Rodrigo DeCossio and I recently attended a breakfast meeting run by Oxbow Partners.  The topic was data and how it can be used to drive change within an enterprise. In attendance were multiple business leaders from across the insurance industry, each of them bringing a wealth of practical experience.

The discussion quickly turned to the challenges of managing digital transformation within a company. One idea that everyone in attendance seemed to agree on was that whilst the technology you are deploying is important, a potentially bigger challenge is to affect a cultural shift within the company that embraces the new technology.

Organisational Resistance to Digital Change

It was suggested that the larger the organisation is, the more resistant to change it would be, because employees often view specific responsibilities and skills with pride. An example was given of a team member who was responsible for managing all of the varied and siloed digital tools required to accurately produce a complex report. This worker, who spends a significant portion of their week doing this task, would understandably feel threatened by a system that can generate the same report quickly in a fraction of the time.

It is understandable for the person to worry that their employment might be at risk if they are no longer needed to perform the complex tasks required to build that report. This is why the people in the room agreed that it is important to get C-level buy-in and for executive management to create a company-wide narrative that shows employees how and where they fit into the new “data-driven” operational model.

Build Digital Capabilities Using Data-Driven Insights

Everyone at the table acknowledged that getting C-level executive buy-in can be difficult, but building a digital capability that produces data insights is a powerful way to overcome resistance.

As one speaker noted, reception of a new digital platform is lukewarm until it starts producing visual data outputs and actionable reports for the executive team. After they begin to see the insights that can be generated, they want to know what else it can do. Then they find the budget to hire data scientists and push more people to use and interact with the new digital tools.

Speaking at the event, Rodrigo DeCossio shared that MarkLogic customers often come with specific business problems that need to be solved and goals to be achieved. With this in mind, once digital capabilities start to deliver results and meeting goals, C-level engagement begins to grow and the cultural shift begins to filter down from the top.

A Cultural Tipping Point

Often you need a “tipping point,” which occurs when the capability moves from a data assignment or project to part of the company’s operating model, and can serve to demonstrate to the entire team the effectiveness of the new digital capabilities.

One example given during the meeting was a team that had always struggled with budget trackers. When they saw how painless the new digital tools were, the team started using the tools for complex reports, then easier reports, and then for day-to-day operations. Once the team started asking for more data, and to shift it into an operational tool, the whole database became vital to company operations and was used for far more than just reporting.

It is the reality of these complex business needs that is driving digital transformation across the insurance industry. Efficiencies, cost margins and competitive pricing are encouraging more and more insurance companies to consider streamlining and deploying new, more efficient, digital capabilities. As was apparent from the discussion, this will soon need to be the norm rather than the exception.

At MarkLogic, we have enabled large, complex insurance organisations to build digital capabilities in support of digital (and cultural) transformations. To find out how, visit our Insurance Industry Solutions page.

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