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The Connected Business of Insurance

Survey Says: Insurance Agencies Progress Towards Digital Transformation

March 29, 2018

by Kris Hackney
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Technology is rapidly changing the world we live in. It has created a new kind of consumer who expects mobile access to information and online self-service from every company they do business with – and insurance is not immune. It’s critical for agencies to adopt a digital strategy in order to serve customers the way they want to be served. History shows us that failure to embrace digital transformation can put your business at risk of not surviving long term.

To better prepare agencies for digital transformation, Applied Systems recently hosted a Digital Transformation of Insurance webinar. During this webinar, we explored the drivers of digital transformation in insurance, how other industries have reacted to change, the opportunities technology provides agencies and steps to successfully navigate digital transformation.

I always like to hear from the audience during webinars, so we included a few quick polls to gauge where agencies similar to yours are in their digital transformation journeys. What struck me about the results was how many attendees have made progress towards digital transformation, and that obstacles still remain even for those who have made a strong start.

Here is a closer look at the poll results 

Question #1: What do you think of when you hear the term “digital transformation”?
As noted in the news daily and discussed at every industry event, the insurance industry is undergoing digital transformation. But what exactly does the term “digital transformation” entail?

In a world that is all about anytime, anywhere access to information, I was not surprised to see that most of our attendees associate mobile technology with digital transformation. However, each of these responses – internet of things, mobile technology, data analytics, going paperless and the cloud – play an important role in digital transformation.

Wikipedia defines digital transformation as “the change associated with the application of digital technology in all aspects of human society.” This definition covers three vital components of digital transformation:

  • Change: Digital transformation is not about simply making traditional methods faster and more convenient, but enabling new approaches to innovation.
  • Technology: Digital technology used to be computer-to-computer, but now it encompasses mobile, the internet of things, wearable technology and much more.
  • Human: No business is immune from digital transformation. It involves all generations and spans all industries.

Question #2: Where are you in the process of digital transformation?
Most leaders would agree that digital transformation is necessary, but vary with respect to which transformation stage they are in.

I was encouraged to see that a majority of our audience (81.1%) has at least made a start in their digital transformation journeys. For those not yet on the path to digital transformation, I understand that simply thinking about the implications of transforming your organization can be overwhelming. For some, taking those initial steps — deciding what digital transformation means to you, identifying necessary changes, setting specific goals, etc. — is the hardest part. For others, the challenges they encounter further down the road to digital transformation can hinder their progress. Which brings me to…

Question #3: What is your biggest challenge related to digital transformation?
For those organizations who have not yet “transformed,” we wanted to better understand the hurdles they are trying to overcome to achieve their goal.

I was not surprised to see that almost half of our attendees cited cultural resistance as their biggest obstacle. Many leaders fail to recognize that change takes time. Instead of preparing their culture for change, most leaders believe it’s best to move quickly and jump right into it. Unfortunately, about a week in, they realize they should have prepared their culture because they don’t have any support. You can change technologies very quickly in the right circumstances, but altering the way employees think about their roles, the business, and your culture doesn’t happen overnight. People must acknowledge and buy into the need to change at the most basic level. To help create a more receptive environment, include employees in the planning process then clearly define goals, roles and processes.

Despite what obstacles you’re facing, nothing is insurmountable and every challenge must be faced head-on to ensure a successful and sustainable business now and in the future.

Embracing digital technology for a brighter tomorrow
When you think about the core promise of insurance — to safeguard and protect what matters most in people’s lives — it is vital to use digital technology to ensure your agency will be there when your customers need you most.

For more insights into how to successfully navigate the digital transformation of your agency, watch the Digital Transformation of Insurance webinar I recently hosted.

Kristin HackneyKris Hackney, executive vice president of customer experience, is responsible for Applied’s customer delivery strategy and operational execution for the company’s Professional Services, Support and cloud-based solutions. She is the former vice president of Worldwide Enterprise Solutions & Services for Chicago-based SPSS Inc., a leading global provider of predictive analytics software and solutions, now part of IBM.

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