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I spent the morning yesterday with the Board of Directors of a multi-billion dollar credit union, taking a good hard look at the trends sweeping the financial services space. They know that disruption is real, and that it is happening now.

And disruption is everywhere: every business, and every industry is  being redefined at blinding speed by technology, globalization, the rapid emergence of new competitors, new forms of collaborative global R&D, and countless other challenges.


The speed with which these changes occur are now being increasingly driven by he arrival of a younger, more entrepreneurial generation; a group that seems determined to change the world to reflect their ideas and concept of opportunity. They’ve grown up networked, wired, and are collaborative in ways that no previous generation seems to be.

And therein lies the challenge.

Most organizations are bound up in traditions, process, certain defined ways of doing things — rules — that have helped them succeed in the past. Over time, they have developed a corporate culture which might have worked at the slower paced world of the past — but now has them on the sick-bed, suffering from an organizational sclerosis that clogs up their ability to try to do anything new.

Those very things which worked for them in the past might be the anchors that could now hold them back as the future rushes at them with ever increasing speed.

They are being challenged in a fundamental way by those who think big, and by some really big, transformative trends.

How to cope with accelerating change?  Think big, start small and scale fast!

I’m doing many keynotes in which I outline the major trends and opportunities that come from “thinking big, starting small, and scaling fast,” by addressing some of the fundamental changes that are underway.

1. Entire industries are going “upside down”

One thing you need to know is this: entire industries are being flipped on their back by some pretty big trends.

Consider the world of health care. Essentially, today, it’s a system in which we fix people after they become sick. You come down with some type of medical condition; your doctor does a diagnosis, and a form of treatment is put in place. That’s overly simplifying things, but essentially that is how it works.

Yet that is going to change in a pretty fundamental way with genomic, or DNA based medicine. It takes us into a world in which we can more easily understand what health conditions are you susceptible or at risk for throughout your life. It moves us from a world in which we fix you after you are sick — to one in which we know what you are likely to become sick with, and come up with a course of action before things go wrong. That’s a pretty BIG and pretty fundamental change. I like to say that the system is going “upside down.”

So it is with the automotive and transport industry. One day, most people drove their own cars. One day in the future, cars will do much of the driving on their own. That’s a pretty change — sort of the reverse, or upside-down, from how it use to be.

Or think about education: at one time, most people went to the place where education is delivered. But with the massive explosion of connectivity and new education delivery methods involving technology, an increasing number of people are in a situation where education is delivered to them. That’s upside down too!

You can go through any industry and see similar signs. That’s a lot of opportunity for big change.

2. Moore’s law – everywhere!

Another big trend that is driving a lot of change comes about as technology takes over the rate of change in the industry.

Going forward, every single industry, from health care to agriculture to insurance and banking, will find out that change will start to come at the speed of Moore’s law — a speed of change that is MUCH faster than they are used too. (Remember, Moore’s law explains that roughly, the processing power of a computer chip doubles every 18 months while its cost cuts in half. It provides for the pretty extreme exponential growth curve we see with a lot of consumer and computer technology today.)

Back to health care. We know that genomic medicine is moving us from a world in which we fix people after they are sick – to one where we know what they will likely become sick with as a result of DNA testing. But now kick in the impact of Moore’s law, as Silicon Valley takes over the pace of development of the genomic sequencing machines. It took $3 billion to sequence the first genome, which by 2009 had dropped to $100,000. It’s said that by mid-summer, the cost had dropped to under $10,000, and by the end of the year, $1,000. In just a few years, you’ll be able to go to a local Source by Circuit City and buy a little $5 genomic sequencer – and one day, such a device will cost just a few pennies.

The collapsing cost and increasing sophistication of these machines portends a revolution in the world of health care. Similar trends are occurring elsewhere – in every single industry, we know one thing: that Moore’s law rules!

3. Loss of the control of the pace of innovation

What happens when Moore’s law appears in every industry? Accelerating change, and massive business model disruption as staid, slow moving organizations struggle to keep up with faster paced technology upstarts.

Consider the world of car insurance — we are witnessing a flood of GPS based driver monitoring technologies that measure your speed, acceleration and whether you are stopping at all the stop signs. Show good driving behaviour, and you’ll get a rebate on your insurance. It’s happening in banking, with the the imminent emergence of the digital wallet and the trend in which your cell phone becomes a credit card.

