Tag Archives: digital natives

How to Attract Digital Natives as Employees

The need for insurance agents will grow 10% faster than the overall job growth average between now and 2026, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics  reports. Yet hiring in the insurance industry remains precarious, with only temporary periods of stabilization, The Jacobson Group  says.

As digital natives form an ever-increasing percentage of the workforce, this tech-savvy demographic will become the backbone of our organizations. Ed Kooijman, head of operations at 12CU, adds that many traditional organizations will adopt digital natives as leaders as a key strategy for getting ahead.

This gives rise to an important question: How are P&C insurance companies preparing to attract and retain a workforce consisting primarily of digital natives?

The truth is that property and casualty insurers face multiple challenges when it comes to recruiting and retaining digital natives. To attract digital native workers and stay competitive, P&C insurers are changing their approach in several ways.

Creating a Digital-Friendly Workspace

The term digital native is used to describe workers who grew up in today’s high-speed, screen-focused digital environment. When used in a hiring context, this term helps explain what millennials and Gen Z expect from the workplace.

As more digital natives occupy the workforce, adapting modern workspaces is a predictable response. In fact, workspaces have changed with every generation to leverage emerging technological assets and meet new demands, Nick Mason writes at OfficeSpace Software.

Nevertheless, the changes occurring in modern workspaces differ from those experienced by previous generations. Today’s digital natives expect to be able to communicate and collaborate easily whether or not they occupy the same physical space, PwC technology leader Antonia Cusumano explains. They want to collaborate to produce results more than they want to clock a specific number of hours in the work day or week.

Digital natives’ focus on collaboration and results has changed their view of the office. “The workplace is no longer a specific destination where employees gather,” CIO contributor Paul Chapman says. He explains that working is more about a mindset than a physical location. “83% of workers don’t think they need an office in order to be productive.”

To this end, insurance companies seeking to enhance their internal culture with the digital native perspective need technologies that match or exceed the tools these workers already use daily. According to John Mancini at the Association for Intelligent Information (AIAA), organizations that fail to adopt new technologies will struggle to attract and retain the industry’s best digital native talent.

See also: Winning With Digital Confidence  

Using outdated, siloed systems is confusing and inefficient in the minds of digital natives, IO Integration contributor Mike Watson says. This is especially true because millennials are well-versed in technologies that empower smart, dynamic collaboration across remote and in-person teams.

Making Information Easy to Access

The internet provides the foundation of the digital native experience and helps define their approach to the world. Marie Puybaraud at Work Design Magazine explains that cloud-based data, along with multi-platform connections, provide digital native workers with instant, streamlined access to social and professional networks.

This is why dark data, or siloed data that isn’t being used to make better decisions, can frustrate digital native workers. They’re accustomed to information being readily accessible, and they see this as a fundamental aspect of strong decision-making.

Digital natives usually see technology as a tool rather than a solution, writer Jillian Richardson says. Consequently, insurance companies that invest in the latest technology simply to do so may be pushing these workers away, rather than attracting them. A clear goal for technological tools like software platforms, along with a careful consideration of how the new technology will be implemented, can help companies create a digital and physical environment optimized for these employees.

It’s important to bear in mind, however, that while digital natives are comfortable with a wide range of technologies, they weren’t born with a complex understanding of cutting-edge tools like artificial intelligence or machine learning. Rather, digital natives have a lower learning curve for the technologies that are changing the insurance industry, says RapidValue marketing consultant Shuvro S. Sarkar.

Similarly, multitasking isn’t a skill that digital natives have developed independently of previous generations. Although digital natives’ willingness to attempt multiple tasks at once is often higher than that of previous generations, their ability to succeed at those tasks is about the same, according to an October 2017 study published in Teaching and Teacher Education. Workspaces that allow digital natives some quiet time and space to focus on a single task remains essential.

Speaking the Language of Digital Natives

Insurance is also uniquely poised to speak the language of digital native generations. Digital natives may possess a confidence with technology that previous generations lacked, but they are keenly aware of the uncertainties in the broader world. Addressing this uncertainty within the context of insurance can make digital natives more interested in pursuing a career in the industry, says Michelle Tucker, global head of analyst training at AIG.

“Insurance can provide some degree of certainty as a safety net supporting people’s lives and business pursuits,” Tucker says. “That idea really resonates with the individuals that we’re bringing into our organization.”

The uncertainty that digital natives face in their overall lives is, in part, driven by the technology they are so comfortable using. Many are concerned, for instance, that the jobs they pursue at the start of their careers may be eliminated by technology, says Richard Partington, economics correspondent at the Guardian.

This fear isn’t entirely unfounded in the insurance industry, says Peter Westerman, who works in product development at ALM. Highlighting the value of digital natives — and their ability to spot and implement insights that technology can’t replicate — is key to addressing these fears and hiring top-tier talent.

