IoT Is Letting Your Elevator Talk to Your Air Conditioner; And That’s a Good Thing

By: | March 28, 2019 • 2 min read

Craig Bedell ARM is an Executive Member of IBM’s Global Insurance Industry Leadership Team. With a unique mix of insurance business and technology expertise he is regarded as a global expert in optimizing people, process and technology in insurance and risk management. An author, blogger and public speaker, Craig enjoys sharing thought leadership. He can be reached at [email protected]

If you will agree with me that risk emanates in part from the unknown, then you might also agree that as we fill in the gaps of our awareness, we naturally have the ability to better manage certain risks.

As an employee of one of the world’s largest technology enterprises, I have the luxury of witnessing so many fascinating inventions, innovations and transformations in technology. Being an “insurance person” and a risk manager, I am always observing these developments from the insurance perspective.

The Internet of Things and specifically the “instrumented workplace” has been one of the areas that has really intrigued me as a fertile area risk managers have not quite caught onto in full.

Without a question, there are risks around security and privacy that have been discussed, but I’d like to reinforce the risk management benefits of the new and more complete insights IoT affords.


As assembly lines, heavy equipment, air conditioners, elevators, escalators and equipment of all types get more instrumented, businesses and specifically the COO benefit: His/her staff are now able to use these insights to take preventative measures to avoid mechanical breakdown using predictive maintenance practices.

Companies like IBM offer Predictive Maintenance and Optimization services that incorporate IoT and IBM Watson artificial intelligence to help businesses avoid interruptions and optimize their processes. Manufacturers like Siemens provide predictive maintenance services, and companies like Kone are taking this a step further and using these capabilities for strong marketing and competitive differentiators.

Kone even has a website enabling viewers to listen to its elevators across the globe talking to one another.

But just as the COO benefits as he/she is chartered with keeping the plant up and running, the risk manager is the one managing business interruption risk in part through the purchase of BI insurance. Why wouldn’t these new insights play a significant role in setting self-retention limits as well as fuel powerful conversations with the firm’s broker(s) and primary carrier(s)?

Let’s not overlook workers’ compensation too. If a system breaks down, and workers then have to behave differently than normal, exposure to injury skyrockets.

I argue that avoiding the breakdowns — especially partial breakdowns — also has a positive impact on product liability exposure and to some extent directors and officers liability.

But it doesn’t stop there. In a retail setting, for instance, think about how avoiding mechanical breakdowns helps mitigate other liability exposures. Escalators breaking down inevitably increases trip and fall exposures, especially in the first few moments of the interruption.

My advice is the simple fact that today’s workplace is more instrumented, which provides the CRO an opportunity to partner with the COO to increase the business value of IoT in new and exciting ways.

4 Companies That Rocked It by Treating Injured Workers as Equals; Not Adversaries

The 2018 Teddy Award winners built their programs around people, not claims, and offer proof that a worker-centric approach is a smarter way to operate.
By: | October 30, 2018 • 3 min read

Across the workers’ compensation industry, the concept of a worker advocacy model has been around for a while, but has only seen notable adoption in recent years.

Even among those not adopting a formal advocacy approach, mindsets are shifting. Formerly claims-centric programs are becoming worker-centric and it’s a win all around: better outcomes; greater productivity; safer, healthier employees and a stronger bottom line.


That’s what you’ll see in this month’s issue of Risk & Insurance® when you read the profiles of the four recipients of the 2018 Theodore Roosevelt Workers’ Compensation and Disability Management Award, sponsored by PMA Companies. These four programs put workers front and center in everything they do.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top,” said Steve Legg, director of risk management for Starbucks.

Starbucks put claims reporting in the hands of its partners, an exemplary act of trust. The coffee company also put itself in workers’ shoes to identify and remove points of friction.

That led to a call center run by Starbucks’ TPA and a dedicated telephonic case management team so that partners can speak to a live person without the frustration of ‘phone tag’ and unanswered questions.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top.” — Steve Legg, director of risk management, Starbucks

Starbucks also implemented direct deposit for lost-time pay, eliminating stressful wait times for injured partners, and allowing them to focus on healing.

For Starbucks, as for all of the 2018 Teddy Award winners, the approach is netting measurable results. With higher partner satisfaction, it has seen a 50 percent decrease in litigation.

Teddy winner Main Line Health (MLH) adopted worker advocacy in a way that goes far beyond claims.

Employees who identify and report safety hazards can take credit for their actions by sending out a formal “Employee Safety Message” to nearly 11,000 mailboxes across the organization.

“The recognition is pretty cool,” said Steve Besack, system director, claims management and workers’ compensation for the health system.

MLH also takes a non-adversarial approach to workers with repeat injuries, seeing them as a resource for identifying areas of improvement.

“When you look at ‘repeat offenders’ in an unconventional way, they’re a great asset to the program, not a liability,” said Mike Miller, manager, workers’ compensation and employee safety for MLH.

Teddy winner Monmouth County, N.J. utilizes high-tech motion capture technology to reduce the chance of placing new hires in jobs that are likely to hurt them.

Monmouth County also adopted numerous wellness initiatives that help workers manage their weight and improve their wellbeing overall.

“You should see the looks on their faces when their cholesterol is down, they’ve lost weight and their blood sugar is better. We’ve had people lose 30 and 40 pounds,” said William McGuane, the county’s manager of benefits and workers’ compensation.


Do these sound like minor program elements? The math says otherwise: Claims severity has plunged from $5.5 million in 2009 to $1.3 million in 2017.

At the University of Pennsylvania, putting workers first means getting out from behind the desk and finding out what each one of them is tasked with, day in, day out — and looking for ways to make each of those tasks safer.

Regular observations across the sprawling campus have resulted in a phenomenal number of process and equipment changes that seem simple on their own, but in combination have created a substantially safer, healthier campus and improved employee morale.

UPenn’s workers’ comp costs, in the seven-digit figures in 2009, have been virtually cut in half.

Risk & Insurance® is proud to honor the work of these four organizations. We hope their stories inspire other organizations to be true partners with the employees they depend on. &

Michelle Kerr is associate editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]