In both cases, large, stodgy, slow insurance companies and banks that move like molasses will have to struggle to fine tune their ability to innovate and keep up : they’re not used to working at the same fast pace as technology companies.

Not only that, while they work to get their innovation agenda on track, they’ll realize with horror that its really hard to compete with companies like Google, PayPal, Facebook, and Apple — all of whom compete at the speed of light.

It should make for lots of fun!

4.  “Follow the leader” business methodologies

We’re also witnessing the more rapid emergence of new ways of doing business, and it’s leading us to a time in which companies have to instantly be able to copy any move by their competition – or risk falling behind.

For example, think about what is going on in retail, with one major trend defining the future: the Apple checkout process. Given what they’ve done, it seems to be all of a sudden, cash registers seemed to become obsolete. And if you take a look around, you’ll notice a trend in which a lot of other retailers are scrambling to duplicate the process, trying to link themselves to the cool Apple cachet.

That’s the new reality in the world of business — pacesetters today can swiftly and suddenly change the pace and structure of an industry, and other competitors have to scramble to keep up.  Consider this scenario: Amazon announces a same day delivery in some major centres. Google and Walmart almost immediately jump on board. And in just a short time, retailers in every major city are going to have be able to play the same game!

Fast format change, instant business model implementation, rapid fire strategic moves. That’s the new reality for business, and it’s the innovators who will adapt.

5. All interaction — all the time!

If there is one other major trend that is defining the world of retail and shopping, take a look at all the big television screens scattered all over the store! We’re entering the era of constant video bombardment in the retail space. How fast is the trend towards constant interaction evolving? Consider the comments by

Ron Boire, the new Chief Marketing Officer for Sears in the US (and former chief executive of Brookstone Inc.): “My focus will really be on creating more and better theatre in the stores.”

We are going to see a linking of this ‘in-store theatre’ with our mobile devices and our social networking relationships. Our Facebook app for a store brand (or the fact we’ve ‘liked’ the brand) will know we’re in the store, causing a a customized commercial to run, offering us a personalized product promotion with a  hefty discount. This type of scenario will be here faster than you think!

6. Products reinvented

Smart entrepreneurs have long realized something that few others have clued into : the future of products is all about enhancement through intelligence and connectivity. Nail those two aspects, and you suddenly sell an old product at significantly higher new prices.

Consider the NEST Learning Thermostat. It’s design is uber-cutting edge, and was in fact dreamed up by one of the key designers of the iPad. It looks cool, it’s smart, connected, and there’s an App for that! Then there is a Phillips Hue Smart LED Lightbulb, a $69 light bulb that is uber-smart, connected, and can be controlled from your mobile device. Both are sold at the Apple store!

Or take a look at the Whitings Wi-Fi Body Scale. Splash a bit of design onto the concept of a home weigh scale, build it with connectivity, link it to some cool online graphs and you’ve got a device that will take your daily weight, BMI and body-fat-mass tracking into a real motivational tool.  Where is it sold? Why, at the Apple store too!

Do you notice a trend here?

7. Careers reinvented

For those who that the post-2008 North American recovery from the recession was slow, here’s an open secret: there was a significant economic recovery underway for quite some time, as companies in every sector ranging from manufacturing to agriculture worked hard to reinvent themselves. It just didn’t involve a lot of new jobs, because the knowledge required to do a new job in today’s economy is pretty complex. We’ve moved quickly from the economy of menial, brute force jobs to new careers that require a lot of high level skill. The trend has been underway for a long, long time.

Consider the North American manufacturing sector, a true renaissance industry if there ever was one! Smart engineers at a wide variety of manufacturing organizations have transformed process to such a degree, and involved the use of such sophisticated robotic technology, that the economic recovery in this sector involves workers who have to master a lot of new knowledge. One client observed of their manufacturing staff: “The education level of our workforce has increased so much….The machinists in this industry do trigonometry in their heads.”

Similar skills transitions are underway in a wide variety of other industries….

8. The Rise of the Small over Incumbents

We are living in the era that involves the end of incumbency. Companies aren’t assured that they will own the marketplace and industry they operate within because of past success ; they’ll have to continually re-prove themselves through innovation.

