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Digital Transformation to Build Back Better



In the age of disruption businesses live and die by their ability to adapt which is why digital transformation within the insurance industry remains critical on the strategic agenda for growth and sustainability. Rising customer expectations, ageing populations and workforces, declining market size, intensifying competition and closer regulatory scrutiny add further complexity to the insurance industry for the next several years. Deloitte’s research and industry outlook for the next decade highlight that while the map of the industry’s reality is that insurance firms need to adapt to maturing markets and ongoing economic turbulence, navigating the territory of the synthesis challenge may be the key to success. The report highlights that to overcome this challenge is the effective integration of innovation in technology, talent, and business models into change resistant environments and the ability to navigate it may prove to be the biggest determinant of the industry’s success in the next decade.

A recent webinar hosted by Cardinal Insurance Management Systems (“Cardinal”), one of the industry’s leading technology service providers, brought together Aon Plc (“Aon”) and MUA Insurance Acceptances (Pty) Ltd (“MUA”) to participate in a learning exchange for the insurance industry to explore the complexity of digital transformation to address the industry’s biggest challenge, but also its biggest opportunity.

“While digital transformation has become a buzzword, there is the possibility that it can mean different things to different insurance firms. But the truth of the matter is, no matter how big or small your insurance business is or in what niche you operate, you must be on a digital transformation journey if you’re going to weather the storms now and into the future.”, comments Craig Grasko, Commercial Director of Cardinal.

Significant barriers remain a challenge with most insurers not equipped to move at the speed of digital developments in addition to having the workforce needed to thrive in the industry’s next era. “The pandemic has highlighted the need for new skills to be developed and for us to find ways to address a myriad of challenges that have a systemic impact. An exchange of learnings and fresh perspective to tackle the challenges with speed and agility for the benefit of insurance clients and in contribution towards economic recovery is an important enabler for growth.” comments Dawie Loots, CEO of MUA.

Because the value proposition for digital transformation initiatives touches every aspect of an insurance business, it can deliver desired breakthroughs in performance both internally through increased efficiency and process automation; and externally through increased speed to market and richer consumer and broker experiences.

Michelle Ashen from MUA comments, “When two minds come together, a third mind emerges, a mastermind. Mastermind groups have been critical to our digital transformation journey and seen us thrive over the past thirty years.”

The very essence of consumer behavior is being reshaped by the new operating environment highlighting the need for collective mindpower that harnesses the capability of various role players expertise in designing transformation that benefits the insurance client and builds regenerative insurance firms. Graham Harvey, CEO of Cardinal continued to explore with participants a series of thought provoking questions, “How are customers changing? What are they worried about? How they’re making their decisions? How can we evaluate customer journeys to deliver a better experience? How partnerships do we need to bring about transformation and how ready is the organization and its people?”

Harvey emphasized, “We’re now using our experience to inform our digital transformation journeys with our clients and then passing on the learnings, sharing our evolving expertise in meaningful ways.” A Digital Exchange is vital for the insurance industry because of the changing landscape and needs of the digital customer to bring ease in their engagement with insurance firms during a trauma or unexpected loss. Digital transformation is not a simple, overnight process and should not be equated with replacing an entire legacy system.

The benefits of a Digital Exchange for the insurance industry will enable greater speed to market through cross functional industry collaboration and an insight exchange to reduce costly oversight. While the digital transformation journey has the potential to create value for insurance firms through cost reduction, customer experience enhancement, speed to market, sales productivity, underwriting and claims efficiency – it will also demonstrate partnerships committed to transformation and the development of black brokers, diversity and inclusion.

“MUA have demonstrated that there is value not only in skills development, but in providing solutions that enable sustainable growth. We’ve been inspired by their commitment to empower all brokers in South Africa and we will offer additional support not only with the launch of this digital exchange, but also a focus on providing black brokers with the opportunity and benefit of free insurance technology solutions to enable their growth in addition to the learning and mentorship solutions MUA will contribute.” adds Harvey.

“We recognise that the value of our partnership to our brokers is unique so we are excited to evolve this partnership in a way that also supports diversity and inclusion through a focused mentorship of onboarding and equipping black brokers with the opportunity to thrive within the insurance industry.” adds Loots.

Rene Van Schalkwyk, Aon’s Head of Claims, shared the importance of an integrated digital transformation journey as well as the fact that insurance firms are only left with one option, digital transformation. Her expressed opinion was “It’s more than a single technology platform, implementing a system and operating in various independent technology silos. It’s really a journey that you embark on and along the journey sometimes you walk sometimes you crawl sometimes you sprint sometimes it goes fast, but with perseverance, endurance and patience you do get closer and closer to a different way of being and operating for your client.”

Out of this recent collaboration and overwhelming response to the webinar emerged The Digital Exchange, an invitation to establish and build a community that is actively engaged in the conversation and challenge with digital transformation within the insurance industry for the benefit of the client.

Devan Reddy, Chief Digital Operating Office for Cardinal shares the view that “As a leading technology role player in the short-term insurance ecosystem, Cardinal wants to make a difference to the industry and all its stakeholders. We recognise that digital transformation is not just about technology; people transformation is an equally important criteria for success. This resonates with our own business culture and ethos and we believe that starting up an industry collective and exchange will serve to increase awareness, where shared experiences can elevate the industries readiness for digital transformation, delivering broad benefits to all stakeholders. At Cardinal we understand that there is a common denominator that we all share and it’s the exceptions that make us unique. Our technology exceeds the demand of that common interest, but digital transformation will guarantee that we are able to address the exceptions as well. We want to use our platform technologies to enhance the digital value proposition, but also to lower the barrier to entry for sectors of the market where access to technology has impeded their ability to share in the enormous rewards the industry has to offer. We want to make a real difference.”

The FIA and its partners, AC Develop, MUA and Cardinal are inviting the insurance industry to engaged in a digital exchange for the purpose of transformation and a resilient industry. They are currently engaged with a variety of local and international thought leaders to contribute their voice to this exchange which includes Investsure’s Chief Operating Officer, Mbulelo Mpofana who was one of the six finalists chosen from South Africa to develop innovative business models over a period of six months in a Johannesburg incubation hub.

You are invited to attend a webinar on 18 February 2021 as we explore this collective contribution to digital transformation, prompting all stakeholders to participate and contribute their experience, knowledge and expertise with the intention that our combined mindpower benefits the insurance client and building back better the economy of South Africa.

Click on the link to register.