Two Perspectives Enabling Stronger Strategic Options For The Insurance Industry
Getting down to basics about the insurance industry, how might someone perceive or reperceive the industry from a strategic perspective? Strategy, for me at least, is what a company does to differentiate itself uniquely from its competitors. That’s why I don’t consider core administrative systems (or one of the components of a core administrative system such as billing) to be strategic. But that is a post for another time.
The purpose of determining a perspective is to help identify those strategic elements to truly differentiate one insurer from another. It’s very much like people majoring or being expert in multiple disciplines. Reperceiving enables a fresh view; a new view; a different way of thinking.
I suggest there are, at least, two perspectives insurance companies should use when considering how to create or enhance their strategies. One is an information perspective and the second is a media perspective.
We all know that insurance is an information-based industry (not information intensive but information based). So, how might an information perspective help an insurance company differentiate itself from its competitors? Well, an insurer with an information perspective should:
- Understand that information must be shared throughout the enterprise and realize that information silos are barricades to success
- Craft an initiative to ensure that information is cleaned as it comes into, flows through, and streams outward to any and all parts of the value chains that encompass insurance decision-making and operations
- Realize that information is just not all of that structured stuff being held (sometimes held hostage) in the various databases in every functional area
- Set a higher priority to monitor, manage and act on unstructured data whether that is text, pictures, sound or video
- Create strong search and navigation throughout the information streams for both internal staff (and I would include agents and brokers in this category for the purposes of our current discussion) and external stakeholders
- Create an information council made up of people from each business department
What would you add to this list if an insurer wanted to perceive its strategic objectives through an information perspective?
Then there is the media perspective. Of course, it is highly interdependent with the information perspective. However, an insurer that applies a media perspective would do best if it realizes it is both a consumer and publisher of information. So, the insurer would:
- Identify the media (or information channels, if you prefer) that information is produced (published) and consumed throughout the company value chains
- Look to actual media companies that are successful (e.g. Google or Amazon) and determine which processes, if any, can be repurposed for the insurance company (if the insurer is stumped at this point, they can just ask those stakeholders like their own staff or their agents or brokers how they would prefer to receive information)
- Augment their own media capabilities with existing social networking web sites (e.g. LinlkedIn)
- Begin to apply rich media authoring capabilities (e.g. Adobe’s AIR) to package and present information in a way that is more easily acceptable (not that the long, dry procedure manuals are not exciting and interesting in their own right)
- And as above, there are a host of other ways that an insurer could reperceive itself strategically by thinking of itself as a media company
What would you add to this list of media perceptions for an insurance company to consider?