Is the Best IT Talent Attracted to Innovation and Experimentation?
Insurance Experts' Forum, October 16, 2013
Over the past couple of weeks, some analysts have released their “Top 50” lists of the world's best companies – one being the best places to work, and the other being the most innovative companies.
Guess what? Not a single insurer is mentioned among them.
In one rating system, Universum, a global branding consultancy, asked both graduating business and engineering students where their ideal place to work would be. No surprise, the likes of Google, Microsoft, Apple and IBM topped the list for both business and academic majors. Further down the list were such luminary enterprises as Coca-Cola, Deloitte, Morgan Stanley, HP, Nestle and Intel. There were even a few banks – HSBC, Deutsche Bank, UBS, Credit Suisse and Barclays. But not an insurer in sight.
Another report, published by Boston Consulting Group, investigated the top innovators across the globe. Again, the tech firms – Apple, Google, Samsung, Microsoft, IBM – took the lead. This year, a number of auto manufacturers rose to the top of the list – Toyota, Ford, BMW and Volkswagen, to name a few. No financial services organizations of any kind made the list, and again, no sign of the insurance industry.
Granted, these lists flow to the big, sexy brands that tend to command a lot of mindshare. But the total absence of insurers also suggests a perceptual problem that will have ramifications down the road. Namely, insurance continues to be perceived as an “old-line” industry that is staid and set in its ways, with little adventure to offer prospective talent.
That's a problem. As insurers evolve into digital enterprises, the need for talent – not just for application developers and analysts, but for visionaries who can disrupt from within and create new business lines – is growing. However, insurance companies are competing with many other industries for this kind of talent. The individual who understands the digital realm and could even someday be that visionary CIO, CFO or even CEO is being drawn instead to tech startups, e-commerce companies or financial services.
Insurers need to get aggressive about embracing digital opportunities and letting their professional staff explore – and even fail at – launching new innovations. Insurers need to communicate to students and working professionals alike that they are not the cautious organizations everyone thinks they are. Insurers, too, are technology companies, looking to reach out and explore new markets and create new types of products and services that will improve peoples' lives.
The insurance industry should be well represented on these lists.
Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.
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