healthy as advertised. Additionally, digital fitness is now a $330 million market and is experiencing exponential growth. In fact, users are even starting to trust apps more than their doctors! This year, 30% of consumers will have a digital health device and 1.7 billion smartphones and tablets will have a health app installed. Since apps create the possibility for social media integration, users can easily share their achievements to their online platforms and increase your brand awareness and reach!

Blogs

Health and Wellness blogs are the most profitable niche blog market. Through blogs, you can easily create a personal brand and create a strong online presence. Sharing relevant content, and having an open line of communication with your followers, allows you to build meaningful customer relationships, and strong customer engagement. By creating a strong personal brand, and taking advantage of affiliate marketing and ad placements, you can easily make a six-figure salary!

  1. Drones

In order to commercialize drone use, you must first make sure you have the proper qualifications. For example, you may need to get your remote pilot certificate, which is basically just a fancy way of saying you’re legally allowed to fly drones for profit. You also need to be aware of the different rules and regulations, which vary by location. For the aspiring Canadian drone entrepreneurs, click here to figure out what some of those regulations are.

Aerial Inspection

Since drones can fly (duh!), you can use them for aerial inspection—which has the earning potential of $200 an hour. This drone service is scalable, and can be used for big projects (like assessing the CN tower), to smaller projects (like spying on your neighbours). Anyone who needs to view or inspect something that can be potentially dangerous or time-consuming for a worker can cut monetary and time costs by using drones instead. For example, some roofing companies have begun using drones to assess damage, without the need for any workers to put themselves in harm’s way. Learn more about how drones are also being used in the insurance industry.

Public Safety

Unfortunately, there will always be a need for disaster relief and search & rescue. Drones can give relief workers an inside view in areas that are dangerous, and not easily accessible by land. Drones can also be used to deliver necessary supplies, such as medicine, food or water. As explained by UAV Coach, surf lifesavers are currently using drones to help with their search and rescue operations. They equip their drones with rescue packs containing life-saving supplies, and even electromagnetic shark deterrents.

  1. Marijuana

Before you become a successful “potpreneur”, be sure you know all the laws and regulations of your current location, and any location you plan on doing business in. Along the same lines, pay attention to consumer trends. This is a relatively new industry (legally speaking), and customers are feeling their way and constantly changing their preferences. For example, the once popular pot flowers have drastically reduced in demand, with sales falling 54% last year.

Infused Products

The most promising product segments are edibles and topicals. In fact, both product segments have an average profit margin of over 55%. Edibles are the most exciting segment and may rake in half of the $5.4 billion industry. Topicals, on the other hand are an area of untapped promise, as these products are able to appeal to the general public. Since their application does not result in any “high”, those who do not want to be under the influence can still enjoy their many health benefits.

Retail Stores

Retail store sales are expected to hit $21.8 billion in 2020. Canada has proven to be a promising location, as last year 30% of Canadians used pot, compared to only 10% of Americans. In Canada, medical marijuana is legal in all forms—including edibles and topicals. Unsurprisingly, the Canadian domestic market is going to be huge (maybe the leaf on our flag isn’t a maple leaf after all). Considering many medical marijuana patients are unable to travel to store locations, at home delivery service is in demand. A San Francisco-based startup, Eaze, is leading the pack with at home pot delivery. In fact, this startup has already procured over $25 million in funding, which shows the extreme potential and need for pot delivery services. However, Eaze only delivers within the state of California, meaning there is a huge untapped market here in Canada and other places in the US!

  1. FinTech

Before delving into the new world of FinTech, it’s probably a good idea to give yourself a refresher on the finance industry, and the customer base. For example, almost 60% of smartphone users use their phone for online banking, so you should start thinking about mobile optimization. And this may go without saying, but you need to know all relevant rules and regulations.

