In today’s world the new consumer and even the old “I love Amazon consumer” is expecting a connection with their purchase decision, whether that be lightbulbs, cars or insurance. “lightbulbs?” you say, “who cares about lightbulbs?” – well according to companies like Sylvania, everyone does. They are right! Today’s consumer likes to be able to research the manufacturer of the light bulbs, not the store selling them.
Who saw that coming? We used to think you just chose between Amazon, Best Buy or Home Depot but not anymore. Now you chose the manufacturer and the outlet. We have seen this in insurance before as the independents have to be able to make a choice on who’s product to sell – though we could argue as to whether that was for the interest of the client, the ease of doing business with the carrier or the compensation to the broker.
So what does any of this have to do with competitive advantage and software choices? It has everything to do with it because you are defined by your researchable perception – not your AM Best rating but your actual consumer footprint, your digital persona.
Your digital persona is of growing importance, this includes your ease of research, openness of information, services offered and your obvious brand. So, does this mean you need to quickly go find the latest packaged software and implement it?
The age-old question of “Build vs. Buy” raises its little head every now and then to a sea of answers, none of which are right for you and that is even more paramount now. With many highly functional systems on the market, you would think the “build” option has all but vanished and it had – but not anymore. By the way, when I say “build” I do not mean phone the VP of IT – most of his think tank has been at one carrier for 20 years and from the “patch it until it falls over” world.
With your digital persona being so critical in today’s world, there would seem to be a strong case that this is your only area for true competitive advantage. Most carriers are headlong down the road of providing a feature set – “we must have quoting, automated underwriting, straight through processing, digital documents, seamless interaction” and have already or are implementing some key packages in order to achieve these. But……
The thing is, some of these features are highly consumer interactive or will be in the coming years and these are the areas where you can be unique and standout – package eApp technology seems a missed opportunity for you to make a process yours, not just the same as the folks down the road.
With the Cloud as a backbone, many consultancies are moving a lot of effort into custom build options because they already have the industry knowledge, the tech skills and now an easy way to deploy and remove risk with lower cost points than most packages cost to even implement – let alone the perpetual license fees.
Should you build it all – Hell No!!! – complex back office systems, like an admin system or document generation system should never be built because building one would offer no advantage. However your digital persona needs to be Agile! You need to be able to pivot as the consumer or technology pivots, you need to be able to meet your consumer on their terms in a rapidly changing world – this, coupled with the much cheaper rapid development make “disposable technology” the way forward – own your persona and adapt it as needed.
If being YOU means having to bend to the way a package flows, interacts or looks for your digital persona then you have compromised yourself and your ability to gain an advantage – think long and hard on any aspect of your business that touches the consumer. Think about how to weave distinct packages, home grown and custom development into a digital persona – one you control because only you can give you a competitive advantage.