In Focus: Megatrends  

The digital revolution must involve building technology with a heart

Sirma Boshnakova

Sirma Boshnakova

If the past two years have taught us anything as a global community, it’s that the acceleration of digitalisation is nothing short of a revolution – and it will continue at breakneck speed.

So, on World Telecommunication and Information Society Day this May 17, I simply cannot find the words to express my enthusiasm for this year’s theme: accelerating digital transformation in challenging times.

The digital vista has often been accused of claiming an overbearing influence on our lives, with screen time inevitably replacing face-to-face interactions and the fostering of meaningful relationships.

Those accusations may be fair, to an extent. But our response to the pandemic has proven that technology doesn’t have to be robotic in nature.

It can also be used to strengthen bonds like never before, enabling people to connect together on a deeper level.

In essence, across the complex times of the pandemic, and now with the war in Ukraine, technology has taught us that it can truly assume a human touch.

From a personal perspective, Covid lockdowns and restrictions have, perhaps rather ironically, allowed me to connect with my family at home in Bulgaria more frequently. They’ve enabled me to learn about my colleagues, much more than when I was sitting in my office only a few meters away from them.

I’ve been compelled to explore multiple apps and technologies on both a personal and professional level, particularly with regard to health. I think I speak for millions of people when I say that we have felt a bold urge to embrace the technological shift triggered by the immensely unpredictable circumstances.

And the shift is deeper than we think. 

Societal mission

To the point that I often ask myself, as board member of Allianz and the chief executive of an international organisation, do we, as an insurance business, truly do our best to harness data and technology to prevent our customers from getting into trouble in the first place? Are customers really enjoying the full benefits of this digital revolution?

We probably now have crucial choices and leaps to take. We’ve done a lot to protect our customers, but in the global sphere of insurance, our societal mission now is to use technology to predict risks and prevent accidents from happening in the first place.

This kind of digitalisation requires significant strategic investments and requires leaders to take a long-term view on the competitive advantages they’re building, together with an openness towards shifting their business model over time.

But without a human touch it becomes an opportunity that is catastrophically wasted. This is the very cornerstone on which the future of technology in insurance stands.

So, the next move in this revolution must involve building technology with a heart.