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January 5, 2021

Tapping Cloud’s Ability to Drive Innovation

Summary:

There are three key forces that the cloud can unleash: speed of operations, an intelligence premium and innovation.

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As insurers accelerate their digital transformation and customize solutions in areas like customer engagement and data management, they are realizing that they must overhaul traditional approaches and infrastructures and replace them with forward-looking, cloud-enabled solutions.

Instead of looking at a set list of projects or deliverables and identifying how cloud infrastructures can help efficiently tackle them, leaders need to look holistically at the various benefits that such systems can deliver – both in the short and long term – and focus on the myriad of forces that the cloud can help unleash. 

Cloud-Powered Forces

Three key forces that the cloud can unleash are speed, the intelligence premium and innovation.  

  • Perceived speed — This is the most compelling cloud force. Not too long ago, IT departments had to order equipment, navigate shipping delays and gaps in available inventory and then spend weeks receiving, installing, configuring and testing. This protracted timeframe caused major corporate initiatives to stall. In the cloud world, wait time is no longer part of the equation – the expectation is that you can get up and installed within hours. 
  • Improved learning process Smart, ambitious people can learn from various cloud courses (online even). People don’t need their manager to approve the cost or time for a corporate-backed training course and endure other impacts of bureaucracy. They can soon have the knowledge needed to leverage the cloud’s potential to build and do new things.
  • Innovation acceleration — Combining smart internal resources with a powerful cloud provider can greatly accelerate innovation.

Identifying the Right Cloud Partner

Once insurers appreciate the potential of the cloud, the next step is identifying the right partner, which will drive an organization’s core cloud infrastructure and therefore be an important collaborator in innovation. At Security Benefit, we recently decided to go all in on AWS, and that’s been great for us. In discussions with AWS employees, we hear all the time that “it’s always Day 1,” which speaks volumes to the provider’s innovation culture. 

Embracing innovation is important for acquiring talent. Prospective employees – junior and senior alike – want to know that they are landing at a place that champions groundbreaking ideas. When a company is leveraging the cloud’s capabilities, that organization is suddenly attractive to a larger pool of talent. This, in turn, compounds future opportunities for innovation.

See also: Data Security to Be Found in the Cloud

Overcoming the Hurdles During the Transition

Technology leaders should expect some challenges when making a transition to the cloud. While most people think that the biggest challenges they will face will be around compliance and regulation, that is not always the case.

In fact, the biggest barrier in a company’s cloud transition journey can be IT leaders who struggle to change their thinking. Some believe that cloud infrastructures are “just what we have always done, it’s just in another data center,” or that “we already do virtualization as we have a private cloud, so we know this.” That thinking can keep an organization from making much-needed upgrades.

The leading cloud providers today have changed some paradigms of technology. Even infrastructure experts may struggle with the change. Roles and responsibilities may need to be realigned to place the leadership duties in the hands of those with the right skill sets and mindsets.

A cloud-based infrastructure certainly has the potential to enable speed, collaboration and cost efficiencies, while delivering new levels of options and enabling transparencies. To make the most of the possibilities that cloud unlocks, insurance businesses must prioritize the right mix of internal teams and external partnerships.

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About the Author

John Keddy is the CTO and CISO of Security Benefit. He has held multiple IT leadership and consulting roles in financial services, including roles at Chubb, ING and Aflac.

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