Tinsights

TINtech Annual Report 2018

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TINtech Annual Report 2018

The TINtech annual survey reveals the technology strategy challenges facing business leaders both now and in the future.

This year, as well as a strong focus on the implications of emerging technologies such as AI, machine learning and robotics there is also a real appetite to ensure existing tools can create and deliver value now. The results also reveal the continued need to understand how you effectively manage technology led change, that is constantly evolving and has implications for current business and operating models …as well as the organisations culture. Finally, this report highlights the practical challenges that directors across the sector are grappling with and gives an insight into the progress being made on areas such digital transformation, meeting changing customer expectations and the constant pressure to reduce operating expenses.

As always, we have kept commentary to a minimum and put the insights from respondees centre stage.

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Automation and AI

By far the hottest topics this year are automation and AI. 57% of respondees ranked Robotic Process Automation (RPA) as either first or second most important technology to impact their organisation. Of those currently running POC initiatives over 90% said they included RPA, intelligent automation or AI projects.

It is worth pointing out that although these two topics are related the journey from RPA through to intelligent cognitive systems powered by AI is at its very early stages. However, “while the promise of automation has been around for years, the pace and the extent of its adoption in the workplace has significantly picked up over the past 12 months.” (McKinsey 2017)

From the survey results its clear that there is a thirst for practical examples of how this technology has been deployed and whether the business promise is now a reality.

Respondents asked for “lessons learned from automation at scale” and insights into the “practical use of Robotics” and in a wonderful mix of the technical and the colloquial “real world examples of where a CUI with a decent NLP is in play. I am not talking bog standard chatbots it is a step beyond that”.

This sentiment seems to resonate a lot:

“AI and where it is really making a difference. Is it proving a ROI etc”

or with another fantastic colloquialism:

“What are the transformative trends to look out for in AI and machine learning - and what's all sizzle without the bacon?”

 

Digital Transformation

Achieving digital transformation is a key strategic objective for organisations, with 76% agreeing that it is a board level priority. The majority of those that responded (82%) said they were at the start of their digital transformation journey with only 11% saying they were deep into their strategy.

However, the definitions of what digital transformation means for different organisations varies quite starkly and makes it difficult to effectively assess how far along the road we are.

For some, digital transformation is about, “getting the core offering and service right, and taking out low cost transactions”.

Others questioned whether transformation is the right word at all, and I think these responses are worth listing just to show the range of what people think we are actually talking about here. I think we all often get that sinking feeling when an article or a presentation starts with a definition, but in this instance it might be necessary!

QUESTION: Can you briefly define what digital transformation mean for your organisation?
  • Closer to customer, reduces the chain, increasing automation, improving analytics
  • Moving from our current method of trading to one that is undertaken by customers using AI and robotics
    where they can be of value. Always available and able to predict customer needs before they even realise
    they have them. Becoming a partner with our clients to improve their lives and commercial world
  • Empowering our customers and building the foundation for a digital future
  • Being brought kicking and screaming out of the dark ages
  • Removal of manual, paper-based systems and processes and bringing RPA and simple automation into as
    many places as possible. Removing 'swivel chair' operations for data entry
  • Good question. Ask ten people and you'll get ten different answers. Some leaning more towards
    the distributive end of the scale, others more towards the improving efficiencies side.
    For me though, as one of the leaders of driving digital transformation, its a mixture of new services
    and service efficiency improvements delivered through well considered and properly implemented
    technology solution(s)
  • The ability to interact on-line with our intermediaries and clients - to service their needs in a single
    digital touch, but also to provide seamless offline support as required
  • Be the LM Broker of choice in the digital channel
  • A lot of noise but little action. Don't understand their existing business processes or the impacts of change.
  • Removing all unnecessary key strokes and paper (specialty business). Enhancing customer experience
    with "live" information and instant response (retail business)
  • It really means ‘digital optimisation’ as there is no appetite to transform (i.e. do completely new things), however there is so much that can be improved through Digital I am happy to be focussing on Optimisation. In many quarters of the business it also means just ecommerce sadly

Many will find the assertion that digital transformation means “a lot of noise but little action”, but this sentiment was echoed in responses to a subsequent question of whether the board understands what digital means in its broadest sense.:

