Editors' Cuts

More—or Even Some—Disruption, Please

Carrie Burns
Insurance Experts' Forum, November 9, 2011

Can insurers cultivate creative disruption? And if so, how? During its Creative Disruption Workshop in Boston on Nov. 3, research and consulting firm Celent sought to encourage some disruption in the insurance industry.

Before I arrived at the event, I was thinking, “insurers and disruption? Oil and water? Yeah, okay.” But when Craig Weber took the stage to welcome attendees, I looked around and realized I was wrong. While insurers may not be widely known as disruptors yet, the people in the room wanted to be, and were there to find out how.

Despite the tried-and-true business model of insurance, Weber stated there is both ample room for disruption in the industry and a robust appetite for it. Previewing a report Celent will release in December on creative disruption, Weber noted that 94 percent of the carriers surveyed by the firm believe that creative disruption has value and should be fostered—94 percent!

This is where technology comes into play. While technological innovation is not synonymous with creative disruption, it is increasingly the catalyst. One need look no further than how consumers’ behaviors and expectations are changing in light of mobile and self-service technologies to see their potential for altering long-standing business processes within insurance companies for the better. “There is no problem today that technology can’t solve,” Weber said.

Not surprisingly, respondents of the survey see one of the largest opportunities for disruption in product design and features. Nonetheless, when contemplating this result, Weber said “eh,” and I agree. Disruption in the channel experience is where it’s at. This is evidenced by more facts from the report, in which Celent looks to its 2011 Model Insurers for examples of creative disruption. There were three cases of disruption—one in the market and product agility area and two in the partnerships area. “And this is supposed to be the best of the best. This is making our case for disruption,” said Weber.

In addition to technology, Weber emphasized that strategy has to be involved too. This leads to the overarching conclusion of the entire day: The strategy has to be set and executed by the leaders, the C-suite.

Rafe Offer, entrepreneur and marketer, and one of the panelists from the Core Systems Strategy Roundtable, said if the CEO is not behind it, it’s hard to get anywhere and to sustain it, you need the culture. “Is there a vision that everyone remembers? Is it consistently enforced? If you’re not living the vision, you’re not right for the company.”

Brian Jones, IT manager at Liberty Mutual concurred. “It has to come from the CIO/CEO,” he said. I could see in his face that he was excited about creative disruption, but what role does he play? While it may not be that leadership role, he has to take his disruptive ideas to the C-suite and do it in an effective way.

Concluding the day, Weber asked the audience for any opinions on creative disruption, and an audience member said, “I wish there was more disruption.” So did everyone in the room. That’s why they were there, and it will start with them. What about you?

Carrie Burns is an editor for Insurance Networking News.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Carrie by using the “Add Your Comments” box below. He also can be reached at carrie.burns@sourcemedia.com.

This blog was exclusively written for Insurance Networking News. It may not be reposted or reused without permission from Insurance Networking News.

Comments (2)

Thanks, Ben. It was a great event. We also have a slideshow at http://bit.ly/ukiWyG

Posted by: carrie.burns | November 11, 2011 12:47 PM

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Great write-up on the event. For those that would like to view the videos from the event on The Case for Creative Disruption: http://vimeo.com/31409934

Posted by: Ben M | November 11, 2011 12:38 PM

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