Property and casualty (P&C) insurance providers, eager to build platform businesses to bolster revenues, require liquid workforces that can excel in the fast-paced digital economy.

The new generation of platform businesses, hosted on multiple digital ecosystems, will demand fresh skills and competencies from workers.

P&C insurers, eager to capitalize on the huge potential of platform businesses, must beware of neglecting these new human capital requirements. Without the correct skills and culture, digital businesses will struggle to survive. Around 44 percent of the businesses leaders we surveyed acknowledge that a lack of skills is a barrier to digital transformation.

Furthermore, insurers that can properly prepare their workforce to excel in a digital environment will gain significant competitive advantage. The pioneers of successful platform businesses, such as Apple, Amazon and Google, have all created workforces that are closely aligned to their digital strategies.

In my previous blog post, I described the first steps P&C companies need to take to get their workers ready for the platform economy. These firms must be clear about the role they want to perform within digital ecosystems and they also have to identify which parts of the insurance value chain they want to address. This will enable them to define the skills they need.

Now here’s the next step: P&C firms must radically change their attitudes to their workforces. The shift to digital ecosystems, and the building of platform businesses, don’t require a skills swop. They demand a complete rethink about how workers are engaged, developed, managed and motivated.

Specific technical skills and competencies are certainly necessary for new platform insurance businesses. But they’re going to be deployed in an environment that is very different from traditional workplaces. It’s an environment that will be distinguished by rapid and often unexpected change; high levels of interaction between workers, customers, partners and intelligent machines; extensive devolution of authority and decision-making; and constant, widespread development of skills and expertise. Traditional workforces are usually hierarchical and job-specific. The new workforces tailored for the digital economy will be fluid and project-focused. We’ve termed them “liquid workforces.”

The illustration below shows the fundamental changes that underlie the transition from conventional to liquid workforces.

P&C insurers need flexible and responsive liquid workforces to make their platform businesses soar_Jones (Figure 1)

This is a huge shift. But plenty of insurers already recognize its importance.  As many as 78 percent of the insurers we canvassed agree that more fluid workforces will improve innovation. And 80 percent acknowledge that workforces in future will be more often structured around projects than job functions.

In my next blog post, I’ll discuss how insurers can transform their current workforces into liquid workforces.

Until then, take a look at these links. I’m sure you’ll find them useful.

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

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