As the leaves change color, the days grow colder, and the nights become longer, insurance carriers begin to plan for a new year. It is a process that starts with the promise of a crisp autumn day, but turns darker as familiar ghost stories emerge to dampen creativity, investment, and courage. Here are four common tricks and treats to consider as you plan for 2018.

Pig in the Python

Trick

A scary tale about the major project monster that devours all of the resources of the company, and must be the sole focus of work lest it fails to achieve its results and doom the company forever.  Never fear, in three, five, or six years, the beast will have digested its meal and then we can attend to these other well-meaning ideas.

Treat

To be successful, major projects do require significant attention and resources. But the world doesn’t stand still. Emerging intelligent technologies in analytics, artificial intelligence, robotics, and virtual agents can often provide very fast value with smaller investment and can improve on the overall value and quality of more foundational investments.  Good planning not only protects the large investment project but also recognizes that there needs to be some level investment for other areas as well.

The Data Swamp

Trick

Once upon a time, an insurance executive had a vision of a castle on a hill, where with insight and knowledge from internal and external data, she could make wise and just decisions for her employees, partners, and customers. But as she started to plan her journey, tales of the great data swamp of the company’s internal data emerged. “Whoa,” said the townsmen, “Why, we love your vision, so we must spend YEARS fixing the swamp and fighting the data monsters before we set out!”

Treat

Most carriers have challenges with their data. Data wasn’t properly captured, data quality is suspect, and data is often kept across multiple systems. For core reporting needs, this data needs to be addressed and fixed. But just because you are addressing core data needs doesn’t mean you can’t move forward with other data projects to provide insight and competitive advantage. Big data solutions can ingest messy data and allow indicative insights, analysis, and even applications to be developed that can drive real results. So yes, address the swamp, but don’t let that stop you from climbing the hill.

A Tale of Giants

Trick

Long, long ago, a brave insurance leader wanted to improve his kingdom’s performance by bringing knowledge and insights to his courageous underwriting/claims knights. He wanted to create 360-degree views of customers, property, and claims. “Hold on,” said the ancient priest. “Ours is but a small kingdom, dear sire; while your vision is grand, the treasury of our small kingdom can’t afford such intelligent solutions. These are only for the largest kingdoms!”

Treat

Large-data warehouse solutions traditionally cost carriers many millions of dollars to build and maintain. This provided a limit on which carriers could invest in large-scale data warehouse solutions. But that isn’t the case today.  Today with cloud based intelligent stacks and modern big data solutions, carriers with relatively small investments can start to gain advantage of powerful intelligent solutions that can drive significant benefits. Cost is always a factor to consider, but the value, speed, and price for these solutions will surprise you.

The Early Bird Gets Killed

Trick

While other industries actively pursue and tout first-mover advantage, those of us in insurance have heard the stories about how the early bird got the worm and then was crushed. The elders taught us that it is only the fast following birds that are wise and successful.

Treat

Insurance is historically risk-averse for good reason. Expand too quickly into a new line of business, industry, or geography in which you don’t have the right talent and expertise and you can get burned badly. But this caution has become pervasive at a time when the industry is changing rapidly.

 

Don’t let the October demons get in the way of your high hopes and dreams for the year ahead! Successful carriers ignore the tricks, and go for the treats!

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