P2P Lending

Peer to Peer lending has not only disrupted traditional lenders, but also the entire financial services sector. FinTech startups received more than $9 billion in capital during the first three months of last year alone. Toronto-based FinTech startup Lending Loop capitalized on the huge size of the Canadian market and became one of the first P2P lending platforms in Canada. Moreover, P2P lending has proven to be a very stable and lucrative industry. According to Cato Pastoll, Lending Loop CEO, the annual returns hover around 9%. Since P2P lending can be segmented further, you can really focus on any area that interests you (like student loans…).
Don’t forget us little people when you make it big! Well, maybe you can forget Uncle Mike. Get out there and find the perfect recent graduate jobs!
Miss Part 1? Don’t worry! You can read more about the potential of each industry and which jobs for recent graduates are promising for you!
Looking to take your business paperless? Sign-up now and get free access to Signority’s Business Plan.

Digital Analytics: Key Questions Insurance Industry Should Consider Before Going Digital (Part 2)

Digital Analytics - Key Questions and Considerations for the Insurance Industry

If you’ve been following the series, you have a general baseline on how going digital can improve your overall business functions, but how can you gauge how well your investment is operating?
The answer: Digital Analytics!
The success of your digital strategy depends almost entirely on your implementation of meaningful digital analytics. They allow you to gauge your success and shortcomings, so you can allocate effort and resources where they’re needed.
Why hinge your organization’s success on assumptions, when you can base your decisions off of facts?
This second series will discuss the various stages of digital analytics implementation, as well as key questions that should be considered to optimize their use.

Stages of Implementing Digital Analytics

Understanding and getting ahead in analytics does not solely mean focussing on your website analytics. Although, you should definitely pay attention to your Google Analytics and optimise for increasing conversion.
In order to go fully digital, using analytics effectively means making the call to gather data from your entire range of channels, including website conversions, social media, online advertising, contract turnaround times, and contact data.

Stage 1: The Basics

When you begin implementing digital analytics, you should first focus on building a strong foundation analytics. Start by mapping out your operations process, from lead to customer. Break apart the process by identifying crucial touchpoints, for example, those touchpoints could be when a lead enters your sales funnel (Lead) and when the lead converts to a paying customer (Customer). From here you’ll have to start measuring the time taken for the actual conversion and assign it to the corresponding touchpoint.
Keeping track of these touchpoints and analysing the data regularly allows you to understand your operational flow and identify sectors or departments that require optimisation.

Stage 2: Lay the Groundwork

Once you have identified key touchpoints, now it’s time to begin tagging all of your pages, to obtain baseline information on how your users interact with each page. For example, you can see which of your pages are the most popular. Tools like Google Analytics and Mix Panel can help during the tagging process, by checking and alerting you about broken tags- so you never unintentionally neglect data! Keep in mind, solely using web analytics is not enough. The majority of the data you receive is descriptive and does not give you any actionable or meaningful insight. The ultimate goal is to build your web analytic strategy into a fully digital strategy. In doing so, the data you collect will be more useful, more in-depth, and can better guide your decision making. Instead of just knowing which pages are popular, you will be able to understand why. And, in turn, how to improve the pages that are not!
The most successful insurance businesses are fully aware that information is the lifeblood of the industry. Knowing when and how long a lead turns into a customer is absolutely crucial to understand bottlenecks in your sales process. You can start this process by moving from paper to a digital signature solution. This allows you to see the time it takes for a contract to be signed (I.e. Lead to Customer) in real time, streamline the process for your customer, and also give you an overarching look into your sales funnel.
Read how you can go paperless here.

Stage 3: Analytics Pro

Congratulations, you’ve almost made it to the finish line! It’s time to integrate multi-channel and multi-touch digital analytics across all your business platforms. In order for you to completely personalize and optimize your customer interactions, it is imperative that you fully understand their buying patterns/behaviours and preferences. As such, there should be a strong emphasis on customer and user analytics. Moreover, digital analytics provide predictive data. Meaning, you can better understand and foresee new customer trends, behaviours, and anticipate future outcomes, optimizing your efforts. IBM‘s Digital Analytics provide advanced analytics by tracking visitor behaviour over time, and across multiple touchpoints and channels. This tool can also compare your success with competitors, and give recommendations when warranted.

Before Going Digital: What’s Your Plan?

