Tech Talk – October

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Let’s talk change. When selecting a new technology, there’s typically a great deal of effort expended in four areas: 1) validation that it fits the core business need, 2) assurance that it will play nicely within the existing ecosystem of systems and tools, 3) alignment of cost to budget, and 4) technical support readiness for the task of managing it. The usual focus is to ensure that this new puzzle piece fits neatly inside of the existing boundaries of the business, but it shouldn’t just sit in a nice little pre-carved niche. If it’s truly innovative, it should push and re-shape those boundaries to transform the business. That’s why transformation and innovation are often paired terms in org structures and job titles: you don’t have to innovate to transform (think comp models to drive a change in revenue mix, new LOBs/geos, etc.), but any true innovation absolutely necessitates transformation. 

To unlock transformation potential, you must delve deep into business processes. If the goal is simple automation of a basic task, the discovery and discussion is fairly simple. However, it still merits exploration as the data flows and “hand-offs” will change. Claims Operations won’t get their information in a daily email from upstream teams and summarize it for leadership; they’ll instead need to log into a system to check the dashboard and communicate key insights. For certain claims, field adjusters will no longer take and submit photos after assignment; desk adjusters will review photos submitted by the insured at FNOL. Ownership increases or shifts only slightly, but that should never be a post-implementation surprise to those affected by the change, and too often it is. 

The more radical the innovation, the more important it is to take a time out before proceeding to fully uncover the complete scope and impact. Fully map the current and projected data flows and document any changes to the nature of the outputs, then overlay the current business process flows. There may be intermediary elements of the business process that don’t map one-to-one against what’s happening behind the scenes internal to your systems. You may identify unexpected stakeholder groups. That’s all OK because this exercise should be as detailed as possible. Once complete, all parties should be clear about what each stakeholder group does today and what they’ll do tomorrow. 

When working through the impact analysis, everything uncovered should prompt the question, “Why?” It’s time to ask why your organization does things the way it does and if it’s truly the best way to operate. Overlaying stale business process on top of innovative tech is the fastest way to subvert the intended benefit of the investment. One more time for the folks in the back, overlaying stale business process on top of new tech is the fastest way to subvert the intended benefit. It’s impossible to overstate this fact. Every single detail of the “why” needs to be held up to the light and critically examined with all stakeholders present to get as many points of view as possible. If the process isn’t changing but the tech is, that’s your divining rod pointing to where to probe relentlessly. 

Case studies: I’ve seen companies move to cloud but keep their brick-and-mortar data center compliance framework. Security and compliance teams weren’t brought along in change planning, so their process controls didn’t accommodate modern cloud security options like a self-learning WAF with traffic analyzed off-site. In risk averse companies, which most insurance firms are, it can take longer to modify the business processes around compliance than it does to implement the full solution. Closer to home, our customers often come to us with set ideas about claims segmentation, resource pairing, and a host of other triage and assignment constructs. Once they delve into the art of the possible with new technology, there’s a light bulb moment . . . they realize they were operating within former constraints that no longer apply. That’s the turning point you’re seeking – the moment when technology innovation truly becomes business transformation. 

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