See also: Workplace Wearables: New Use of Big Data

In return, digital natives can help P&C insurers speak the language of their prospective and current client base. Younger generations are currently the most frequent users of new insurtech tools and systems, L’Atelier managing editor Sophia Qadiri says. Recruiting these natives can help established property and casualty insurers better adopt these customers’ viewpoints, making it easier to create the seamless digital experience this rising customer base demands.

Like the rallying cry that early internet and software pioneers declared, the internet wants to be free. Today’s digital natives don’t always see information as free, but they do expect the information they need to be readily available when they’re pursuing a goal on the job.

Attracting and retaining digital native staff can help property and casualty insurers better understand and address the changing world of insurance. To do so, these insurers will need to invest in technological tools that provide the information access and collaboration capabilities digital natives have come to expect from their technology.

Why ‘Modern’ Is No Longer Enough

Insurers, I have some good news and some bad news. Insurers have made tremendous progress in core modernization, purchasing and implementing new core systems and beginning to adapt their businesses to take full advantage of modern core systems’ capabilities. This is genuine cause for celebration – insurers that have made or are making these efforts are advancing their companies and our industry in general.

As insurers were engaged in these core modernization efforts, though, the personal lines market and technology itself have kept moving forward. A core system that was top of the line in 2013 may be showing its age unless it has been continually upgraded to serve the capabilities needed in 2018 and beyond. This may not be the most welcome news for those still thinking about core systems with an average lifespan of 10 years or more, but this is our new reality.

This is especially true for personal lines insurers, which are typically the first to catch the core modernization wave. They have also tended to be the leaders regarding new computing capabilities. It was true for mainframe systems, client servers, web-based applications. Now, heading into the new era of computing, it is true with computing trends like microservices and serverless computing coming to the fore. This is not technology for technology’s sake – insurers need to be able to handle an increasing number of transactions, including multi-threaded calls, and that increase is approaching an infinite number.

See also: 2018’s Top Projects in Personal Lines  

Further pressure comes from the insurtech startups active in the personal lines market. The original, widely known insurtech startups in P&C insurance were focused on personal lines. As the insurtech movement has matured, startups’ focus has widened to commercial lines and workers’ comp as well as crossing product lines. However, startups have been active in personal lines the longest, and those insurtechs that have thrived have gained market experience and are beginning to focus on organizational maturity. That means that for incumbent personal lines insurers, their insurtech counterparts tend to be comparatively robust and mature when compared with the commercial lines insurtechs I discussed in my earlier blog.

A key characteristic of insurtechs is that they are digitally native companies. That means that they are natively fluent, with enormous quantities of data and digital interactions, and their technology is geared toward this.

Core systems that can be described as “digitally native” have an edge in the digital market going into the future. Even though digital has been a crucial focus area for years, the insurance industry is still learning what a truly digital business entails – and what technology is needed to support it. Insurtech startups have given the insurance industry new examples of how to operate in the digital world.

Few core systems are built with the digitally native characteristics, but the core systems marketplace is beginning to adapt. Continued evolution toward open APIs and new data sources will provide insurers with the opportunity to interoperate with the new distribution channels and directly with the customer.

Whether you are a large insurer that is trying to support new digital brands and new product models (on-demand, telematics and others dependent on high amounts of data) or a small regional insurer trying to power consumer service portals, the key question is data availability and digital connectivity with the consumer and agent.

So, for insurers asking themselves: “Do we really need to think about modernizing our modern core systems?” the better question may be this: “Are your modern core systems digitally native?”

The Last Analog Generation (and Other Stories of the Dead and Dying)

The Last Analog Generation—let’s call them LAGgards—are departing, and in their wake a fascinating new world is emerging.

I’ve been surprised lately, when meeting with the nation’s leading financial service providers and discussing the tsunami of intergenerational wealth transfer that is upon us. The generation that is now entering (or will soon enter) the work force stands to receive something like $30 trillion of personal wealth over the next 20-30 years. That’s a staggering figure by any measure, but what’s really surprising is the apparent lack of preparedness and stunning dearth of appreciation for the opportunity – and potential threat – this massive wealth transfer represents to stalwart companies and even entire industry sectors.

For context, according to research, there exists roughly $230 trillion of personal wealth around the globe. That’s both financial wealth, like cash and its numerous equivalents, and real and personal property; the figure does not include corporate or public holdings. To give some sense of perspective to the enormity of that figure, just consider that the gross world product (the combined market value of all the products and services produced in one year by all the countries in the world) totaled approximately $85 trillion in 2012. Thinking about the number another way: To accomplish the transfer of $30 trillion over the next 30 years would mean that more than $1.9 million would have to change hands every minute.

By the time the last baby-boomer has shuffled off this mortal coil, about 13% of all global personal wealth will have changed hands in one form or another. Understanding some of the techno-societal distinctions between the bequeathers and the bequeathees should be a discipline required for anyone who aspires to make sense of the opportunities or threats attendant to the wealth transfer.