EY, a global leader in tax and advisory services, recently asked insurance firms some thought provoking questions:  

  1. Are you rolling out analytics in tandem with digital?
  2. Do you have the right capabilities in place- — a strong analytics team & supporting tools?
  3. Are you capturing, storing and using current customer data to maximum value?

Before implementing digital analytics, you should have a general idea of how to approach each question. Since there’s no better time than the present, let’s get started:

Measure Your ROI With Digital Analytics

By 2019, global investments for digital transformations will amount to $2.1 trillion– with 70% of these initiatives predicted to fail! With this in mind, less than 15% of companies can quantify their digital initiatives ROI with traditional methods. It is more imperative than ever to start using digital analytics to gauge your investments ROI. You can see where you’re making money, cutting costs or, brace yourself… where you’re losing money. In essence, you can clearly see what’s working, and what isn’t, and how well your investment is paying off. As such, you can make improvements where necessary, and hold relevant people accountable. Some analytics you may want to track include: conversion rates, customer satisfaction, reduction in time costs, percent of revenue coming directly from digital channels, and percent of revenue enabled from digital channels.

Build Strong Digital Analytic Teams & Supporting Tools

You’re only as strong as your weakest link, so don’t limit your strategy’s potential with poor teams or supporting tools.

People

The entire organization must be on board and supportive of the digital shift. Your organization’s culture must transform toward a digital-centric and customer-focused model. Aside from the obvious need for technical skills, the analytics team must have a deep understanding of your organizational goals, and of customer wants and needs. Only then can they properly leverage and interpret the data in a way that’s meaningful towards future success. Moreover, they may be the only employees who realize potential opportunities and weaknesses. In order for them to relay the results in a clear and effective way, they must have strong communication skills.

Tools

There are various tools you can use to support your overall analytical process. First off, Foresee can help you make needed improvements and revisions, by interpreting your analytics results. Matplotlib can help with data visualization, which would otherwise be time-consuming and tedious to create. Smart panda labs can help your team maximize its use of Optimizely. Smart Panda Labs help implement, personalize, troubleshoot, analyze results, and even provide recommendations accordingly.

Maximize Value by Using Quality Customer Data

Your results are only as good as your data. Currently, insurers are not taking advantage of the full potential of digital support. In fact, insurers rate themselves less than 2 out of 5, for overall customer experience. They are failing to communicate with customers during critical points in their buying process, and, consequently, missing out on huge opportunities. By using quality customer data, insurers can better understand their customers and properly communicate during all steps of the buying process. Accurate customer data allows you to better target your customers, decreasing costs and increasing conversion rates. Moreover, capturing, storing and utilizing current customer data gives deeper insights into the buying habits of your customers, giving you more accurate predictions of future behaviour. Unsurprisingly, according to McKinsey & Company, companies that effectively use customer analytics are more likely to outperform their competitors on key performance metrics, including profit, sales, sales growth, and ROI! In fact, with the use of customer analytics, profit and ROI almost double.
All in all, digital analytics are essential to fully maximize your digital transformation. They give you an in-depth understanding of what’s working, what’s not, and how to improve. Why do it the hard way when you don’t have to?
Like the saying goes, “assumption is the mother of all mistakes”.

Miss Part 1? Don’t worry, you can read more about how going digital can save you time, money and effort all while improving your customer’s experience from our previous post in the series!
Looking to go digital? Sign-up now and get free access to Signority’s Business Plan.

Part 1: The Top 5 Most Promising Industries and Jobs for Recent Graduates

The best industries and jobs for recent graduates

Do you hate that dreaded question at family get-togethers… “So, any plans after graduation?”
Do you wish you had the perfect answer to shut pompous Uncle Mike down?
Well, as a recent grad myself, I decided enough was enough. So, I rolled up my sleeves and began hunting for fresh new industries that would welcome recent grads with open arms!

