Transformation by design: Know where you’re going before you start

I’m a pragmatist at heart. When I get in the car, I want to know my destination before I start the engine. Others might be okay with a more random approach – hop in, head in one direction and adjust along the way.

For me, there’s risk in that approach. While you might start off in the right direction, you may later find you have to backtrack – which can cost time – or discover that the destination is no longer available to you.

Maybe that’s why the phrase “transformation by design,” shared by Duck Creek CEO Michael Jackowski during his Formation ’19 keynote, appealed to me. This idea of transformation by design speaks to change, but managed change. Planned change.

It acknowledges the urgency for change and transformation, but emphasizes the need to approach it strategically to ensure success. To ensure you end up where you want to go.

Transformation by design

That idea, so important in this era of digital transformation and InsurTech innovation, echoed throughout the show’s keynotes and presentations. Jackowski kept things going by addressing insurers’ struggle to keep both technology and business evolution in sync as they strive for transformation.

His definition of transformation by design? Don’t change for the sake of change, but as part of an overall digital strategy created equally by business and IT.

Why equal parts? Because transformation requires not only new business processes, but new ways of thinking and a fresh approach to everyday business.

Jackowski even suggested approaching change by assuming everything you’re doing is wrong. In other words, look at your business and IT processes, even your line of business and legacy systems, and give them a harsh review. Is the status quo really the best way to do things? Or is there a better way?

And even though you might use a critical eye in that review, also approach it with a sense of excitement of wonder. How can we make things simpler and more efficient, for our employees and our customers?

Embrace the simplicity of thoughtful transformation

Darryl Catts, CIO of AXIS Insurance, carried the torch for cooperation between the business and IT sides of the house. Start by defining the problem from both a business and technology viewpoint and then make sure stakeholders on both sides agree on what success looks like, he said. This will often avoid the very common practice of acquiring technology first and then searching for a problem the technology can solve second.

This approach is how AXIS built its digital strategy. It built its plan on two pillars: “define the problem” and “agree on success.”

It was as simple as that.

Maybe you should ignore what your peers are doing

I found Catts’ comment on simplicity intriguing, and was fascinated by the advice of Mike Fitzgerald, senior analyst at Celent: Ignore what your peers are doing.

While Fitzgerald didn’t use those words exactly, it is how I interpreted his message. And it makes sense. Many insurers fall victim to operating in an echo chamber. In other words, they determine how well they’re doing by comparing themselves alongside other insurance companies.

This is a flawed approach, Fitzgerald said, especially considering the overall dissatisfaction many insureds have with their carriers. Insurance companies should benchmark how well they are meeting customer expectation by looking at organizations outside their echo chamber. For example, you can look at successful companies like Amazon and Zappos, both of which conduct nearly all of their customer interaction digitally.

Just remember insurance doesn’t sell shoes, he said. In other words, insurers can learn a lot by understanding how successful organizations in other industries meet customer expectations. But application of those learnings should always be driven by your defined digital strategy and business goals.

You don’t have to go it alone

Overall, the show taught me that the insurance industry’s digital future will reward those companies that can apply a smart digital transformation strategy and implement the right technology. Technology that will both uncover insight in expanding sources of data and quickly develop and deliver innovative products that meet their customers’ needs and expectations. This will likely require replacing slow, inefficient and siloed legacy systems with modern platforms designed for an open world and built for change.

It’s a journey insurance companies don’t have to travel alone. And they certainly should know their destination, and how to get there, before they start the engine.

By partnering with innovative companies like Hyland and Duck Creek, insurance organizations can design the transformation strategy that works best for them. One that is simple, strategic and with the customer experience top of mind.

Discover more by downloading the ebook “A Platform for Change: Duck Creek and OnBase.”

Jeff Hiegert is a senior customer advisor for the insurance industry at Hyland. His primary responsibility is to help Hyland’s insurance customers and prospects identify and achieve the most business value from their investment in Hyland solutions. Jeff also leverages his 25+ years of experience in the insurance industry, along with his extensive background in process and content management solutions, to help drive Hyland’s vision and roadmap for insurance specific solutions, features and functionality. He attended the University of Missouri in Columbia, MO, and has spent time living in Greenville, SC, and Austin, TX. Jeff now lives in his home town of Kansas City, MO, with his wife and daughter. He’s an avid golfer, sports fan and lover of outdoor cooking.
Jeff Hiegert

Jeff Hiegert

Jeff Hiegert is a senior customer advisor for the insurance industry at Hyland. His primary responsibility is to help Hyland’s insurance customers and prospects identify and achieve the most business... read more about: Jeff Hiegert