Bigger isn’t always better 9th July 2018 We’re led to believe that as a general rule, bigger is always better, but over my years in the international insurance and reinsurance business I’ve come to realise that isn’t necessarily so. In fact, I’ve learnt first-hand that large companies, by their very nature can’t adopt the latest technology. They do have lots of money and investing heavily in new technology and systems, makes sense on paper, as there’s always a strong business case for the expense. Yet, there are so many elements working against them on delivering that illusive technological solution, which will make a material difference to their, often entrenched, ways of working. Firstly, the depth of the organisation creates issues. There’s a long way between Board agreement, those who sign that cheque, and those that implement and build the system. At the very least, there are a few layers of managers and executives who know the business and understand what the new technology needs to functionally do. IT and technologists who are employed internally to select the best tech solution and finally, the external suppliers, contractors and ‘disruptors’, who will take that freshly signed cheque in exchange for their services. Doesn’t sound that complicated on paper. But, the reality is very different because, with multi-layers of internal stakeholders comes long delivery times, changing opinions and priorities, project creep, delays and additional costs. We all know the longer the chain of command, the bigger the teams, the more voices need to be heard. There will be conflicting opinions, barriers put up and, quite often, project failure due to compromise. That’s if the project even gets off the ground. All innovation involves a certain degree of risk. And, it’s there that bigger companies can lose their nerve. They have heritage, a robust brand and a well-established business model at risk. They don’t have the ‘try, fail, improve’ mentality that smaller, entrepreneurial businesses relish. They prefer the ‘we’ve always done it this way’ approach. It’s safer. Bigger business has to deal with leadership changes. Often, this results in changes to the project, as the new CTO wants to add their own two-pennies into the pot, make a mark with their expertise. Leaving the project team rolling their eyes as there are yet more delays and the budget takes another hit. It happens! Then, of course, you have the legacy of an established business to address. Extensive legacy systems, prolific in the insurance industry, that are no longer fit for purpose. Systems that don’t talk to each other, and therefore, create more work and longer processes. Legacy systems that have had so many iterations, to make the square peg fit into the round hole, that there’s no painless way to migrate away from them. You also have the legacy of people to contend with. Quite often, bigger companies have promoted from within, home grown the talent, moulded them to be exactly what they want. Except, that often results in a blinkered point of view, it rarely leads to innovation and fresh perspective. It backs up the ‘we’ve always done it this way’ approach. And, at its worst, brings with it a lack of realisation that things need to change. Stifling innovation before it’s even begun. What bigger businesses should do, is to focus on having multiple small, new and innovative systems that are fit for purpose. But, it doesn’t happen, because the Global IT Director typically wants one company-wide solution, rather than having to support multiple systems. And, the Board agree, they naturally want to see global business benefits. And, in amongst all of this, spare a thought for that CTO – perhaps the worst job in the company. Why? Because, when the tech project is lingering on, running well over in terms of time and money, they’ll be replaced. It’ll be their neck on the block. It’s on to the next. Who, you’ve guessed it, will want to make their mark, make changes to the project, the supplier, the solution. It’s a never ending cycle of undelivered tech solutions. One of the real strengths of Probitas is our ability to be agile, flexible and adaptable in adopting the latest technology and innovative ways of working. We can just make it happen. From day one, we were determined the power of technology would be central to our business and we’ve had both the belief and desire to commit time and money to make that happen. We’ve resisted the urge to follow the herd and buy off the shelf. We’ve ignored the adage that expensive solutions must, therefore, be the best. We’ve not been seduced by the many small disruptive tech start-ups, because we don’t want to run the risk that they won’t be around this time next year. Instead, we’ve taken the time to internally consider what our solution should look like. We’ve spent time designing something that is not only what we want, but also addresses what we need. More than that, we’ve looked at what will make our brokers’ lives easier and of course, what will provide value to the policyholder. Our Leadership team have always agreed that we didn’t want something off the shelf; we didn’t want to spend time and money hammering that aforementioned square peg. We simply wanted the right solution and were determined to find it. So, we supported and invested in careful research that’s enabled us to build a solution ourselves, where we own the IP. We’ve always had the power of technology as part of our core DNA principals. And, now we’ve harnessed that power it will soon be time to release it to the market. Allowing us to differentiate Probitas from the competition and, at the same time, create a more attractive and efficient value proposition for brokers.