Our List of Up and Coming Industries and Jobs for Recent Graduates

  1. Virtual Reality

All this talk about finding a job after graduation must just be a virtual reality – but I swear, it’s real! In fact, the virtual reality industry is expected to have a global market size of $1.7 billion this year (that’s an increase of over $1 billion!), and a revenue of $4.6 billion. This growth is expected to increase, with an expected global market size of $24.5 billion in 2020, and $80 billion by 2025 (the size of today’s desktop PC market!). Unsurprisingly, customers can’t get enough of virtual reality. The total number of active users is predicted to reach 90 million by this year, and 171 million by 2018.

  1. Health & Wellness

Today’s consumers are undoubtedly increasingly concerned over their health and overall wellness, as global industry sales are expected to amount to $1 trillion in 2017. This societal shift is present within all ages, from young to old, and it doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon. In fact, the number of adults aged 60 is expected to double by 2050, which will increase their need for health and wellness products. Now for all the Canadian graduates, there has been strong growth in the Canadian health product sector, with an annual growth rate of 15% and economic contribution of $3.5 billion (and growing!). Looks like a promising industry, eh?
As a matter of fact, the #1 company on Fortune 100’s list of “fastest growing companies” is Natural Health Trends, a health and wellness company (surprised?). Just last year their revenue was $298 million, with a total return three-year annual growth rate of 211%.

  1. Drones

The drone industry is expected to explode in the next few years, with a predicted value of over $127 billion by 2020, and a compound annual growth rate of 17%. Drones are extremely multifaceted and diversifiable, and as such, can be used for just about anything (ie. they have huge potential!). For example, Air Shepherd has taken advantage of the many uses drones have and is using them to find wildlife poachers, in order to protect wild rhinos and elephants. Ben Marcus, CEO of AirMap, predicts there will be a 400% increase in drone usage over this year.
Drone companies even made their way onto Fortune 100’s list of fastest growing companies, with Ambarella making the top 10. Ambarella develops video compression and image processing solutions, which are crucial components of many drone cameras. Their total revenue for the past year was a jaw-dropping $303 million, with their shares increasing by 67% in the past 3 months.

  1. Marijuana

The marijuana business is definitely “smoking” hot. With over half of America’s 50 states legalizing marijuana, and Canada currently in the process of legalization, it is no surprise that legal marijuana sales will total a whopping $22.8 billion in 2020.
The pharmaceutical company INSYS therapeutics was also on Fortune 100’s list of fastest growing companies, placing in their top 5. They develop pharmaceutical cannabinoids to address the clinical shortcomings of existing commercial products. Their revenue last year alone totalled to $323 million dollars, with an earnings-per-share, three-year annual growth rate of 119%.

  1. FinTech

The FinTech industry has been taking the financial industry by storm, and there’s no sign of stopping. FinTech companies are better able to meet changing customer needs, by offering convenient, simple and online integrated services. By the year 2020, the global marketplace lending is expected to be valued at $500 billion. Moreover, by the year 2030, there will be a projected 2 billion new customers using their phone for financial services, with over 60% switching to mobile over the next five years. As such, they are leveraging traditional companies limitations and succeeding in areas where they are failing. Additionally, the number of new FinTech start-ups has created a landscape of innovation and competition, driving continued success.
Now you’ll always have an answer to that annoyingly tired question!
Show Uncle Mike exactly what you’re made of, and start focusing your efforts in industries with the most payoff.
Check out Part 2, where I segment different areas of promise within each industry, explain how you can get involved, and some awesome examples to get you started!
Interested in learning from the Pros? Check out our recent article on business experts you should look out for.   
Looking to take your business paperless? Sign-up now and get free access to Signority’s Business Plan.

The 4 Biggest Emerging Insurance Trends and Its Implications

Top 4 Emerging Insurance Trends

Emerging trends, such as driverless cars, P2P insurance and electronic signatures, have disrupted the usually steady world of insurance. But how exactly have these emerging insurance trends affected and changed the industry?

Let’s take a look at some of the emerging insurance trends!

Driverless Cars

Since the emergence of Tesla’s electric cars and the way they took the automotive market by storm, competitors and disruptors, and Tesla themselves, are looking into introducing fully autonomous cars as soon as two years time. Naturally, this changes things significantly for the insurance world. As this market continues to develop, insurers will need to consider potential risks to drivers, passengers and cars, as well as who (or what) is ultimately held responsible.

