Avoid Being a Digital Dodo Bird
Insurance Experts' Forum, September 25, 2013
Avoid Being a Digital Dodo Bird
For the past few years, one of the hottest terms has been digital disruption. It is often followed by agility, vision, change, infrastructure … and extinction. But what is it and what does it really mean for you and your company?
First, a simple, concise definition: "We think of it, simply, as having to do with business models that are fundamentally challenged by the digital age, by the Internet, by advances in consumer technology," according to The Business Review.
The reality is that the digital age has transformed our world, how we do business, and how we communicate. If you aren't changing and evolving to accommodate this new world, you face extinction making you a Digital Dodo Bird. Still remember Borders? How about Tower Records? Looked for the big red façade of a Circuit City lately? Does Pets.com ring a bell?
The same holds true for specific technologies. When was the last time you bought film for your camera? Are those floppy disks still working for you? Remember the PalmPilot you couldn't live without?
It isn't hard to think of those companies and technologies that vanished most likely due to an inability to plan, adapt, and change. And the list of companies warming up for extinction is updated online regularly.
The world has changed dramatically and those who are not future-ready, who are not able to attack this evolving marketplace head on and not speaking to a new generation of customers may face the same fate. Just look at your kids … they are growing up with digital in their hands from the moment they can hold your smartphone to view a Mickey YouTube video. Their expectations are that digital is ubiquitous in their lives. The question is … is it ubiquitous in your company? If not, you are on the road to extinction!
Ellen Carney, Senior Analyst at Forrester provided insights into digital disruption during our June Customer Advisory Board meeting. She showed that digital disruption is built upon digital platforms where devices lay the foundation, software builds the experience on top of it, and consumers believe it.
David Smith, CEO for Global Futures and Foresight built on that information, stating that when we get new technology, most just do things differently with the technology. Those that innovate and yes … disrupt … do different things. Subtle difference in words, but massive difference in impact!
This is the position that insurers face today.
Many insurers are talking and planning for digitalization of their business by simply taking what they do today and making it digital. You had a paper policy, for example. Now it's an electronic document. They are doing things differently but it's really not a radical change.
Future-ready insurers are really doing things differently —leveraging digitalization to positively impact all areas of the business. They are dramatically redefining everything from business models to distribution channels to how they service their clients. They are also gaining maximum advantage through new thinking, organizational change, new skill sets and innovative ideas to really disrupt and do different things.
In fact, recent Gartner research indicates that during the last 12 months, digitalization has emerged as one the big transformation initiatives for insurers, focusing on customer-facing channels, improving customer experience and interactions to match this new insurance customer who is tech-savy, multi-tasker, social, and interactive.
So what do insurers need to do to avoid extinction? They need to do different things!
It begins right from the start when consumers want to find and price a policy. They use a search engine to find prices, reviews, and details about coverages. Then, they can compare, analyze, and buy a policy right on the Internet. They can also check and solicit opinions on social media while evaluating you as a vendor. Future-ready insurers are working to ensure their information is readily available online, they implemented SEO, they developed an easy to use and navigate portal, they monitored and addressed outstanding comments on social media, and they make it simple to purchase. They make it easy to do all of this on a computer, tablet or smartphone. Overall, they are doing things differently to adapt to the digital first world and feeding the beast that is our data-centric world.
You need to be sure your digital environment, core business solutions and infrastructure accommodate these consumer needs or else they will go to someone who can service them the way they prefer.
You need to have solutions that know your customers, provide customized views, and work together to combine all aspects of that person's account from policy to claims to status. Quick, easy access to all the information is essential.
So do you do things differently to take full advantage of this digitalization?
1. Experiment and innovate with technology within a dedicated group
2. Get to know your customers, their expectations and unique differences
3. Look at other industries for inspiration … from Google to Amazon to FedEx
4. Identify business functions that impact your customers
5. Apply the experimentation of technology to do something different … to disrupt
6. Seek feedback and assess the results, change, modify and don’t be afraid to fail
Like it or not, digital disruption is changing our entire world, our businesses, our influences, our expectations and yes … our choices. Your choice is how you deal with its impact. Time is running out and it's essential that you have the vision, plan, and solutions that can help you be future-ready. Because we all know this is just the first round of digital … with so much more to come. Future ready solutions must be agile and flexible to respond to the changing demands of our customers.
In the end, you have two choices. You can be a future-ready, competitive and a leader in our industry or you can go the way of the legendary dodo bird.
Denise Garth is the executive vice president of strategic marketing and industry relations, and global head of market strategy for Innovation Group North America. She can be reached for further comment or information via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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