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Game-changing pacesetters and the meaning of strategic collaboration

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A view of the latest technology adoption from a recent study got my attention. The cross industry view showed increases in Big Data and Analytics of 39% from 2012 to 2014; Cloud increased over the same time frame by 92% and Mobile by 59%, but the shocker was Social, which increased by a whopping 106%. I was surprised by its relative performance among other high-flying watershed technologies that are getting enormous industry buzz. This was a mindset adjustment for me as I finished the latest paper by the Center for Applied Insight, “Raising the Game.” In fact, these findings summarized the insights from across 1,447 decision-makers, with 21 percent in the C-suite at the time of the survey – its well worth a read.

Basically, the study breaks down the research takeaways into 3 major points from which pacesetters across industries are taking substantial value:

  1. Broadening your idea of partnership
  2. Act on insight rather than instinct
  3. Combine technologies to amplify results.

The “Raising the Game” study uses a phrase that stuck with me after reading, as pacesetters had a “strategic collaborative approach.” I think it implies that industry leaders choose a strategic collaborative approach rather than an ad hoc or situational one that is projected upon them by the marketplace. That sounds like high-minded academics – and perhaps it is — but if you think about it, how many companies proactively choose collaboration in a majority of their relationships? A specific example from the study is around pacesetters’ skills gaps and treating innovation as a team sport. For some companies, there is a strategic choice to make the relationships with their employees transactional – pure economics of ‘you do x and you get y.” I think this approach is en vogue in some boardrooms, reducing employment to a ‘hand-to-mouth’ transaction. I think this study hints that there is more at work than pure incentives-based economics within this relationship. This was also reiterated in a recent news cast I saw around the collaborative benefit that is found in the strategic choice to maximize employee engagement where companies look holistically at how they ‘partner’ with their workforce rather than relate to them at a transactional level. The cases in that newscast are really worth a closer look, especially as insurance companies have not performed above other industries on retention and engagement, and have in the past shown issues with trust as part of financial services. Real strategic collaboration with employees and customers is achievable and could be viewed as a way to overcome trust issues, and there are new ways to ‘act on insight’ rather than instinct to optimize the partnership with the workforce.

Admittedly, collaboration sounds like a soft term in business. It is truly an overused term, misused within business to describe a host of different ways to get work done collectively. Still, true collaboration is at the root of all business relationships. And, I’m not sure insurance is leading the way to apply it strategically. Collaboration is a real source of rooted power that can be tapped to improve business outcomes across an enterprise. The technology that facilitates the collaboration is secondary to building the culture and processes that are supported by the technical. Technology should unleash and harness the natural business instincts to collaborate. Social capabilities and using social media to further business objectives are just the tools, but insurance still seems to be behind many other industries in their deployment of these capabilities.

For insurance, the power of collaboration has been of interest for some time. There was recently a great post on the importance of a holistic view of social and customer service within financial services – but this is an area where insurance has to believe in the value, as, evidently, pacesetters and other industries are already convinced to the tune of 106% increase in just 2 years.

Program Director, Cross-Portfolio Services Strategy

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