In its latest Report on the insurance industry (Insurance 2025: Reducing Risk in an Uncertain Future) IBM’s Institute of Business Value manages to hide its value behind bland recommendations.
For example, try these four critical “no-regret moves” for management tedium:
- “Build a war chest by embracing cannibalization: As products move to “as-a-service” models, deconstructing and componentizing legacy systems will be required to sustain cost competitiveness. Invest in hybrid-based and cloud-ready, flexible product models that can handle a wide range of scenarios, available as-a-service to enable new market entry and experimentation at low cost, on secure and scalable platforms.
- “Prepare partner ecosystems: Insurers need to collaborate, both to collect data and to more meaningfully participate in risk conversations. In order to have a say in future market structural changes, it’s essential to cultivate partnerships and membership in ecosystems of “adjacent space” partners in relevant lines of business.
- “Build high-beam headlights: Know where you need to be a leader and bring together technology, business capability and product investment. Make use of analytics along with many sources of data to understand where we are on the path to the future. Understand customer behavior and risk parameters and influences at deep levels, and pursue new forms and sources of customer data.
- “Embrace innovation: Create a culture that fosters innovation and design processes that enable innovation. Leaders can be proactive because they have created structural flexibility that makes taking quick, early action self-reinforcing. Start by streamlining internal innovation processes, with central funding and investment models and quick-hit projects and partnerships.”
Few insurance companies could implement these in ways which would put them in a better position to move forward.
Now contrast these questions, all of which are au point:
- “To what degree has your organization adopted cognitive technologies?
- “How are you utilizing decentralized technologies such as the Internet of Things and blockchain?
- “Which products and services besides classical coverage of risk are you considering? What are the impediments to doing so?
- “How are you partnering and collaborating to build ecosystems? If you aren’t, why not?
- “Do you have early-warning indicators to recognize which future we are headed into? What are they?
- “How are you building the skills of your workforce to cope with the future you identify?”
As Christian Bieck, IBM Institute for Business Value Global Insurance Lead says: “When considering the insurance world of 2025, we view the potential impact of cognitive technology to be very high, but the exact nature of how it will be implemented is uncertain. While adoption is relatively unknown we believe technologies like cognitive and IoT will provide competitive advantage and better future-proof leading insurers.”
The IBV produces interesting material. It is a pity IBM chooses to hide the valuable beneath a surfeit of gobbledegook management verbiage sufficient to annoy most executives.
The six questions are topical today. The answers for the years before 2025 will provide insights. Indeed, it is arguable that most of these six are applicable to any large or medium enterprise wishing to move deeper into 21st Century solutions.