Tag Archives: Chief Digital Officer

What Does 2016 Have in Store for Us?

It’s the time of the year when we look back fondly at the year just gone and look forward with trepidation and excitement at the year ahead. 2015 was, all in all, a good year for most, with a number of significant events that saw a good end to the year. Weather, on the whole, was mild, with the UK floods over Christmas being responded to well by all. Regardless of the news/political agendas, we are still investing £2.3 billion into flood defenses over the coming years.

As we look forward, here are my thoughts on how we start 2016. What do you think? As always, I look forward to your feedback!

1. FinTech and InsurTech. 2015 will be remembered as the year of the zone, loft, garage and accelerator. This trend will continue with a new level of maturity and focus. We will see the emergence of the first three to four successful candidates from accelerators, as well as more failures (we need more to help hone the focus). Either way, this trend will continue upward as we look for the next unicorn and existing carriers worry about FOMO (fear of missing out).

We will see more acquisition in this space, too, where existing carriers acquire to improve or extend their value chain and reach — for example, as we did last year with Generali and MyDrive.

2. Evolution of IoT. The Internet of Things buzz has reached a fever pitch. (I’ve even written about it myself.) 2016 will be the year we all realize it’s just another data/automated question set, from connected homes, cars and fridges to the connected self. Focus will move to strong use cases and business cases, but anything here on its own will not survive. It needs a partner – or three.

3. Digital and data. 2016 will continue to be a big area of growth for both, and I’ve bundled them as I believe they are intrinsically linked. That said, if you haven’t done anything here yet, you are very late to an already crowded party. Both will continue with huge levels of interest and hype, but both need to move into genuine execution of the plans made last year. Ultimately, the only thing that matters here is the customer. Don’t just have a plan because others are doing it. It needs to be right for you and your particular customer segment.

4. M&A will continue but will slow. 2015 saw a record-breaking year for M&A in the insurance world. As the economic climate changes and we see interest rates rise in 2016, I see this slowing down, while the current set of newly combined companies focuses on bringing together the multiple new units into a cohesive, efficient, fighting machine.

5. Will the CDO survive? (By CDO, I mean either the chief digital officer or the chief data officer.) As with my first point, the focus and drive in these areas has been great; there has been the right effect and a wake-up call. However, for organizations that implemented these “change agents” and “purposeful” disruptive roles, I suspect we will see a move back to a focus on the chief customer officer.

6. New business models. To take advantage of all this data, technology, customer intent and more, we need to find and be clear on what the new business model will– and needs to– be.

7. What we buy and sell. We need to move away from a product mindset and become more relevant and more convenient – my two favorite terms when it comes to insurance. Rick Huckstep did a good piece on engagement insurance, which, to me, sums up how we better embed ourselves into daily life, rather than once a year or in the current cycle. This is where organizations such as Trov will come into play. Trov and others will be more integrated into our everyday lives, becoming more convenient, seamless and relevant to us, driving more engagement. From a convenience perspective, companies such as Cuvva made the news last year. This is just the start of things to come. The key questions are whether they can scale and whether they will make money. Peer-to-peer also made lots of noise; however, I think the same questions here apply.

I still feel we will move away from the current product mindset we have today to just buying complete cover for the individual and anything she does, regardless of where she is. I previously called this the “rise of the personal SME.” I expect to have insurance rather than five to 10 products.

8. Cyber is the new digital. While the last few years have focused heavily on digital transformation and data, this year will see a big shift in focus to cyber, both on the buy and sell side, with organizations moving quickly to not be the next headline for the wrong reasons. So, each organization needs to have the right measures in place, followed by the right cover. For carriers, this means new products and opportuniti,es with specialists including ACE, XL Catlin and Beazley already making strong moves.

We started 2015 by saying that the risk was simply too big to cover and finished it with calls for a government-backed reinsurance scheme for cyber, as we have already created for floods. Is it a real need or a political agenda? My view is that it’s a real need, regardless of the politics.

9. Partnerships and bundling. Like many of the points above, on their own, partnerships and bundling are significant issues and opportunities but perhaps don’t answer the key questions around relevance, engagement, etc. For this, I see a big rise in the partnerships between insurers and third parties or the orchestration/bundling of services that just happens to include insurance. Insurers could become the systems integrator for lifestyle services, by default increasing relevance and engagement.

Finally, let’s not take our eye off the here-and-now. Organizations will continue to need to run the ship, BAU is still BAU (business as usual). We must aim to reduce internal costs and inefficiency. Not one organization I have spoken to over the last year is not riddled with legacy and has clear ambitions to reduce costs and improve efficiency – all to further drive support for the year of the customer.

However we look at things, 2016 is looking like it will be an exciting year. I look forward to sharing it with you!

What Is Your 2016 Playbook for Growth?

CEOs entering 2016 convinced they can succeed by doubling down on what worked in the past may be reading from the wrong playbook.

According to a recently released Forrester/Odgers Berndtson study, “The State of Digital Business 2015,” most companies remain unprepared for digital transformation” — an absolute must for growth. Yet executives representing the diverse sectors examined in the study expect the majority of their sales to be digital by 2020. How will they get there?

If your transformation plan to capture at least a fair share of an expanding digital sales pie is not well underway, and you feel behind the eight ball, that may be for good reason – digital transformation leading to adopting a meaningful new business model or new technology can take years. And it demands operating along a different set of practices that used to work.

Growth is within reach of any CEO…

  • Moving at least as fast as the pace of technological change,
  • Delivering on clients’ growing expectations for real outcomes, and
  • Adapting to the shifts of economic and workplace controls to the millennial generation.

