At the June 2015 TINTech, I was fortunate to be present at a workshop given by Steve Sweeney of  He was sharing his experiences around the company’s approach to being an omnichannel organization, and I was struck by the significance of creating an architecture from the ground up that is flexible enough for the business to be targeted and customer focused.   Of course, not all organizations have the luxury of being entirely without a legacy burden— particularly the longstanding insurance industry.  But in the digital age, there are new ways to take advantage of new platforms and new business models.  In short, digital insurers can run their own businesses with the agility of a start-up.

Adopting a start-up mentality is not without its challenges. A recent Accenture survey among 700 business leaders found that the majority (59 percent) said the greatest competitive threat to profitable growth came from large digital players and start-ups.[1]   If we look at the growth of the nimble market players, we can see why they are right to be concerned.  Take a company like Spotify, launched just seven years ago and now with 20 million paying subscribers and 75 million active users.[2] Here’s a company that knows a thing or two about reacting quickly to customer demand and gaining light speed to market.  Andrew Hager from Spotify was reported as saying that the music streaming organization stays lean and mean by dividing up its business into small clusters—which it calls squads—and running each like a start-up in its own right.   With never more than a 100 people, related squads are grouped into tribes—say infrastructure, or music player tribes. These behave as “incubators” for the startup-like squads, an approach that helps the company remain agile and scale fast.[3]

The ability to be this reactive—or proactive—needs an IT environment that can run at multiple speeds—fast and super-fast! Good governance is often behind that lightning speed.  Adding a new question set to a product must be not only timely but robust enough to withstand take up and offer continuity to the services offered.  As an example, Accenture Duck Creek software customer First Central CIO, Pete Johnson, has this to stay about the Duck Creek ratings engine: “We add a new ratings factor into our mode on roughly a monthly basis. The flexibility of the ratings engine allows us to do that.  Usually making a change within an IT system can be quite difficult—with other similar products there can be a three-month lead time.  But with the Accenture Duck Creek solution, you don’t need to rely on IT professionals to make the change.”

Find out how to gain agility in your insurance business—and begin to satisfy the desire to be all things to all people.

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[1] Source: Being digital: Fast-forward to the right digital strategy, Accenture, 2015

[2] Source:

[3] Source:

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