Driverless Cars Explained

Driverless cars sense their surroundings through integrated circuits and advanced technology, without the help of human input. As such, they provide users with a safer and more convenient means of transportation. Their way of operation includes different levels of autonomy:

  1.     Driver only – self-explanatory
  2.     Driver assistance – automated only for steering, acceleration and braking
  3.     Full autonomy – the car can travel on its own without a human present in the vehicle
  4.     High autonomy – requires human control only periodically during the trip, but are otherwise automated
  5.     Partial autonomy – drivers can interfere only in the event of an emergency

Implications for the Insurance Industry

The whole point of auto insurance is to protect people from human or mechanical error, but what happens when human error is eliminated? The main issues the insurance industry needs to tackle are as follows:

  1. Personal Insurance – Since the drivers essentially become passengers, who will be held accountable in case of an accident? The driver, car manufacturer, or both?
  2. Commercial Insurance – With companies such as Uber or Lyft using driverless cars to take their passengers’ places, how will these vehicles be insured if an accident occurs while on duty?

Driverless cars transitioned quickly from a radical idea to a very real product, with a very fast adoption rate. The insurance industry needs to adapt to these new changes just as quickly.

P2P Insurance

When Lemonade entered the insurance market this past fall, everyone with at least minimal knowledge in insurance knew things were about to change. The implications for the insurance industry were very deep, even though they only operated in New York. Unsurprisingly, requests for expansion into other states were made as soon as it launched. What will this mean for the insurance industry long-term?

P2P Insurance Explained

Peer-to-peer insurance is simpler than it sounds. It’s when a group of people with a mutual cause gather their money in one place, which is then used to pay the claims of any of the members in case of an accident. Usually, companies offering this type of insurance have a backup top-insurer supporting them in case the sum is too big for them to cover. Lemonade uses unpaid claims to support causes close to the heart of the insured. As such, customer trust in their company is bigger, and the tendency to find ways to circumvent the system is considerably lower. Since the company’s profits do not depend on what claims they can and can’t deny you.

Implications for the Insurance Industry

Even though the insurance industry has started to shift, P2P companies have not yet completely and irrevocably disrupted the market. P2P insurance exploits one of the biggest flaws of traditional insurance companies, by inspiring trust and a sense of community with their customers. However, when P2P companies go to traditional insurance companies for help in controversial cases, this newly placed trust in P2P companies will wear off. With that being said, the fact that this new model emerged at all, and has the success it has had so far, existing companies will rethink their stance on insurance going forward.

Drones

As the number of private drone enthusiasts increases and a growing number of commercial drones take flight, so do the risks associated with them. Aside from providing insurance to drones or unmanned vehicles, they hold large potential for changing the insurance game, from fighting fraud to increasing accuracy in risk-management and tailored pricing.
According to Dean Anderson, National Aviation Practice Leader, Wells Fargo Insurance, The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) estimates that approximately 2.5 million drones/unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) will be sold this year, with almost 600,000 used for commercial purposes. The trend leaves a vast unknown in the aviation insurance sector, one that presents excitement, new product development, and a changing underwriting mentality. With widespread US-potential, industries such as industrial inspection, agriculture, real estate, aerial photography, government, and others are investing considerable amounts of money into this emerging industry.”

Drone insurance explained

Drone insurance acts like any other insurance policy. If a drone is damaged in an accident or lost, the loss is covered to an extent by the insurance company. 
There are primarily two types of insurance coverages, UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) insurance provided to the all:  Manufacturer, Owner and Operator Coverage.
And non-owned UAV / UAS Liability Coverage: coverage to companies or individuals that use or hire UAVs that they do not own and that are operated by third parties.
Some of the pre-requisites for these type of insurance are:

  • Buyer or operator’s proof of training
  • Maintenance of drone operational logs
  • Parts or add-ons purchased so far

