Successful digital transformation requires the business leaders to take ownership. It cannot be achieved by Chief Information Officers, Chief Digital Officers or Chief Customer Officers on their own

Effective leadership is one of the most important facets of modern business. And many big insurers have thrived under the guidance of impressive leaders.

Of course, it’s not just the person at the top that matters. Effective leadership needs to be ingrained throughout the organisation. A lot of insurers are committing substantial resources to upgrading the leadership skills of their executives and managers. This has to be good for the industry.

It appears, however, that digital transformation is not a top priority on the leadership agenda. Many insurers seem unsure about who should be driving their digital strategies. Given the huge importance of digital transformation, and its impact throughout the organization, this is a serious concern.

Digital Transformation In The Age Of The Customer: A Spotlight On Insurance CoverJust under half of the insurance leaders canvassed recently by Forrester Consulting report that the CEO is responsible for their organization’s digital vision and strategy. However, 27 percent point to the CIO and a further 8 percent identify the chief digital officer.

The Forrester research was commissioned by Accenture and spanned around 100 insurance leaders across the world. Its examination of leadership in digital transformation found there is little consensus on who should be responsible for carriers’ digital vision and strategy. Twenty-seven percent of respondents recommended the CIO. The CEO was the choice of 26 percent, the chief digital officer or an executive with similar oversight got the backing of 20 percent, while 14 percent recommended the chief strategy officer. This is quite a divergence.

So who should be steering the ship? Digital leadership has got to come from the top – right at the top. The CEO and the executive team have to set the vision, define the strategy and then oversee its implementation.  There’s no doubt that that balancing digital transformation with the everyday demands of running a business and meeting stakeholder expectations is a major challenge. But this doesn’t change the fact that such executive involvement is a key ingredient for success.

Digital transformation is not just about technology. It requires a complete reorganization of the whole enterprise – its people, systems, processes, products and partners as well as its technology and data resources. Such radical change can only be achieved by top leadership.

In my next blog I’ll discuss another potential pitfall insurers must navigate on the road to successful digital transformation. Until then, take a look at the full report. I think you will also find these other links interesting.

Digital Insurer: Seizing the Opportunities of Digital Transformation

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