- Where Insurance & Technology Meet

Which Came First: The Strategy or the Digital?

It is amazing how the turn of a phrase can quickly put a complex issue issue into perspective. What brought me to my knees around ‘digital strategy’ was taken care of in two sentences that fit nicely into a tweet, with room to spare.

Long Day’s Journey Into Misunderstanding …

For almost a year, I was developing content for the 2016 Technology Conference, which became increasingly focused around digital.  As a result, I was working with practitioners and consultants to understand, and frame, the impact of digital technologies on the practice of insurance.

I interviewed practitioners who were making digital decisions.  I listened carefully to consultants’ webinars. I went to the closing portion of a life-insurance-focused hackathon,  and I was more than impressed — not by the technology, but by the results.

It was clear to me that digital was more than a fad and that it was already impacting segments of our industry.  One common thread throughout was emphasis on the need for a ‘corporate digital strategy’ — and that’s where my understanding stopped.

I have built and executed strategies — business, marketing, and technology — but my experience didn’t correlate well with what I was hearing.  And I wasn’t alone. Last August, this column reviewed a UK-based study which found that only 37% of insurers said their digital strategy aligned with corporate strategy.

What was the revelation, and what does it mean?

At the 2016 Broker Forum last week, the topic of digital strategy came up at one of the panels, and a broker provided the ‘Ah-ha!’ moment for me.  Here’s the tweet I sent:

Peter DaSilva: “There is no such thing as Digital Strategy. There is Strategy in a Digital World.”

Peter is COO of Vaughan, Ontario-based Cornerstone Insurance Brokers. Cornerstone was one of the finalists in the 2016 Technology Awards for its implementation of  Zywave’s ‘Broker Briefcase’ product, allowing producers to provide targeted, value-add services.  The results are significantly higher retention and referrals, along with improved client satisfaction.

In other words, Peter has the bona fides to speak to strategy.

And what I heard is that the world is turning digital.  Consumers and corporations are relying on digital tools to improve the quality and ease of use of products and services. This is impacting behaviours and expectations.

Insurers and brokers need to proactively recognize the trends digital is creating in the customer base, provide digital services to these customers, and be prepared to provide products that meet demands for managing new or changing risks.  These are the strategies for the digital world.

What took me so long?

I am usually pretty good at cutting to the chase, but I confess ‘digital’ had me going in circles.  It does encompass a lot of new, sophisticated technologies. More significantly, digital is changing our environment generally and insurance practices and products specifically.  And these changes are coming quickly.

However, principles of insurance are tremendously resilient, as are its leading practitioners. I have been humbled by the elegance of this profession in the past and, as my experience suggests, I have to be reminded periodically.

Did I finally get it right?

What do you think? Am I finally getting this right, or have I missed something?