Ahead of the Post Insurance Technology Summit content director Jonathan Swift sat down with Crowe partner Daniel Bruce to discuss the difficult questions insurers need to ask themselves before undertaking digital innovation projects, and why they need to stay realistic to reap the greatest benefits.
What questions should a business ask before embarking on designing implementing innovative new products?
Crowe partner Daniel Bruce: “Companies often focus on the typical questions such as the payback period, return on investment, and don’t think enough about whether the innovation or technology fits in with their strategic objectives; or the extent to which it is going to meet customer needs. So that is a key area that they need to focus on. To think which of their business objectives the innovation is likely to assist with.
“Subsequently, the other thing companies don’t think about is whether they have the experience and maturity to implement a particular innovation - or whether they have the skills inhouse to deliver what they are trying to achieve.”
What common mistakes do you see people make when implementing new technologies; and how can you counter them?
Bruce: “We often see clients struggle with some of the broader perspectives. They focus on the innovation itself or the technology. But some of the issues we don’t think are considered enough include data governance, data protection and some of the ethical challenges that inevitably arise because of that.
“They also don’t think enough about the processes that they might need to change within their organisation. Clearly if you are changing processes and asking people to do things differently or more efficiently, there are cultural challenges associated with it too.
“Companies are also focused on the short term. They are trying to solve problems without thinking about what it means in the medium and long term when they would be better served focusing on that instead.
“Which leads me to my final point. And that is insurers don’t engage with stakeholders either often or regularly enough during the process.”
Given that a C-level engagement is a priority for a successful implementation, how do you go about involving and engaging board members to take this seriously?
Bruce: “Starting with the board their buy-in is ultimately fundamental for any success. So understanding their views, expectations and appetite for risk within this area [is essential]. Companies are not used to embarking on new projects where there is a reasonable risk of failure, so recognising this up front is important.
“It is also important to keep the board updated along the way and reconfirm their expectations, their understanding and give them a chance to influence and input.
“That is particularly important where companies spend too much time thinking about the specific technology and lose sight of the original business objectives that they trying to meet.
“When it comes to the executives it is really important to ensure there is clarity around responsibilities. And that is doubly important in the innovation space because in many instances you are involving people across different functional areas who have not worked together beforehand.
When implementing new technologies how does a business transition smoothly between proof-of-concept into a business as usual environment?
Bruce: “Hopefully upfront the organisation has defined success criteria and then apply these at different stages across the [implementation] journey. Something else we encourage is not to get too ambitious, too quickly. We have done workshops where we are finding ourselves trying manage [attendees] enthusiasm and help [a client] think about the different phases to their innovation because that increases the likelihood of success at each stage. And particularly when you are doing new things and you have got a whole range of stakeholders, keeping them focused is really important.
“Another thing that is important when you are taking a proof of concept forward is that you take the opportunity to review how the project has gone to date and whether you are hitting the success criteria; [Looking at] whether you are going deliver the objectives you set yourself, and being really hard on yourself and stopping a project if necessary.
“Clearly you hope everything is running really well and then you are ready to move into the next phase, and that is where you can spend a bit more time thinking through any third parties you are working with, any processes that might need to change and which functional areas or teams are going to have to understand what they need to do differently.”
You are presenting at the upcoming Post Insurance Technology Summit in October, what can delegates expect from your session?
Bruce: “It will be an interactive session so hopefully it will be engaging and dare I say it, fun. It will be based around a new innovative insurance product, that might be slightly out there - and over a series of rounds we will see the lifecycle of that product development through, and get input from people as we go along. It is really important that we get the delegates own perspectives and experiences and feed them into it as that will be interesting.
“And then we will be able to look at the various challenges and different scenarios that we need to think about, but ultimately it will be about the opportunities and how companies maximize them in as successful way as possible.”
For more information on the 2019 Insurance Technology Summit click here.
To register your interest to attend email: [email protected]