“You don’t say ‘no,’” said one of Australia’s leading life insurer executives at Sapiens’ recent CxO Insurance Roundtable customer event, which I had the pleasure of hosting in Sydney, Australia.

She had been specifically asked how the IT department at her insurance company reacts when the business wants to push in a certain direction despite IT reservations, but her response seemed to represent the participants’ prevailing attitude on a number of important issues.

The 13 C-level executives (business and IT) from leaders in the life and general insurance markets across Australia and New Zealand – are saying “yes” to increased customer engagement, risk and organisational harmony, as well as new policy administration systems.Yes

Narrowing Customer Touch-Points

During a discussion on pressing issues insurers are confronting, several speakers remarked that the insurance industry is quickly shifting from a product-based industry to a customer-based industry.

Peter Marmara, General Manager of RAC Insurance said of his organisation’s business model, “It has historically been a renewal business, or a claim every five years. We realise our touch-points are incredibly far apart, so how can we engage customers more?”

A weather warning service for members and telematics were two examples given by Peter as potential answers to his question of how his organisation can transition from a transactional customer model to more continuous engagement.

Gerard Kerr, head of life insurance at ANZ, noted that today’s insurance customers have a wider view. “Our customers are now comparing us with other industries. ‘If I can book my cinema tickets through my phone provider and I get a cheaper rate, then why can’t I do my life insurance that way as well?’”

Speaking of other industries, one participant discussed how insurers would be able to provide better customer service if they teamed with banks and other financial institutions. For example, if a person purchases a flight to Paris on her credit card, the insurer could be notified and immediately offer travel insurance.

Risk is Less Risky

Some of the participants discussed how the disruptive nature of digital has increased risk appetite in the insurance industry, because it has made it possible to build in stages. “You won’t have the big, monolithic jumbo jet products any more. It will all be very small things, so you will only have to get half a million (dollars) to do anything,” said Sharon Nannetti, head of synergy delivery at IAG. “We are in an interesting situation where our board is very open to taking risks.”

Sharon went on to discuss being in charge of the disruption journey in a big organization:

When you’re reviewing small iterations, you only need enough governance and risk management to manage that piece of work…we’re working in an Agile way, but we still have a steering committee that we report to every time. But the way the organisation is going to allow for digital disruption is (with)….the minimal viable product…the minimal viable governance…the minimal viable everything. 

In an organization where business cases typically take three months, she was able to break this down to two half days with a bit of work in between.

Coming Soon…

Please stay tuned for the second part of this blog post, where I’ll discuss the attending C-level executives’ views on organisational harmony between business and IT, and the constraints placed by legacy systems. In the meantime, keep fighting the good fight to ensure that your organisation isn’t saying “no” to growth or change.

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