Implications for the Insurance Industry

Increasing accuracy during catastrophes
During catastrophes, drones can play a critical role in surveying the damage of the insured property. The flexibility of drones allows for immediate surveying and reporting, allowing for a speedy insurance process.
Risk-management
According to PWC’s recent report “Clarity from Above”, drones could be used for instantaneous data collection and risk monitoring. With immediate access and improved quality of data. Insurance companies could easily assess high-risk areas and notify customers of those high-risk areas, ultimately helping them avoid those risks.
Tailored pricing
By often performing hazardous work, drones access and collect critical data sets that effectively allow for insurance companies to provide their customers custom pricing.

eSignatures

Initially frowned upon by lawmakers for its perceived poor cyber security and the consequences of having important legal information stolen, eSignatures are the new norm. The advancement of technology pushed insurers and the laws governing insurance companies to catch up with the times and start using eSignatures as part of their daily work.

eSignatures Explained

Like we mentioned in our previous post “Quick Reference Guide: Electronic Signatures & the ESIGN Act. According to the eSign Act, an eSignature is “any sound, symbol, or process, attached to or logically associated with a contract or other record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record.” If that definition sounds vague or unclear, don’t worry. That’s sort of the idea; it is, after all, “legal-ese”. In plain English, however, the above definition simply “states” an eSignature as a legal concept. That is, its legal definition simply means that it is possible for an electronic signature to carry the same sort of legal “weight” as its pen-and-paper equivalent.
Let’s take a quick look at the basic components of an electronic signature:
Consent:
Basically, any individual who signs an electronic document must explicitly consent to do so in the first place. Should an individual choose not to consent to an electronically signed agreement, a non-electronic option must be made available.
Intent:
In the simplest terms, this means that the signer clearly understands his or her intent to sign the document, and the process by which the individual signed the document was clear and understood from beginning to end.
Verification:
For an electronic document to be considered legally binding it must be signed by the same person whose signature appears on the dotted line. In turn, most electronic signature solutions have built-in verification methods.
Auditability:
This is the electronic equivalent of a “paper trail,” (popularly know in the electronic signature industry as an ‘Audit Trail’) whereby each party involved in an electronic agreement (or a legal entity, for instance) can if necessary, easily access each step of the electronic signature process. You can read more about the anatomy and importance of an audit trail in our post titled “The Anatomy of an Audit Trail: Electronic Signature Simplified”.
While the most known type of an eSignature is the drawn signature, there are other types as well:

  1. Click to sign – these include tick boxes, e-squiggles, scanned images, and typed names. However, they are not considered as a functioning signature. As such, they are commonly used in addition to other types of eSignatures
  2. eSignatures – These typically involve the signer applying their hand-signature mark on the document, which is then protected with a cryptographic digital signature
  3. Advanced and Qualified eSignatures – AES and QES use unique signing keys for every signer, as such, they provide the highest level of trust and assurance. These unique signing keys directly link the user’s identity to the signed document, so anyone is able to verify the signature using an industry standard PDF reader

Implications for Insurance Industry

eSignatures makes life much easier for insurance brokers. eSignature companies like Signority revolutionize document signing and management by creating seamless digital transactions for your customers. Experts agree eSignatures close sales quicker, are more secure and traceable than paper and can be easily integrated into already existing business processes. You are able to securely maintain legal electronic copies of every document, keeping your documents safe from any harm. Communication is also simplified, so much so that it only takes a few minutes to set up, draft, sign and file any necessary documents… no more long days waiting for documents to arrive by mail! Everything is automated and digitalized and at your disposal. To learn more about the habits of highly effective insurance brokers, click here.
While driverless cars and P2P insurance have both positive and negative effects on the insurance market, eSignatures and drones impact looks to be solely positive. We will see in later years how each one of these trends will change the way insurance works, but for now, we can safely say things are looking up!
Disclaimer:
This post focuses on technology and its impact on the North American insurance sector, specifically. It’s important to point out that Signority is not an insurance company, nor are we the expert authority on the subject. However, we have referenced experts often in this post. It would be equally wise (and perhaps a bit obvious) to point out that the insurance industry is incredibly complex. Admittedly, this post is a brief, simplified look at a complex topic.
 
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