Consider Square, the small little device that lets your iPhone become a credit card. What a fascinating little concept that has such big potential for disruption. And it’s a case where once again, small little upstarts are causing turmoil, disruption and competitive challenge in larger industries — and often times, the incumbents are too slow to react.

Anyone who has ever tried to get a Merchant Account from Visa, MasterCard or American Express in order to accept credit cards knows that it is likely trying to pull teeth from a pen – many folks just give up in exasperation. Square, on the other hand, will send you this little device for free (or you can pick one up at the Apple Store.) Link it to your bank account, and you’re in business.

So while credit card companies have been trying to figure out the complexities of the future of their industry, a small little company comes along and just does something magical! No complexities, no challenges, no problems.

* * * *
There are people who are making big bold bets, big bold decisions, who are going to change the world and who are going to do things differently.” That phrase was from my opening keynote for the Accenture International Utilities and Energy Conference in San Francisco some years back.

It’s a good sentiment, and is a good way to think about the idea of ‘thinking big.’

Let’s face it: the trends impacting life and property/casualty and groups benefits insurance companies are real.

The industries will be disrupted by tech companies. Existing brokerage and distribution networks will be obliterated as more people buy insurance direct. Predictive analytics will shift the industry away from actuarial based historical assessment to real-time coverage. Policy niches, micro-insurance and just-in-time insurance will drive an increasing number of revenue models. The Internet of Things (IoT) and massive connectivity will provide for massive market and business model disruption. Fast paced trends involving self-driving cars, the sharing economy, blockchains, personal drones, swarmbots, smart dust, artificial intelligence and augmented reality will either mitigate, accelerate or challenge the very notion of risk assessment and underwriting! What happens when Amazon, Google or some kid in a garage decide to really change the insurance business model?

What seemed to be science fiction just a few short years ago has become a reality today, as time compresses and the future accelerates. Whichever way you look, all sectors of the insurance industry are set for an era of disruption, challenge and change! Is the industry ready for transformative change? Not really! A recent survey indicated that while 94% of Chief Strategy Officers at insurance companies agree that tech will “rapidly change their industry in 5 years,” fewer than 1 in 5 CSOs believe their companies are prepared.

Does the insurance industry have the innovation culture necessary to deal with the potential for what comes next? Maybe not.

Jim has been the keynote speaker for dozens of conferences, corporate events and association annual meetings in the insurance sector, including • Certified Professional Chartered Underwriter Association • LIMRA International • Assurant Insurance • Chubb Commercial • Lincoln Financial • GAMA International • Cigna  • Blue Cross Blue Shield  •Equitable Life Insurance Company  •RBC Life Insurance •MetLife •SwissRe •American Institute of Actuaries • American Automobile Association • FM Global and SunLife. Jim led a discussion on the future of insurance at a private meeting that included CxO’s from most major insurers, including Allianz, XL Insurance, Travelers, AIG,  Zurich Financial Services, Allstate, AXA, MetLife Auto & Home, Farmers,  CNA,  Nationwide, American Famity, Chubb, Ping An, Lloyd’s of London, Liberty Mutual, The Hartford, Generali, GEICO, State Farm, Progressive, and RSA.

Jim Carroll has been helping insurance organizations in the world understand the tsunami of change that is FinTech, the impact of mobile technology, social networks, rapid business emergence, accelerated risk, the emergence of new global competitors and heightened customer expectations.

In his keynotes he puts into perspective the real trends impacting the future of insurance, offering critical insight into the key innovation and leadership strategies in a time of disruptive change.

In the next two weeks, I’ll have two unique keynotes to close off the year: a keynote for the United Soybean Board on the future of agriculture in St. Louis, and then an event in New York City for the senior leadership team of one of the world’s largest life insurance companies.

Then, it’s time for a holiday break — I’ll be busy with one son running the backyard snowmaking machine, and I’ll be working with the other to flood the newly constructed ice rink at the chalet.

