Missed the earlier posts in this series? Start from the beginning here.
Warning: What you’re about to read should not be taken as gospel. In fact, I’m 75% sure that I’m at least 50% wrong, and I’m 100% certain I’m significantly under-informed. I mean, I’m so new to the insurance game that I really shouldn’t even be prognosticating like this… so keep your guard up.
And before I begin: To those of you shaking your heads at me characterizing this romance as “budding,” thinking it a disservice to decades of industry progress, OK I’ll give you that. Surely we can agree, however, that this love affair is far from mature. Insurance and technology may have moved in together, but they don’t even know what each other is really like yet. Like, technology is about to learn that insurance never replaces the toilet paper when it runs out… Yep, there are years of learning and adapting ahead in this relationship.
I got some advice upon starting this new job: “For at least 6 weeks, maybe more, don’t suggest anything. Don’t offer ideas, proposals, or suggestions. Simply listen and ask questions. Write things down, jot notes to yourself, but keep them to yourself. Let yourself be purely in learning mode. “ I took this to heart. I’ve been utilizing all my active-listening skills, asking a lot of questions, and I wrote a lot of things down. This sort of transition time is gold: One’s ignorance, wielded properly, can be endearing and can also be used as a “pass” for dumb questions.
My goal for all the listening and interrogation is to understand where the insurance industry is in its “technology transformation.” If we can do that, we can then compare to the other industry transformations I’ve been a part of – and possibly gain valuable insight. Part of my job is to help shepherd our independent insurance agency through this very transition. Doing this sort of comparison or benchmark could be very instructive. We might be able to better guess what comes next, what to watch out for, where and when to invest, etc. Standard caveats apply, of course: The insurance industry isn’t banking or retail or software, beware apples and oranges… and this is good to keep in mind, but there should still be value here.
To draw conclusions, one must have ample data. To that end, in addition to being the most inquisitive non-insurance guy at the agency, I jumped into the fire and did a tour of the “insurtech” conference circuit. We went to Agency Nation’s Elevate, InsurTech Connect, and a host of other smaller national and regional events focused on agency owners and CTO/CIO types. I made connections and asked more questions. I stretched my cold-call muscles and played the “new guy” card to meet with long-time industry leadership & simply listen. I know I’ve got a lot more to learn, but a fuzzy picture is beginning to form…
So, what have I learned, and where is the insurance industry in its technology transformation?