Tag Archives: financial risk

6 Key Ways to Drive Innovation

Insurers and intermediaries know that innovation has the potential to disrupt their current business and operating models. And they know that they need to innovate faster than their competitors to defend and grow their business. Yet few have found a winning formula for embedding innovation into their people, products or processes.

Feeling the disruption

The fact that new technologies, innovations and business models are changing the dynamics of the insurance market is clear. More than eight in 10 insurance executives responding to our recent survey, Innovation in Insurance, said that they believe their organization’s future success to be tied closely to their ability to innovate ahead of their competitors.

But with new entrants, new technologies and new business models emerging at an increasingly rapid pace, many insurers are also concerned that innovation will bring more disruption than value. Many are already feeling the heat. In fact, almost half of our survey respondents said that their business models were already being disrupted by new, more nimble competitors.

For some, the risk of disruption and the opportunity for competitive advantage is driving a renewed focus on innovation. In a recent interview with John Geyer, senior vice president of MetLife’s innovation program, for the report, A New World of Opportunity: The innovation imperative, he said: “If somebody’s going to disrupt our industry, it might as well be us.”

Indeed, new technologies are reducing losses and costs while saving lives and increasing customer satisfaction, reducing risks and driving new business models and consolidation within the industry. New advances such as driverless cars, machine learning, home sensors and “robo-agents” empowered with artificial intelligence and mobile payments offer a world of opportunity for insurers.

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The capacity and capability to innovate

While many insurers recognize the vast possibilities that innovation brings, many seem reluctant to be first out of the gate. This is not entirely surprising; most organizations responding to our survey reported that they lack the hallmarks of an innovative organization, such as dedicated budgets, formal strategies, executive-level support and measurement processes.

Even those that want to take first- mover advantage (as almost a third of our respondents’ claim they wanted) face significant challenges catalyzing innovation. In part, this comes down
to capacity: 79% of respondents across the globe told us that they were already running at full tilt just keeping up with their core requirements.

Capability is also a key concern. Lack of skills and capability was ranked by 74% of respondents as a top three barrier to innovation, particularly for smaller and mid-sized organizations and those based in Europe. Simply put, insurers know what they need to do to drive innovation but recognize they lack certain skills to achieve it.

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To be fair, most insurers have certainly been working hard to improve their innovation strategy and capabilities. Many have already implemented cultural change programs focused on fostering innovation and training programs to develop idea generation and innovation skills. Others have put their sights on widening their innovation ecosystem by engaging in partnerships with academics, FinTechs and other third parties to drive innovation. Some have even changed their business models or created innovation “hubs” or “labs.”

Lessons from leaders

Our experience suggests that while all of these previous initiatives are valuable, few organizations have been bold enough in their objectives or their execution to truly drive change. Based on our research, our interviews and our experience, we have identified six key ways that leading insurers are becoming more innovative.

  1. They are focusing on creating a customer-centric culture. While more than half of respondents say they have conducted a cultural change program in the past five years, our experience suggests that they may have focused their efforts in the wrong area. Rather than trying to become more innovative, insurers may instead want to become more customer-centric, which, in turn, will drive innovation.
  2. They are willing to disrupt their existing business models. Doing more of the same, only faster, is not a recipe for long-term growth. Leading insurance players recognize the need to innovate not only product and service development, but also how they approach innovation itself. Insurers and intermediaries need to be willing to try new models and partner with new stakeholders to truly compete in an innovation-led competitive marketplace.

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  1. They apply agile and dedicated leadership. Innovation requires leadership, strong executive support and clear vision. There’s no secret engine behind a door that creates innovative energy for an organization. It’s not about having the best game plan; it’s about having a coach who knows which players to put in the field to execute on the game plan. That’s how goals are scored.
  2. They mitigate risk by investing and experimenting. The best companies have discovered ways to link their investments to the expected frequency and severity of risks to ensure they are appropriately matching investment to risk. They have started to experiment with new business models. Looking at the viability of their current business model and the role of technology in their competitive strategy, they are also exploring new business models and businesses as the profile of risk changes.
  3. They understand why they are investing. While most organizations report that they measure their return on their innovation investments in some way or another, the leading insurers are working to ensure that they have the right alignment with business objectives and are broadening their metrics beyond simple financial ROI calculations to include more subjective measures such as public reputation or customer engagement.
  4. They learn from others. We believe partnerships will be key to future success, but we need the right structures, models and infrastructure to create value. Large organizations need to learn to partner, and all organizations need to learn to partner effectively. Consider alliances with partners outside of insurance to accelerate customer benefits and expand the value chain.

