Property and casualty (P&C) insurance providers need to change the skills and attitudes of their workers if want to launch successful platform businesses. For most P&C firms, this is going to be a big challenge.

Digital ecosystems offer hard-pressed P&C insurers a huge opportunity to refocus their businesses and secure new long-term sources of revenue. To succeed, however, they’ll have to transform their workforces.

Platform businesses that operate across sprawling digital ecosystems require very different skills and attitudes from their workers than most traditional companies. For P&C insurers, many of which have entrenched systems and processes, the adjustment is likely to be enormous.

One of their biggest challenges will be preparing their workers for the relentless, escalating pace of change in the digital economy. As many as 84 percent of the insurance providers we canvassed agree that organizations are being increasingly pressed to reinvent themselves, and evolve their businesses, before they’re disrupted. However, few of these companies have comprehensive digital transformation strategies. Even fewer have plans to secure the skills and cultivate the work culture they will need to be successful in the digital economy.

The first step for P&C insurers looking to devise an ecosystem strategy is to define the roles they are going to perform in the digital economy. They need to know where and how they’re going to create value. Only then can they look at their workforce needs. The illustration below shows three main roles – utility, solution integrator and ecosystem orchestrator.

Insurance ecosystem strategy - utility solution integrator and ecosystem orchestrator - Graphic

P&C insurers then need to define which parts of the value chain they want to address. The spread of digital technology is separating many of the functions once integral to the insurance business. A horde of tech-savvy companies have entered the industry looking to capitalize on this fracturing by delivering innovative digital solutions that address specific links within the P&C insurance value chain. They include:

Product development: Friendsurance, Guevara, Metromile and SchutzKlick.

Acquisition: Facebook, Google and Overstock.

Policy issuing: AssureStart, BizInsure, Bolt, CoverHound, Dovetail, Everquote and Insureon.

Customer engagement: Analyze Re, Censio, Driveway, Insly and Insurethebox.

Claims: DriveFactor, Snapsheet, Estify and 360GlobalNet.

Established P&C insurers must decide whether these companies are going to be rivals or allies. Partnerships with such firms could enable traditional insurers to improve efficiencies by outsourcing parts of their business. They could also accelerate their expansion into new, more lucrative, markets such as protection services and risk management.

P&C insurers need to be clear about their ecosystem roles and which parts of the value chain they’re going to address. This will determine the type of partners and technology they’ll require and, just as important, the skills their workers will need.

In my next blog post I’ll discuss why insurers will need to build “liquid workforces” for their new platform businesses.

Meanwhile, have a look at these links. I think you’ll find them worthwhile.

Being digital: Embrace the future of work and your people will embrace it with you

The Digitisation of Human Resources: Digital HR technology comes of age

Technology Vision for Insurance 2016: People First

Learn more about this year's insurance trends in the Technology Vision for Insurance 2016 which takes a look at the primacy of people in the digital age.

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