By Louise Billmeyer, VP & CIO, Principal Financial Group
When you hear the word insurance in a business context, what comes to mind? Complex products? Slowness-to-change? An important, if not enthralling, topic? They’re all fair responses. After all, we’retalking about an industry that manages risk as a business and has a long history of focusing on the product and channeling IT investmentlargely intoproduct support.
But major changes are a foot. For the retail and group life, disability and specialty/ancillary benefits (e.g., dental, vision) businesses, marked shift in consumer demographics and behaviors is transforming not only the types of protection products people are interested in buying but the way they want to be informed about and engaged in making insurance decisions. Notably:
The upshot is that a business segment that’s been relatively free from disruption is fast becoming a hot-bed of opportunity for it. This includes disruption by established insurance companies seeking to capitalize on the direction the industry is going by employing business and technology innovation to transform their own products and services. However, the insurance business has also become attractive—sexy even!—to entrepreneurs and capital investors, and insurance technology start-ups are cropping up all over the place.
“The insurance business has also become attractive to entrepreneurs and capital investors, and insurance technology start-ups are cropping up all over the place.”
Becoming an Insurance Industry Innovator
Given the current climate, the question becomes, if you’re in the insurance business, how do you get in – and win–the disruption game?
The good news is that many foundational technologies and development practices are readily available for consumption that can help you launch your innovation journey. Taking advantage of digital technologies like data analytics, mobile, internet of things, and cognitive
If your company has yet to move in one or both of the directions above, you can hasten its progress by engaging:
This isn’t to say that shifting your business environment in the ways above is something that occurs overnight. Maturing your organization’s use of analytics and upping its agility quotient require a true cultural shift and, if you’re in the beginning stages of making these changes, it will be sometime before you’ll be able to realize their full benefits.
Identify Business Transformation Targets
When your organization is prepared to support innovation, the next step is to identify targets for disruption. One approach is to focus on an internal business capability or process that’s complex and time intensive, like underwriting management, and explore the possibilities:
Ready, Set, Experiment
Once you’ve identified an area of focus, such as a service or process, to target for transformation, exploiting thefull range of available resources will be critical to your success. This includes:
The key is, once you’ve shifted your organization’s culture and established an environment that supports innovation, winning at the insurance industry disruption game requiresa combination of commitment to understanding your consumer and a hearty appetite for fearless experimentation.