21 February 2018
New technology offers a plethora of options, even – or perhaps especially – for insurers. But where to start? Should you carry out far-reaching research, for example? Definitely not, says Gerrit Vos, who gives his take on innovation in action.
In my recent blogs I’ve discussed new working methods and technologies, such as data science, agile working and smart data solutions. All of these are used by start-ups, scale-ups, labs and fintechs to develop innovative applications. More often than not, during the introduction of such an application, it will be hailed as a “disruptor”. Consequently, the term has become so overused that you’ll be considered a disruptor yourself if you fail to use it!
But let’s give credit where credit’s due: the new kids on the block are making intelligent use of research carried out by universities, social media giants and the big players such as Microsoft, IBM and Amazon. It’s thanks to them, that so many breakthroughs have been made, including blockchain, databases, machine learning and artificial intelligence.
What can these breakthroughs mean for existing companies? A lot, if you ask me – providing you remain open to them. You could of course, lull yourself into a false sense of security by kidding yourself that new technology won’t affect your industry. Just like the factory workers did in Detroit, and the printing workers in London. By the time they realised what the management had in mind it was too late, despite the best efforts of their trade unions.
How exactly do you remain open? It’s a question that’s facing many entrepreneurs and companies nowadays. But it’s hardly rocket science. What you don’t do is conduct extensive market research and set up a broadly supported strategic plan. No, you start by cherry-picking the low-hanging fruit and thus exploiting the short-term gains. Start small and simple and focus on the results.
Let me illustrate. Recently we helped a client analyse all the privacy data it recorded about its customers. Now it’s difficult enough to map out structured data, but this becomes even more difficult when that data is in the form of emails, documents on PCs or in archives, photos and videos, especially when it mainly concerns the latter of these categories. So what we did was to use a new platform, one with clear scope that provided an unambiguous end result. Within just two weeks we’d learned more than the equivalent of four months of desk research done by all employees. Now, this client’s employees are suggesting how this technology can also be deployed in other areas.
The answer then, is to start small and focus on the short-term successes, which will automatically lead to new ones. Learn from your competitors and follow what they share on the Internet. After all, it’s better to make a good copy than a bad original. Watch, think, and do!