  • It is an evolving journey in which the importance is fully understood if not always the method or destination
  • Whilst we have undergone a massive IT Transformation, it seems that the motivation was more cost-saving than establishing a future foundation
  • The Lloyds branch of the business focus on Lloyds market and business, there is no real IT representative on the board.
  • Lots of expertise and energy; clarity of ambition; testing hypothesis and demand with intermediaries and clients
  • They are focused on the enquiry end whereas digital is everywhere and needs to be everywhere
  • I think the FS sector in general is way behind other industry sectors and will be all the time the main players still rely on old back-end legacy platforms. Introducing a new shiny front-end that still accesses those is not 'Innovation' despite what many sales people will claim!
  • They think it means online quote and bind services. Head office think it means a list of newer tech like AI etc
  • A tendency to think websites and quote / buy
  • Potentially it is understood long term but the investment plans may not be there


From these responses and the wider conversations we have facilitated at recent events it’s clear to me that a significant amount work still needs to be done to educate the board on the full implications of digital for their insurance businesses. Digital encompasses a range of technologies - chiefly mobile, social media and cloud - that are both changing the business landscape by reducing traditional barriers to entry for new entrants and rapidly changing customer expectations around service, speed and transparency. Digital change is not something that you do once and tick off – it is the new business constant that every director will need to grasp that if they are to survive, drive profitability and increase market share.

By far the biggest obstacle to digital transformation are legacy systems with 64% saying this was there biggest challenge. However, legacy is only part of the challenge. Organisational culture and leadership factors are also a key finding of the report with the inability to experiment quickly and a risk adverse culture being high on the agenda of attendees:

“A lack of understanding at board level, lack of business knowledge in the IT team and a general reluctance to change are the key challenges to achieving digital transformation. In my humble opinion the more brilliant and Brainiac the person, the less willing to change they can be”


Innovation

Innovation is usually sited as very important in tackling the challenges that digital throws at us and 58% said they had an innovation budget – but what is this budget used for? To try and answer this we thought it would be interesting to find out what your peers thought of the huge buzz phrase “digital innovation” and what it meant for their organisations – here are a selection we thought were insightful.

  • Fostering innovation in old organisations in a way that competes with startups
  • Why is 'Innovation' yet again a key 'buzz word' but very few are truly innovating their supporting IT systems?
  • Disruptor or disrupted - how to re-imagine your organisation and the data and tools available
  • Getting ahead of the competition and constantly evolving using digital platforms to do things quicker, faster and more efficiently.
  • Being brave to challenge old thinking and existing ways of working; being brave to test 5 things rapidly and being comfortable that 5 might fail;
  • If 'Innovation' still accesses old legacy platforms, then it is not innovation unless a strategy exists to move away from that too.
  • Tackling process and other inefficiencies (like we should have been doing for years) but also opening our eyes to the possibilities that these new technologies can bring and not to be afraid to experiment
  • Using digital to fix known issues or think about solutions in a different way

We’ll let you draw your own conclusions on whether you agree of disagree with any of these comments, but the wide range of answers of what innovation means to different organisations potentially points to a general lack of focus or direction – which it could be argued feeds into a risk adverse culture.

As one survey respondent commented to a question on what is hindering innovation with their company:

“Culture and buy in. We have a very traditional approach to business change – waterfall thinking, need 100% of requirements before anything can start, etc. Scepticism from senior business leaders based on passed performance of projects.”

This is important because if digital initiatives or POCs fail to deliver any positive change in the business and eat up valuable resources, it is hard to see how the current leadership teams will continue with the investment.

Innovation can’t be a separate team, unit or function, and it can’t just take place on a Friday afternoon in the pub – it needs to run through the organisation from the board, to your foot soldiers and back up again. There needs to be a framework to assess ideas and launch projects which can then be reviewed, refined and relaunch if needed…and fast.

But this has all been said before – perhaps now it is time for the those within the leadership teams with budgets to step out of their comfort zone and into the dynamic digital world.

One respondent summed this up very nicely:

“There are plenty of competent IT and business tools out there, with many competing in the same or similar spaces. However, it doesn't matter how good a tool is if adoption of its use is not forthcoming. This is where a good Business Sponsor is key, because projects rarely fail due solely to the tool, Project Manager or project team.”


Market Modernisation

For respondees from the London market many were keen to hear an update on the TOM and to get an insight into where TOM phase 2 might be taking us. It’s interesting that fewer chose the equivalent of defacing the ballot card than in previous years.

