Industry Shifts

An Ocean Apart: Pre Digital and Post Digital Insurance Models

Measuring the seismic shifts of industry growth and evolution

by Denise Garth

Ms. Garth is senior vice-president of marketing for Majesco, industry consultants with over two decades of experience in providing technology solutions, products and services for the insurance industry across lines of business – Property & Casualty (General Insurance), Life, Annuity, Health, Pensions, and Group & Worksite Benefits insurance. Reprinted with permission. Visit here.

Hundreds of millions of years ago, Pangaea was a supercontinent formation now commonly explained in terms of plate tectonics. It began to break apart in three major phases, but at different times.

During this breakup, some species survived and others struggled. This breakup reset the world. It reorganized the continents, oceans and seaways that subsequently altered the cooling and heating of land and ocean. And it influenced five major mass extinction events, which resulted in significant loss of marine and terrestrial species. It disrupted the world, while creating a new one that would ultimately shape the future. We recognize this as pre and post continental split.

How does this history lesson relate to insurance? We are exiting the pre digital age and entering a post-digital environment where survival will be measured by rapid adaptability.

The digital age represents a seismic shift in the insurance industry, due to the converging “tectonic plates” of people, technology and market boundary changes that are disrupting and redefining the world, industries and businesses — including insurance. As we outlined in our report, Future Trends 2017: The Shift Gains Momentum, the shift is realigning fundamental elements of business that would take more than minor adjustments to survive, let alone succeed.

A slow-to-adapt industry

Just like the tectonic shift millions of years ago that separated the two great continents, we are seeing a similar shift due to the digital age that is pushing a sometimes slow-to-adapt industry by challenging the traditional business assumptions, operations, processes and products. The shift is separating the continents of insurance into two distinctively different business models. The business models of the past 50+ years (based on the business assumptions, products, processes, and channels of the Silent and Baby Boomer generations) will soon be an ocean away from the business models of the next generation (including the Millennials and Gen Z, as well as many in Gen X). To avoid extinction on a pre-digital island, the business models of the past will need to quickly chart a course toward next generation expectations.

It requires a new business paradigm. We must redefine and re-envision insurance, embracing business components that work in the new context of people, technology and market boundaries and discarding the pieces that are outmoded or irrelevant. Most organizations can’t simply flip off their pre digital switch (traditional business model and products administered on traditional systems) and flip on their digital age model (new services and products on modern, flexible systems that will handle digital integration and better data acquisition and analysis).

So, the shift will require steps. Those steps will operate as both a bridge and a proving ground, while the traditional system is still operational as a firm foundation and the new foundation is being constructed. The steps are active, ongoing, and they overlap.

Just like the tectonic shift millions of years ago that separated the two great continents, we are seeing a similar shift due to the digital age

Keep and grow the existing business, while transforming and building the new business
This is crucial. Marketing and Distribution should not pull back from traditional business in anticipation of the launch of new business models, new products or new channels. Insurers cannot stop pushing for more business of a particular type until or unless new products clearly nudge them out of existence. The current business is funding the future and needs to be kept running efficiently and effectively as the market shifts.

Optimize the existing business while building the new business
A customer engagement improvement is ALWAYS an improvement. If an organization’s teams have been working toward placing digital front ends on the traditional business in order to engage customers, they shouldn’t stop in the middle of the bridge. Any process that can be optimized on the traditional side will help to maximize the existing business, reduce the cost of doing business, and provide a bridge from the past to the future while beginning to enable realignment of resources and investment into the new business. These are very often the incremental changes that will also gently shift the customer base through new ways of doing business.

Develop a new business model for a new generation of buyers
Some insurers have made the mistake of envisioning their digital front end as their big leap into the future, not realizing that they have only just touched the new landscape. They need a strategy for a new business model that supports simultaneous leaps forward that will create new customer engagement experiences underpinned by innovative products and services. This will create growth, competitive differentiation and success in a fast-changing market dynamic.

Speeding into the Digital Age

Over the past year, the renaissance of insurance gained momentum due to the convergence of multiple factors or “tectonic plates” that are redefining insurance. The interaction between people, technology and market boundary changes are disrupting the world, industries and businesses that insurance serves. We have seen the introduction of new products, the establishment of new channels, the offering of new services, the launching of new business models, and much more. These events have created disruption and opportunity for insurers.

It is a new age of insurance — a digital age. Each and every day, insurers must recommit to their business strategies and their renaissance journeys. They must avoid falling into an operational trap or resorting to traditional thinking. The appetite for traditional multi-year, multi-million dollar, on-premise custom configurations has waned, all while new competitors, new business models and new products are being launched to the market in a fraction of the time and cost. In this new age of insurance, the focus is on speed to value including:

  • Speed to implementation – get up and running in weeks or a few months versus years
  • Speed to market – rapidly develop and launch new products with ready to use rules and tools
  • Speed to revenue – rapidly enable business growth with minimal upfront cost

Building these new business models will continue to intensify. Majesco is increasingly working with existing insurers and reinsurers who are taking new paths to capture the next generation of customers and position themselves for growth and sustainable agility across the new insurance landscape. Because new competitors don’t play by the traditional rules of the past, insurers need to be a part of rewriting the rules for the future. There is less risk in a game where you write the rules.

Will you be stranded on pre-digital island in a sea of change? Or will you join the game?