Although they might seem to be on entirely opposite ends of the spectrum, insurance providers and technology companies have some fundamental principles in common: Both are usually most effective when employing some combination of reacting to people's current needs while anticipating their future ones.
For the most part, insurance companies have operated under roughly the same principles and business models for centuries. When it comes to modernizing their businesses, most have focused on the types of specific small-scale adaptations and integrations needed to keep up with the times – first websites, then social media, mobile apps and so on. But few have undergone the type of true digital transformations that could take them beyond providing simple modern conveniences. Changes in customer expectations and rapid advances in technology and data create an inflection point in the insurance industry. While leading firms have done a lot over the past 10 years to digitize and innovate, there is a recognition that they need to do a lot more quickly. This change must originate from the leadership teams of respective insurance companies. Through IT leadership development exercises, executives and senior leaders can emerge with increased technical knowledge and confidence, as well as a common understanding of the company's technology goals and a unified approach to change.
To become true leaders in the global property and casualty insurance industry, providers need to embrace this challenge by partnering with technology companies to create bold, aspirational strategic visions using new technologies and creative solutions to address internal and external customer needs. To more effectively and holistically help their clients manage and mitigate risk, these industry leaders need to innovate approaches to leverage data and technology to provide better risk management products and services.
For this new approach to work, it has to start with a top-down mandate from stakeholders within insurance companies' IT infrastructure and top executives and thought leaders at the highest levels of the overall organization. In addition, that mandate has to be born from partnerships with global IT leaders, who can help senior IT leaders with the insurance industry learn the technical, data and leadership skills necessary to navigate these types of digital transformations. Armed with both increased technical knowledge and increased confidence to affect change, these leaders can, in turn, reach a common understanding of their companies' technology goals while also creating a unified approach to change.
IT executives and senior leaders are key drivers of success. For an organization to quickly realize a tech vision and reap the benefits of digitization, leaders must have cutting-edge technical knowledge, a shared vision for change and, most critically, a people-focused approach that empowers the organization now and in the future.
A Practical Approach to Leadership Development
A true digital transformation – especially within an industry that could conceivably continue to succeed without it – is a complicated journey, a paradox and a tightrope walk all rolled into one. It has to be relatively easy to implement while also being comprehensive enough to create real change. It also means creating a delicate balance between implementing the latest technological innovations but doing so in practical ways that are relatively future proof.
The best way to strike this balance is by partnering with a multi-disciplinary team of engineers, data scientists, organizational change consultants and learning experts. This team would work with key insurance industry stakeholders to custom tailor an executive learning program and make that program mandatory for top IT executives and senior managers. Senior leadership and their team of engineers should compile a corporate risk profile re-counting the organization's key risks, addressing threats and opportunities. Assuming zero trust and identifying the likelihood of an event with its subsequent affect, will aid in setting an organization's goals and objectives. Through the risk assessment process, a corporate risk profile enhances senior management's analysis of how to prioritize and allocate resources. Ultimately, it should focus on key strategic IT priority areas like Powered by People; Cloud and Serverless; DevOps; API & Microservices; Data, AI, and ML, and should also include:
Self-paced learning content created by IT experts: Written by IT leaders for IT leaders, the content should distill insights and lessons learned from decades of experience with digital natives. Leaders should be guided to assess organizational maturity in each priority area and provide options and considerations regarding the key technologies, processes, and organizational changes required to move forward. Although the core content may be pulled and curated from the IT expert's library, it should be tailored for those experts' individual insurance industry partners. Examples, terms and practical tasks should be reframed for those partners, and each module should include a section that highlights related initiatives and frameworks specific to their businesses.
Implementation conversations: After each module, company leaders should meet in small groups to discuss the next steps. Experts should co-facilitate the discussions from the insurance companies and their IT firm partners, who should be selected from within competency and practice stakeholders from each organization. Together, the facilitators need to provide both outside-in and inside-out perspectives and solutioning to key challenges raised by insurance industry leaders in implementing the strategic priority area.
Knowledge and efficacy assessments: From the beginning and throughout the training, individualized and curated knowledge assessments should drive any program. Leaders should be tested on a series of scenarios in each of the strategic priority areas and related topics, asking to identify the best action or decision to address the situation. They should also rate their confidence in implementing the company's tech vision.
Action-planning workshops: At the completion of the program, cohorts of leaders should meet with technology and transformation experts to develop a plan to transfer their learning into practice. Every participant should leave the training workshop with personal goals and an action plan to help their teams and the company move more quickly toward the goals set for a complete digital transformation.
No company can truly predict the future, but true leaders within both the technology and insurance industries can typically demonstrate some ability to anticipate it. By working together to create thoughtful and impactful digital transformations, both industries can better serve both each other and their clients.