Having said that many are keen to discuss modernisation at a company level as well as at a market level, as reflected in some of these responses:

  • How to apply the LM TOM technology for a global carrier - i.e. what is the strategy for the London technology to be utilised globally?
  • Data Sharing in the London Market. How do we make this simpler and for the benefit of all (to ensure the market remains competitive) and how do we ensure use of modern tech like API?
  • Key business challenges being faced by the Lloyds Market and what emerging technologies could address these?
  • What can specialist insurers learn from General Insurers (often solution for general are overlooked by specialists as they can assume they only work for high volume low value transactions)

 

Closing thoughts

It strikes me that in many ways what we are really talking about is change management but looking at it through the lens of digital. Or to put that differently, if you get the technology right, you’ve only got one piece of the puzzle right – you’ve got to get your people on board and up to speed, and you’ve got to align processes and culture around your digital transformation as well as the technology.

“Managing change within an organisation, especially those project based in Digital Transformation, come up against a plethora of challenges and barriers - cultural, operational, budgetary, etc. What advice do you have to manage this?”

“Managing change effectively within the underwriting community, it is more than just the technology”

And finally I hope we’ll be able to at least partially answer this question, which I think in many ways very succinctly sums up what we’d like TINtech to be about:

“What will a COO be focusing on in 5 years' time?”

 

Footnote

Responses to “what are your two key technology priorities and objectives for the next 12-18 months?”
  • Integrated planning tools
  • Enhanced MI & Analytics
  • Open architecture - move from a closed architecture into an open and shared world
  • Customer self service
  • Moving IT platforms from SSP to Acturis
  • Remaining secure, having a workable incident response framework, education and budget management
  • Managing digital change
  • Improve the way we interact digitally with our intermediaries
  • Data quality tools
  • Integration of all key underwriting system functions to achieve straight through processing
  • Modernising the working environment (secure but high performing)
  • Tactical improvements to my legacy capabilities
  • Core applications -what are the technologies that can help these operate more effectively
  • Digitisation of our SME business
  • Leveraging Digital even more
  • Straight through processing
  • Reduced operational costs from enhanced processing
  • Shared data and reaping benefit from the real-time always available data
  • A true Omni-channel platform
  • Obtaining reliable MI for forecasting from legacy systems
  • Moving to Office 365 and Microsoft Dynamics (thats a huge ERP project)
  • Improving efficiency and client experience
  • Optimising distribution opportunities as intermediaries (and their clients) become increasingly tech-savvy
  • Machine learning
  • Cloud
  • Consolidating IT technologies and suppliers
  • RPA
  • Full remediation of my legacy estate
  • Integration of systems
  • Elimination of waste processes and automation of those that remain in place
  • Designing operations from the outside in, reducing costs through eliminating failure demand
What are the main challenges/obstacles in achieving these priorities?
  • Resource
  • Culture
  • Security barriers in terms of open architecture - how to do it and keep it secure in a cost-effective way
  • Solutions architecture
  • Budgetary
  • Culture
  • Inherent complexity in multiple legacy systems and multiple data source
  • Sponsorship
  • Budget
  • Lack of understanding at Board Level across the portfolio and at Business Sponsor level for Programs/Projects. Too many leave the Project Manager to steer who often have a too blinkered view on just the project and are consequently often too unaware of other business drivers, impacts and strategies.
  • Selection of solutions and time / budget
  • Brexit (consuming time and resources)
  • Funding
  • No particular barriers but keeping up with the latest most stable solutions is a challenge
  • Culture and mind sets of the teams
  • Conventional Command and Control thinking
  • Capabilities
  • Cost
  • GDPR
  • ROI - does the cost drive out enough benefit
  • New working practices in Teams i.e. lets not just lift and shift what we have now move to O365
  • Let’s take the opportunity and time to improve working practices, collaboration and teamwork
  • Oh. And ERP. Enough said
  • Operations - legacy
  • Change management
  • Board Foresight
  • The 'Big I Am' Project Manager type who think they know it all and don't seek guidance or expert knowledge when they should. A good Project Manager doesn't need to know the low granular detail but ensure that the project team as a whole do.
  • Culture/Fear
  • Credibility
  • Technology and architecture - challenging the thinking and assumptions around policy admin systems and how they can/cannot support a digital ecosystem.
  • Short termism and lack of recognition of end-to-end customer journeys


References

McKinsey (2017) ‘Automation at Scale is driving transformative change across insurance’ Available at: https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/digital-mckinsey/our-insights/automation-at-scale-is-driving-transformative-change-across-insurance (Accessed: 30 April 2018).

 

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