Transformation and innovation have become typical jobs within insurance companies, as people are hired to drive these critical areas forward. However, the responsibility for driving change in insurance belongs to the whole organization, not just a few people. For the industry to fully embrace the potential of new technologies and new ways of working, there must be a cultural shift, and it must happen soon.
An innovation gap exists between great ideas and the ability to execute. Fortunately, intelligent automation is a readily available tool that can help to bridge the gap and provide connective tissue within an organization. Yet, all too often, we see a lag resulting from a cultural legacy, whether that’s a lack of top-down innovation strategy, silos in departments or regions, or the weight of process holding back progress.
Insurance carriers are struggling to take advantage of the great ideas their innovation teams, technology partnerships, and other internal functions have been implementing because it takes more than new software installation to drive value.
The value of teamwork in innovation
New products and innovations in insurance should ultimately be driven by a positive outcome for the customer (internal or external). To serve customer needs in the way customers prefer — while considering the complexity of insurance coverage — requires a combination of data, technology and people working together. Innovation cannot, therefore, come from a single person or area of the business. Every innovation needs a multidisciplinary team effort to succeed.
Within that team, the culture should nurture its members to experiment, fail, learn, and improve. It’s important to include business process owners in the team as it helps to keep the focus on the customer outcome, even when it’s the technology that’s leading to them creating that experience.
Empowering people with the skills to drive innovation forwards
The technology-led, digital-first experience is becoming ubiquitous across the entire spectrum of financial services. For insurance to continue accelerating digital transformation progress beyond the influence of the pandemic, it will be critical to ensure the right people are included and brought along for that journey.
Upskilling must be done sooner rather than later in roles across an organization, from claims and underwriting to HR and other back-office functions. Ideally, employees with existing knowledge and expertise within their field would expand on their skills, but bringing in new talent can be a fast route to injecting new capabilities. Doing so ensures the business can pivot to deliver additional value when needed.
People who work in a particular function should have an intimate knowledge of the systems and processes they use, of what works and what doesn’t, and awareness of potential technologies that are available in the organization to help. They may, however, need support and guidance to get to this point, with leadership making it a cultural imperative.
In an insurance company that uses automation software, for example, claims team members understand their own processes, which parts of those processes could be automated and the basics of how to do that with the intelligent automation platform. This understanding would enable them to work proactively with the COE to make improvements within claims and connect their operations into other functions.
But if a company invests in technologies that improve the employee experience (and by extension the customer experience), how do they go about engaging the business and enabling them to use it? Part of that is training, webinars, etc., but the other part is creating a culture of enablement. Let your people try new ideas for making improvements, knowing they may not pan out.
Own your processes; don’t let them own you
The path to success has changed. Transformation doesn’t require ripping out and replacing your systems. You can create a successful ecosystem of the old and the new, using intelligent automation as the connective tissue. However, it does mean you need to be prepared to break down what has worked previously — take a deep look at your processes and rebuild them from the ground up, with the outcome in mind.
Insurtechs have seen success because they had the opportunity to own their processes and technology from the start. They began with a specific customer-focused goal in mind and built their processes to achieve it in the most efficient way. Taking ownership of processes is undoubtedly more of a challenge for a traditional insurer with its weight of legacy and cultural barriers, but it can be done with the right tools and buy-in from the right people.
Your people are your most valuable resource, so ask them how they would improve a process to make the outcome better for the customer or business. Involve them in building it and implementing it and be prepared to fix it if it doesn’t work. Cultivate a culture of ownership and innovation.
It can be challenging to do this in a remote working setting, but that’s the current reality and leaders shouldn’t let it hold back innovation.
Advancing the digital agenda with emotional intelligence
The better a company understands their customers’ perspective and their experiences with insurance, the better its solutions are. In many ways, the technology is the easy part because you need to have emotional intelligence to use data effectively, and to evaluate the output of AI and machine learning technologies.