Because we develop a sort of digital life for the things in our users’ lives (by collecting and digitally managing all the information about those things), Trōv is becoming a technological bridge between the LAGgards, who were born before the digitization of everything, and the emerging generations who are indisputably “born digital.” In our interactions with users and the service providers that are precariously dangling between these two distinct constituencies, we are developing a sense for both parties. A couple of the big thoughts that seem to aptly describe what influences the perspectives of two groups are at once technological and sociological: the death of privacy and the power of information symmetry.  

Privacy is dead

LAGgards are concerned that their personal information remains private. Okay, this should neither surprise nor irritate any of us. However, the norms for what is considered private are being entirely redefined by the constant revelations of breaches (both nefarious and national) – and the new (ab)normal boundaries of self-disclosure regularly displayed on the massively adopted social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and their do-alikes.

Just take a peek (if you have the stomach for it) at Instagram’s ersatz cult of spoiled children referenced as #richkidsofinstagram. Photos are regularly posted depicting the profligate lives of a generation of an über-wealthy and unbelievably overexposed generation reveling in their latest acquisitive binge or imbibing impossibly costly libations.

As Robert Scoble, one of the oracles for the emerging generation of Digital Natives, intimated to me, privacy is all but dead, and it is no longer a core issue of the emerging generations. So what? Self-disclosure and widely available information about all connected people and institutions will make a profound impact on reputations: personal, corporate and governmental, and if you’re attempting to engage the new generation of wealthy, transparency is mere table stakes, at best.

Information symmetry — your advisor is dead (he just doesn’t know it, yet) 

Information symmetry will be the death of intermediated businesses. When Netflix started shipping CDs and DVDs to homes throughout the U.S. in the late 1990s, the writing was on the wall for the leading distributors of home video. And, as cloud storage and high-bandwidth digital pipelines became ubiquitous and increasingly affordable, Blockbuster (as a proxy for all things analog) scuttled its storefront retail business – bowing out because its distribution channel was obliterated by technology’s relentless march.

Retail auto sales have undergone a somewhat similar coming-of-(digital) age, as well. For years, LAGgards have been subject to the demeaning process of haggling over price, because details about costs were kept intentionally opaque, giving the salesperson the information advantage. (This imbalance in access to data is sometimes referred to as information asymmetry). The sales process was successfully upended when data from the likes of Carfax and Kelly Bluebook were made instantly accessible to anyone with an interest and a browser. 

For roughly similar reasons, LAGgards have grown dependent on trusted advisers, various specialists and brokers to make decisions about many of their important investments, risk, spending and even medical choices. Data asymmetry is at the very center of the LAGgards’ dependence on these data-equipped intermediaries, and models for business — even entire business sectors — have been built on its expected continuation. 

But make no mistake, these intermediated, information-unbalanced businesses are (or soon will be) in trouble; their added value questionable. With massive data availability, the information-scales are being leveled, and with instant, mobile connectivity, the generation-digitalis is no longer apt to transact or make decisions through a human intermediary. The generations of Born Digitals demand immediate, hands-on, intermediary-free access to nearly all aspects of their lives. 

So what? If your livelihood assumes that your clients will be dependent on you because you alone hold the magic elixir of unique information, beware. You might need to consider embracing the new models of info-egalitarianism rather than resisting them. 

To wit, we recently began testing an in-app capability to insure a newly acquired item at point-of-sale with literally the push of a button. This action alerts the broker-of-record to information that had been previously unavailable and carries tremendous customer-retention and quality-of-service implications (not to mention risk management and potential revenue upticks).

I have been perplexed by some brokers, who appear more concerned about the incremental work that this might create than the expansion and quality of their service. Powered by data accessibility, irrespective of our entrenched operations, the march toward disintermediation is inexorable.

Although these two ideas — personal privacy and disintermediation –- may appear to be distinct families of thought, they are much more than distant cousins. Indeed, they are utterly related and perhaps alone frame the most important distinctions between the LAGgards and the Born Digitals.  

If you depend on your intermediated services and expect them to remain relatively unchanged, you may be setting yourself up for incalculable risk (and you’re most likely a LAGgard). However, if you are comfortable with gobs of information floating around in the cloud and are adopting the tools that help you benefit, then you are likely going to survive the turbulence.

The opportunities arising from the merging of data and disintermediation are just becoming evident – and these trends will entirely reshape seemingly unassailable businesses and entire industries. 

As the fabric of personal information privacy becomes increasingly threadbare, the expectation for transparency in all segments of commercial life will be elevated to a prerequisite for any type of engagement. And as new generations of shoppers, investors and the “serviced” become less concerned about privacy and more connected to — and facile with — data, business as usual will be anything but.

(This article first appeared in JetSet magazine.)