June 8, 2016
Digital Transformation is a popular topic this year as companies across multiple industries are working to engage their users and meet their expectations while using new channels and new tools. In the insurance industry specifically, I’ve had the pleasure of working with different carriers during the early stages of defining their Digital Transformation Strategy. Each time, I’ve been asked the same set of questions: Why do I need a Digital Transformation Strategy? Who in my company needs to be involved? What processes do we need to change and how deep do these changes run? Digital transformation can have a domino effect throughout an organization that stretches across different departments, processes and technologies. Having a strong understanding of the areas being affected before starting your transformation will help you set a strong foundation for defining your Digital Transformation Strategy.
Digital transformation starts with your users
Different users have different expectations from companies and, just like every industry, insurers face the same challenge of identifying those expectations. As more and more millennials are buying insurance, it’s increasingly more important to accept differing user expectations as a fact and make a concerted effort to learn about your users, their expectations and their touch points into your business. Millennial policyholders have expectations of self-service such as submitting a claim on a mobile device versus older generations who value the relationship and advice of an insurance agent. While the older generation may prefer to write checks for payments, millennials defer to online payments. Understanding your users and how they differ is key to ensuring that you are meeting your users expectations so they don’t exit your retention funnel and find an insurance company whose digital presence and tools align with their expectations.
Cultural transformation is necessary
At the core of many accomplished companies is collaboration, and successful Digital Transformation Strategies employ a collaboration between marketing, lines of business and information technology. Far more can be accomplished through the collaboration of these departments than with each department operating in isolation. Marketing typically has a firm grasp on user demographics, expectations and their acceptable touch points into the business. The lines of business have the strongest understanding of the business goals, constraints and processes. IT has the architecture, engineering and systems knowledge to realize the solution. The alignment and collaboration of marketing, line of business and IT from the inception to delivery of a solution is a cultural transformation essential to a having a successful Digital Transformation Strategy.
A successful strategy includes a business process transformation
Having a thorough understanding of the business challenges you are faced with and the business outcomes you are trying to achieve will help you determine which business processes will need to change when embarking on your digital transformation journey. While the business challenge itself may only affect certain aspects of your company, it is important that all stakeholders involved understand it and the desired outcomes. Furthermore, business processes may need to be improved to align with the modern application patterns and user expectations of new channels such as mobile, since many business processes were not built with mobile considerations in mind. To illustrate this point, if a user expects immediate results from tapping a button on your mobile app, and the back-end business processes are manual, you must improve the business process in order to achieve the desired business outcome, and, for that matter, your users’ expectations. Improving business processes will continue to have a domino effect throughout the different aspects of your organization and this is part of a successful Digital Transformation Strategy.
Your technical transformation should include a Bimodal IT delivery
The elephant in the room when discussing the IT aspect of digital transformation is addressing the multiple modes of IT delivery required for a successful Digital Transformation Strategy. The first mode is focused on running your business,“keeping the lights on,” and requires stability and rigidity, such as your systems of record. The second mode of IT is focused on quick delivery and agility in order to meet changing user expectations, such as your customer-facing online systems and mobile apps. Gartner defines this model as Bimodal IT and it is table stakes for a successful digital transformation. The concept of Bimodal IT is new to many companies and is one of the biggest challenges since many core systems were not designed to be accessed through new channels like mobile devices, but these systems still must be leveraged. In order to address the Bimodal IT delivery requirement of a digital transformation, a loosely coupled API and Integration Strategy is needed as part of a Digital Transformation Strategy. In order to achieve a successful digital transformation, accept that the Bimodal IT wave is real and in order to accomplish it, you need to define an API and Integration Strategy as part of your Digital Transformation Strategy.
Companies looking to transform their digital presence must accept a user-centric approach, collaboration between marketing, lines of business and IT, business process transformation, and Bimodal IT delivery as part of their overall Digital Transformation Strategy. Companies whose Digital Transformation Strategies includes these elements will disrupt expectations.