** Read more about our awesome backyard snowmaking system below!

But after that, the future fires up in fast fashion as January kicks in! Here’s whats’ coming already in the early part of 2017:

  • I will speaking to the a leadership meeting for the new organization, Arconic. This is a public spin-off of the global aluminum giant, Alcoa, that will be focused on major opportunities in the transportation, construction and other sectors.
  • two days later, I’ll. focus on the future of construction industry for a leadership meeting of the Alberici Group, a major organization in the industrial and commercial construction sector. I’ll take a deep look at future trends and opportunities in the industries that affect them as a means for spotting opportunities for innovation
  • two events in New Orleans follow in fast fashion. The first is for the American Financial Services Association — I’ll be taking a good look at the future of the automotive industry. Everything from the reality of self-driving cars, the emergence of smart highway infrastructure, the sharing economy and more, and how this might impact the future of automotive lending
  • the second N.O. event is for United Suppliers, an agricultural cooperative, where I’ll take a look at the fast paced trends in this industry
  • that’s followed up by an private innovation awards event for a hi-tech company, based around my theme, “What Do World Class Innovators Do that Others Don’t Do?” — and why its important to celebrate innovation success!
  • hot on the heels of that event, I’ll keynote a global event for Bayer  in San Antonio, spinning back into agriculture world with a real – hey, agriculture is a hot topic!
  • then, its off to Palm Springs, where I will host a half day session with a major company in the automative retail/repair space, with the Board of Directors and senior leadership team, again, all around the theme of the future of the automative industry and disruptive innovation

** Backyard snowmaking? Why not! At our chalet, we’ve always had a little ‘luge run’, and one of my sons always wanted to make snow, so he built his own. As I wrote on Facebook: “As temperatures in the north east begin to plummet, it’s time to turn to thoughts of snow. For that, you need to accelerate your innovation with a backyard snowmaking system. Here’s ours. It can pump out a 10×20, 2″ base of snow in 2-4 hours. It utilizes a pressure washer, air compressor, and a very sophisticated system of valves and nozzles to atomize the water to the right consistency. It also requires optimal snowmaking conditions, and so for that, we have a Raspberry Pi with a SenseHat running Linux that monitors dew point, humidity and temperature in real time, so that the proper Wet Bulb temperature snowmaking is calculated and known.”

One thing I always stress to potential clients is that they are getting much more than just a keynote or presentation for a leadership group — they are getting highly customized insight based on significant original research.

That fact has led to the client list that I have — which includes Disney, two (!) talks for NASA, the PGA of America and more….

I must admit, it’s always a thrill to read the tweets that are sent while you are on stage — realizing that you have really changed lives and changed perspectives!

edutech

You know you are doing something right when you research gets carried further into the industry:

insuretech

To that end, here’s an overview of some of the talks I’ve done this fall:

  • Disruption and Change in the Insurance Industry: a keynote for GAMA International, a global organization for leaders in the global insurance/financial services industry. There’s a tremendous amount of change happening, and much more yet to come. What did I cover in my keynote? You can read about it in my post, Insurance and Innovation: The Challenge of Change . This is one of many talks I’ve done in the insurance industry over the years; I’ve done talks for most major property and life insurance companies at one time or another, and have shared the stage with CEO’s of many of the organizations in the industry.
  • The Future of Insurance Risk: continuing on the insurance theme, an opening keynote for the client conference of FMGlobal, a leading underwriter of insurance risk in the commercial real estate space. My talk took a look at a broad range of trends that will impact the future structure of buildings, architecture, manufacturing facilities and more. Over the years, I’ve done many talks that have looked at the trends impacting the world of commercial real estate.
  • The Future of Medical Device Technology & Healthcare: a talk for an innovation recognition dinner, and then a talk for key R&D staff, for Philips Respironics, a division of Philips Medical Devices, on how the industry will be transformed through hyper-connectivity, changing consumer behaviour, the acceleration of science and much more.
  • The Future of Education. I was the opening keynote speaker for the EdNet 2016 conference in Dallas, with several hundred senior executives from the “education knowledge industry” (aka textbooks) in the room. Read at overview of my talk, Forge Ahead and Move Fast, in an article from an industry publication.
  • Wealth Management and Industry Change: a private event for CEO’s of 40 companies, each with $1 billion+ in revenue, for a private equity company. It’s one of many talks that I do to help senior executives think about the trends that might impact their lines of business and investments – read more in a blog post, Global Wealth Managers Turn to Jim Carroll for Insight on Trends .  It’s kind of cool to think that family wealth managers for such groups as the Wrigley family foundation, the Rothschild’s, the Bill & Melinda Gates family office, and the  Google and many, many others, have turned to me for insight over the years.
  • The Future of Manufacturing: keynotes for the Association of High Tech Distributors in Napa Valley; for Alignex in Minneapolis; and then a rip-roaring motivational keynote full of the latest manufacturing trends for the the Greater Philadelphia Manufacturing conference. The tweets coming out of these events have been astonishing — people in the manufacturing sector are looking for hope and inspiration, and I seem to be giving it to them in spades. Read more at my post, The Disruption and Reinvention of Manufacturing.
  • The Future of Seniors Care: two talks in Nashville for senior executives from the North American assisted living and seniors care industry. I was booked by the American Healthcare Organization and the Centre for Assisted Living, and took a look at the opportunities that come from innovative thinking in dealing with one of the most significant challenges of our time.
  • The Future of Construction, Architecture and Infrastructure: a keynote to open the annual conference of the American Concrete Institute. They admitted to me that they’ve never engaged a keynote speaker to open their event — they’ve been rather ‘stuck’ in their ways, if you pardon the pun. Will they do it again! You bet — my talk took a look at what happens when the world of concrete is influenced by fast trends — 3D printing is coming to concrete, and its coming fast!
  • The Future of Rail and Manufacturing: a talk for Amsted Rail, one of the leading manufacturers in the rail industry. This talk involved a lot of intensive preparation, with about 6 pre-planning conference call with the team bringing me in, as well as very specific, detailed research.

