Why insurance brokerages need to prioritize—and talk about—digital strategy

By Melanie Muise, COO, Navacord

Insurance is one of the oldest industries in the world, and we have an image problem. We are perceived to be a very traditional business model that’s slow to change—particularly in the area of digital transformation. I’ve spent the last 3 years overseeing Navacord’s IT portfolio and truly believe brokers are beginning to make strides, but the reality is that for an industry that trades on risk, we need to do a better job of protecting ourselves and our clients when it comes to the fast-changing digital landscape.

The pandemic accelerated change—specifically for insurance brokers—not just operationally and in how and when we service clients, but in how we manage and use data as well. It also tested everyone’s technology systems and requirements, and forced us to learn new and innovative ways to connect with clients and each other. Brokerages who want to keep up with their competitors—as well as their customers’ and employees’ needs—must invest considerably in a robust digital strategy and continue to capitalize on this accelerated digital agenda. Many challenges remain ahead on a broad range of topics: geopolitical uncertainty leading to increased cyber threats, the great resignation and the talent shortage, inflation, and the need to drive greater efficiencies. Brokers will need to consider how to leverage existing and emerging technology to maximize results.

The lagging image of our industry may be exacerbated by the fact that we aren’t openly leading or engaging the topic of digital strategy, and sharing how we’re adopting innovation. At a conference recently, I was surprised to learn how few of us are leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA) technology. There are some incredible use cases emerging related to the use of bots, for example, and we’re doing ourselves a disservice by not talking about it or leveraging it, because what’s groundbreaking today will quickly become table stakes tomorrow.

While brokerages realize that having a digital strategy is crucial, the definition of it has also changed. It’s no longer simply about quoting or binding online, or having a broker management system, it’s about harnessing an entire ecosystem—the capabilities of the background infrastructure—to mine data and insights and quickly influence results in real-time. It’s about enabling clients and employees, no matter where they are, and implementing new technologies to broaden our recruitment pools and talent pipeline. I also believe it’s more than about investment in technology, but also investment in strong, strategic partnerships and deep relationships with your IT supply chain, as well.

The misperception of our industry’s ability to adapt to the modern world may remain, but things are changing. At Navacord, technology has moved to the forefront of our business, with an annual investment in data, digital, infrastructure and cybersecurity on par with the fintech industry. Our goals for growth and expansion rely on building foundational capabilities that allow for business diversity, scale and broaden interactions, sustaining value in our core business while creating value in new frontiers.

We have the appetite for change so let’s start talking about it. By engaging each other, and leading the conversation about digital innovation, together our voices can change the industry.

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