The road ahead

Our research and discussions with established and start-up players suggest that — to make the most of this new world of opportunity — the insurance industry needs to pivot from a traditionally risk-averse culture to one that encourages experimentation while mitigating financial risk.

To achieve this, insurers will need to tap into new sources of innovation, accessing fresh ideas from employees, customers, investors and partners, which, in turn, will require progressive leadership at the top of the organization.

The innovation imperative is clear for insurers. Now it’s time to make the most of the world of opportunities that exists for those bold and innovative enough to seize these opportunities to create competitive advantage.

Reprinted from (Regulatory Challenges Facing the Insurance Industry in 2016,) Copyright: 2016 KPMG LLP, a Delaware limited liability partnership and the U.S. member firm of the KPMG network of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”), a Swiss entity. All rights reserved. Printed in the U.S.A. The KPMG name and logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of KPMG International.

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The Dangers of Public Segmentations

Recently, it seems that developing public segmentations of your customers or citizens and then sharing it for all to see is becoming fashionable.

In part, this is to be applauded and welcomed.,/p>

The trend highlights a key tool within the customer insight toolkit, encourages greater focus on understanding people and embraces the need for greater transparency. However, there is also an inherent risk, that readers fail to understand the purpose, design and limitations of such segmentations and thus unwittingly apply them where they will not help.

This reminds me of a time many years ago when psychometric segmentations were very popular in business circles. Myers Briggs (MBTI) and many other profiles were enthusiastically applied and team members categorized into their “type.” Sadly, all too often, this perception about some important differences between team members was filed away following the team-building exercise and never used again. Screening interview candidates via psychometric segments was also “flavor of the month” at one stage, although I hear it being much more rarely used now (or only as part of a mix of “facts” to be considered).

Perhaps part of the problem can be a misunderstanding of the role of segmentation. As posted previously, segmentation is just one of a number of statistical tools available, and each segmentation will be designed to achieve a particular purpose. For this reason, more than one segmentation of customers may be entirely appropriate and insightful for a business that is able to handle such complexity (though most business leaders dislike this idea).

But let’s return to reviewing some of those recently published public segmentations. The first one I want to consider is the Consumer Spotlight segmentation published by the FCA.

While this appears a useful segmentation to help the FCA understand and focus on more vulnerable segmentation with regard to financial understanding or access, it is also important to recognize its limitations. A 10-segment model will only ever be appropriate for understand macro attitudes and behaviors. My own experience of segmenting consumers within different product markets tells me that both attitudes and behaviors can vary widely once you drill down to specific needs or products. So, it’s important to realize that this segmentation has been designed to focus on dimensions like vulnerability, detriment and financial risk. Thus it is most relevant for the FCA itself, to help target communications.

A second example is a commercial business taking such a public approach to sharing a segmentation. It is the Centre for the Modern Family segmentation funded by Scottish Widows.

This is another interesting segmentation, as it seeks to highlight and track changing social attitudes, family structures and pressures on modern families of many different types. However, once again it is important to realize the limitations of this survey. It is an attitudinal segmentation, constructed from a combination of “qual and quant” survey results, interpreted by an expert panel drawn from academia, social care and commerce. As such, this is a subjective perspective evidenced by self-reported attitudes and behaviors. Although such an understanding can be very rich, the inability to overlay this segmentation onto customer databases means that actual behavior cannot be verified or targeted actions or communications executed (often a drawback of attitudinal segments).

My final example is from the UK government. There are two I could have chosen here, as they have also recently published a segmentation on “climate change and transport choices,” but I’ve chosen to highlight the segmentation exercise published in regard to the problem of digital exclusion.

Once again, it’s encouraging to see this segmentation exercise being undertaken and the transparency regarding approach and progress. However, it does also appear to run the risk of a number of other “hybrid segmentations.” That is the risk that certain differences highlighted in various research studies or other sources are “cherry picked” to construct a patchwork quilt of apparently rich understanding that is not evidenced on a consistent basis. This can be seen in the infographic embedded in the above article. Even constructing a behavioral/demographic framework for a segmentation on that basis and then consistently surveying each segment runs the risk of masking important differences because of the averaging effect of artificially constructed segments. It will be interesting to see how government advisers and agencies avoid those risks.

I hope you found that interesting and are also engaged with the level of focus on segmentation in today’s government and media. If these are approached carefully and interpreted appropriately, they should be another driver of greater influence and seniority for customer insight leaders. That is our cause celebre.