The CEO must be the Chief Growth Officer. Hiring a chief digital officer or chief innovation officer or someone else carrying a fashionable CXO title assigns daily responsibility for actions to close the digital gap. This can be a good move. The CEO cannot be everyplace at all times, and, besides, micromanagement from the top of the C-suite is deadly. When it works, this added role introduces skills, fosters enterprise-wide external partnerships, signals commitment inside and outside the organization and creates the digital blueprint for buy-in by colleagues. But the CEO alone has and must use his or her authority to coordinate growth levers and make the tough calls.

The CEO is also the Chief Culture Officer. Culture is not the job of HR or any other designee. Culture is the sum of the hundreds of choices everyone makes every day. People respond to the behaviors of their leaders. What do growth behaviors look like? Think about orchids in a greenhouse. Like orchids, new and different ideas are fragile and require special care. They may need protection from the outdoors – the conditions through which a mature business can operate, but that will kill a still-emerging concept. The CEO must advance a culture of a greenhouse, using governance to support both the work wherever growth businesses are being incubated, and a smooth transfer to the mainstream at the right time.

A lot has changed, but strategy is still the starting point for execution that gets results. Good strategy means having a clear view of where you are, an intended destination and a map of the terrain with a logical path to get there. Good strategy allows for good prioritization of short- and long-term moves, including the digital agenda. Strategy is still what gives all members of an organization a common view of goals. Strategy must evolve from what it has become in too many companies — a financial extrapolation supported by a sales-y PowerPoint presentation and ungrounded assumptions.

You must govern to engage and create accountability. Bring the whole C-suite into the act – no bystanders or anonymous choristers allowed. It’s a great idea to ask your CMO or CIO (or both) to lead the digital acceleration effort, but what about the rest of the C-suite? Put a governance process in place that fosters a constructive dialog with all of the CEO’s direct reports, including the P&L leaders and functional heads. Governance must reinforce that every member of this team has “skin in the game” to achieve growth results. No one is exempt from being part of the solution.

You have to update the risk/reward equation. Face it – the traditional American corporation was built to be predictable – to control risk. But nowadays, avoiding deviation from the status quo may be the riskiest path of all. I’ll paraphrase how Joi Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab, described the issue at a recent talk: To the corporate leader, downside risk is determined by aggregating variables that are stress-tested through complex analyses in an attempt to account for unknowns. And the potential of digital is full of unknowns, so it can easily be discounted down to where it is assumed to just have incremental impact.

But here’s a whole different view: To a venture capitalist, the maximum downside is the loss of 100% of his or her investment. That investment is meted out in small chunks as milestones are passed, so exposure is clear, measurable and contained. And the upside is viewed as exponential (though low-odds).

Food for thought: Reframing the risk/reward inputs and calculation can be a liberating and responsible course of action.

Digital transformation is a non-starter without the right talent. Seek evidence beyond the skills that seem urgent now but come with an expiration date — what matters is hybrid thinking, continuous learning and a record of delivering meaningful results. Is “fit” simply a euphemism for “people like me”? Go after your complements, and even some people who don’t fit your mold, but for whom you are committed to make room. The continued homogeneity of the faces on the “Team” section of most corporate and start-up websites in this day and age reinforces the untapped opportunity to invite others in and reap the rewards.

You must measure client outcomes. What gets measured gets done. And the wrong metrics stifle innovation. Applying yesterday’s metrics with blunt force is a death sentence for new ideas. The CEO must take a stand on how to gauge digital progress. Implement metrics that: 1. Align to the strategy. 2. Reveal how well you are delivering outcomes to the client (i.e., fulfilling the benefits that brought them to you in the first place). 3. Focus on how well the team is delivering results to clients. 4. Relate to drivers of the P&L and overall franchise health now and in three to five years.

You need to generate speed and momentum through constant progress in small chunks. It beats all-at-once precision that misses the market. Iterate, iterate, iterate, as fast as you can. Make live prototypes and show them to clients. Test and learn. Be flexible to new data and insight. The word “failure” does not appear in this playbook. “Failure” is something you bring upon your team when you don’t take the learning from a study, a test, a prototype, a client conversation and have it fuel the next improvement, however large or small, to allow you to move closer to success. “Failure” is what happens when the water cooler talk echoes with, “That doesn’t work, so we killed it.” A culture of “failure” has gum in its gears.

You must pursue three stages to finding your digital leverage: Step one: Identify the sources of revenue from new clients or relationship expansion (see above point on speed) and the drivers to win this business. Step two: Define the profit model. Step three: Go for scale. I worked under a CEO who set up this one-sentence approach during our early days of digital transformation: “Find the unit profit model and then see if you can scale it.”

You need to collaborate. Some people are wired to collaborate. Others are expert at advancing their own goals through silos. Evidence of growth effectiveness: an environment where colleagues build on each other’s ideas with the goal of shared success. Make collaboration a hiring competency that is taken seriously. Make it an expectation and demonstrate through your own behavior what that means.

Finally, you must get out there and get your hands dirty. We all learn by doing. Fast and valuable knowledge exchange takes place when corporates and start-ups interact. Corporates will find the speed, iteration and absence of failure as a concept inspiring. Start-ups are always looking for mentors and advisers with financial, marketing and operating experience. This quid pro quo can be the basis for a mutually beneficial and mind-expanding relationship. Make the meeting ground any space that is not a corporate conference room.

This post is also published in Amy’s regular column on Huffington Post.