People drive innovation. Despite all the hype about insurtech and the potential for disruption of the insurance market, it is not technology that is the catalyst for change. Great technology is just a result of great people allowed to translate their visions into reality.
But, first things first.
Get your Organisational structure and culture right
Great leadership delivers insurance innovation. A study from Gartner, covered in the article CIO’s will steer cultural change to drive digital transformation, reports that:
- 80% of medium to large enterprises will change their culture to increase the odds for digital transformation success.
- In 50% of cases, transformation initiatives are clear failures and CIOs report that the main barrier is culture.
- 67% of organisations surveyed have completed cultural change as they identified the previous culture as a barrier to digital transformation.
The article concludes that the right culture and organisational structure must be in place before any company can hope to innovate and gain the benefits of new technology. This includes the need for management to nurture unconventional thinkers.
…support the right people
Sport can teach us much about business. In the very first paragraph of his autobiography, Kevin Pietersen, the cricketer, relates the joke about a mother watching a column of soldiers passing by. She remarks that all the men are out of step, except for her son Fred. Pietersen starts with this joke so that he can make the following response, setting the tone for most of the book: “… if I was in the trenches, I’d want Fred at my side. I don’t march in step … That’s not who I am.”
Rightly, businesses must concentrate on continuity and stability. You haven’t got a business for very long if you don’t value them. Change often equates to risk and, at heart, most innovators know and acknowledge this. But when the urge to avoid any risk means that business leaders routinely dismiss and suppress the unorthodox… what then? Sooner or later, someone who takes a risk with an unorthodox idea will grab the customers and take them elsewhere. They’ll let you keep the ball and the field you’re playing in, but everyone else is in the stadium next door with a shiny new ball.
What sort of people come up with these fabulous new ideas? One of the most influential and best-selling business books of recent years is “Mavericks At Work, why the most original minds in business win”, by William C Taylor and Polly LaBarre. No lesser person than Tom Peters remarked “I didn’t read this book, I devoured it”, an accolade indeed. The book was published in 2006, but one of the first sentences still holds true in many areas of the financial service industry, “Business needs a breath of fresh air”. The book argues conclusively, to me at least, that playing it safe is not the smart option.
Finally, minimise the risk
It is true in many cases that innovation can introduce risk. In addition, not every solution will be a success. This is where technology can help. The right technology can be used to model potential solutions quickly and effectively, enabling humans to recognise what works and what doesn’t. The best technology is flexible enough to support the most unconventional thinking.
In the journey of innovation, the ideas – whether incremental or radical – are just the beginning. They need to be moved from discovery to impact on the business. Unless an idea for a product, service or business model is carried through to the customer, it will never deliver any value. Successful innovation is a perfect marriage between the creativity of the best people and the flexibility of the best technology.
A better future for the financial market starts with new ways of thinking. People drive innovation.