Take a look at the financials of the insurance industry and industry projections, and it may seem like business as usual. But peek just under the surface at many insurers, and you’ll find a great deal of activity aimed at transformation. Typically, this activity takes the form of strategic initiatives—enterprise-wide programs that require sustained commitment and investment.
Our research reveals that the top strategic initiatives remain virtually the same as 2015: customer experience, analytics, new products and core replacement. This is an indication that the commitment to transformation aligned with these four initiatives is rock solid. However, the manner in which these initiatives are being funded is changing, with more funding coming from new sources outside the IT budget. In 2015, about a third of the funding for strategic initiatives came exclusively from capital investments. In 2016, funding from new sources will increase to more than 40%.
These are the questions to explore: Why change? Why all the investment and resources devoted to rethinking and reshaping the company? The answers are straightforward. Many recognize that we are entering a new digital era, one with technology rapidly advancing and increasingly in the hands of customers and competitors. Emerging trends such as the sharing economy and the rapid adoption of technologies such as cloud and mobile are creating opportunities (and risks) for insurers. In fact, SMA predicts that the introduction of new products, business models and business optimization will accelerate as insurers leverage maturing technologies and capitalize on emerging technologies such as wearables, the Internet of Things and drones. Technology really is driving a lot of the conversation and action at the senior levels these days.
Ultimately, many insurers have a vision of building a company that is agile and able to respond rapidly to market opportunities and threats. The common threads running through the strategic initiatives are the need to be digital and the key role of innovation. Although not the end games in and of themselves, digital and innovation are the enablers that form the foundation for future success. SMA has created the Next-Gen Insurer Model to describe what the future insurance company and what any future success will look like. The 12 initiatives that many insurers are pursuing are the mechanisms that insurers are using to become Next-Gen Insurers. There may be choppy waters under the visible tip of the iceberg, but the activity is very focused and taking individual companies and the industry as a whole in a new direction. In the not-too-distant future— within five years. by our estimate—the visible part of that iceberg will change, as well, and a new industry will emerge.
SMA has just released a new research report identifying strategic initiatives, “Insurers’ 2016 Strategic Initiatives: Advancing Industry Transformation.” The report covers the priorities of these initiatives, sources of funding and their role in helping insurers attain the future as a Next-Gen insurer.