Many insurers are introducing new IT systems and applications at a rapid pace, as well as going through mergers and acquisitions and divesting or acquiring divisions, and Frazer Walker Principal Consultants Mark Partridge and Glenn Vade are offering tips on how to achieve the best outcomes.
The Sydney-based pair, who have overseen transformational change programs at major insurers, say there are game-changing opportunities via use of machine learning, artificial intelligence and other technologies to use the data insurers hold for better business outcomes.
Insurers must get closer to the “granular level of data analysis” or they won’t survive, Frazer Walker says, and need systems that can absorb, interpret and analyse this underlying data.
“Insurers without a sound knowledge of implementing transformational change will become dinosaurs as nimble disruptors use technology to their advantage,” Mr Vade said. “Be disruptive. Insurance is changing rapidly and there’s the potential for many companies to be left behind.”
Frazer Walker says insurers must navigate a rocky pathway as the industry undergoes radical transformation, including adjusting to legislative and regulatory changes. It is vital when bringing two insurers or divisions together to acknowledge each has a different culture – and the power ratio is never 50:50, Mr Vade says.
“Don’t go in with all guns blazing,” he says. “There may be existing landmines and an adversarial attitude could lead the people involved to not disclose them.
“Show empathy, as that always works in your favour, and you’re more likely to gain information that can help you see any potential red flags and discover the optimum solution.”
The solution may be a whole new IT system, he says, though old technology may just need a better interface.
“You need open-minded people who can see the bigger picture and focus on the best outcome for the new entity, not protecting their patch,” he says.
A dedicated team, overseen by an independent, external consultant, can speed the process, and an external adviser has no conscious or unconscious bias so can objectively present the pros and cons of each approach and provide options.
“The preferred option may not be the most palatable to some, but you reach a point where an executive-level decision is required,” Mr Vade says. “The three levers are time, money and quality and there’s always a trade-off. “
Data migration is one of the trickiest issues, particularly with two homegrown systems that may be incompatible. “Sometimes it’s better to jettison both systems and get something off the shelf so both data sets can be merged into the new one, using well designed and tested data staging areas.”