It’s been about two months since InsureTech Connect 2019 and, admittedly, I’m testing the shelf life of the many great ideas, takeaways and inspirations I found while attending. It was a worthy conference sponsorship for LexisNexis Risk Solutions, in part, because we made an investment and had a plan on how to maximize it. Coming up for air after such an experience can take some time, but in the spirit of “better late than never,” I wanted to share my thoughts on the foundational theme of this conference year after year: disruption. Not, however, in the traditional sense.
The word “disrupt” originates from the Latin “disrumpere,” which means to break apart. So let’s start there. Take a minute and think about one or two core products in your business that should be fixed. Not because they are broken, but because they could be made better. I’m not talking about a technical bug, or billing issues, or even a process choke point. Don’t think about it in terms of the minute details that make our businesses, processes and products tick. Instead, think about a business or a core product within the business that always seems to run well and can be counted on to deliver year after year, without fail. Now, break it.
Or, at least attempt to make it obsolete by building something better, an approach drawn from Henry Ford’s famous – if somewhat dubiously attributed – quote about asking people what they want, even if it’s not the best solution. What you have, or what you want, may be working, but it may just be time for a disruption. Why disrupt what’s already working? A forward thinking entrepreneur unencumbered by tribal knowledge and legacy systems would tell you that if someone is going to innovate your stalwart legacy product into extinction, it might as well be you.
The Forces of Disruption
There are three fundamental forces that InsureTech Connect caused me to think about:
- External takeovers: Businesses that innovate in a way that eliminates the traditional market. For example, consider what word processors and GPS technology has done to typewriters and map making.
- External nudges: External transformations of one business component can force mass innovation. Think about how digital payment modernization disrupted the traditional banking system.
- Internal forces: If your business doesn’t force change upon itself, someone outside your business will, and by the time that happens it could be too late.
Force number three is where you can control your outcomes. What reliable legacy system or product comes to mind when you think about disrupting your own business? For example: what impact will telematics and IoT have on your traditional pricing models, assumptions and strategies? How do drones and aerial imagery change the customer experience? What product or ideology has stood the test of time so far, but might not for much longer? What “moat” do you have around your business? Are you sure . . . really, sure . . . that the moat is as deep as you think it is?
You may be wondering, where do startups fit in? The short answer: front and center. We as an industry need their ideas, their audacity and their leanness. The buy/build/partner question will rise and fall as new initiatives, new system requirements and new consumer demands emerge. While the entrance of startups to the market are all but given, be wary of letting external forces be your single source of inspiration. It was Jack Welch who said “If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.”
As a data and analytics provider, LexisNexis Risk Solutions challenges and disrupts its own processes and ideologies. Our customers’ voices are always called upon to validate or reject what we think we know about the market. And because innovation is the cornerstone of our practice, we are breaking down barriers to communication and openness as often as we can. The bet here is that a collaborative, honest and accountable culture with a vision of a future can’t help but disrupt itself.
So, here is my biggest takeaway from InsureTech Connect 2019: be your own insurtech! Disrupt your business and “break” that very thing that no one ever thought would need fixing. Disrumpere!
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