 

Last week, I was the opening keynote speaker for a small insurance industry group — and had senior executives of quite a few major property & casualty and life insurance companies in the room.

As always, I undertook an extensive amount of detailed research on the latest status of innovation within the industry. In addition, I looked back on my research and interview notes for previous keynotes for CEOs and other executives for the largest insurance companies in the world.

(Last December, I was the opening keynote for the annual Insurance Executive Conference in New York City; in the room was the CEO for Transamerica Life, among others; this is typical of many talks I’ve done within the industry over the course of 20 years)

"Kicking off Executive Leadership Council meeting with our friends @GAMAIntl  & keynote @jimcarroll in Amelia Island"

@IntellectSEEC – “Kicking off Executive Leadership Council meeting with our friends @GAMAIntl & keynote @jimcarroll in Amelia Island”

Let’s face it: the trends are real. The industry will be disrupted by tech companies. Existing brokerage and distribution networks will be obliterated as more people buy insurance direct. Predictive analytics will shift the industry away from actuarial based historical assessment to real-time coverage. Policy niches, micro-insurance and just-in-time insurance will drive an increasing number of revenue models. The Internet of Things (iOt) and healthcare connectivity will provide for massive market and business model disruption. I could go on for hours!

To gauge the current thinking within the industry as to “how to deal with what comes next,” my session included some hands-on, live interactive text-message polling.

Right out of the bat, I asked the participants if they felt ready for the massive disruption now underway in the insurance sector.

And the fact is, they are not:

gama1

Having said that, they know that they are in the midst of some pretty significant change — the majority indicated that they believe that the insurance industry will not look anything in 10 years like it looks today.

gama2

The reaction in the room parallels that of a recent Accenture study that I referenced in my keynote:

  • CSO’s at global companies and 94% of CSO’s at insurance companies agree that tech will “rapidly change their industry in 5 years”
  • fewer than 1 in 5 CSOs in insurance believe their companies are prepared
  • fewer than 1 in 10 believe their companies are “high value achievers”

A similar observation was found in a recent PWC study on the insurance industry:

  • “Nine in 10 insurance executives polled by consultant PwC reckon at least part of their business is at risk over the next five years – a greater proportion than in any other area of finance”

Clearly, these executives know that something needs to be done to deal with the potential for business model disruption in the industry. Yet is the industry prepared to deal with it?

Not really:

  • “Fewer than 50 per cent of respondents in the life and general insurance sectors said they would increase IT spending to help them access new customers.” Fintech is booming – but where are 
the insurance tech startups? 
29 September 2015, City AM

Here’s the current problem: there is tremendous potential for complacency to seep into the industry, particularly as Google has pulled back from its’ Google Compare initiative. (This service let people use a Google tool to do comparison shopping for insurance policies from major carriers; the CEO of Google Compare also spoke at the New York event last December).

  • “Google’s initial failure shows technology firms won’t necessarily have “an easy road” to success in the new sector.” Beating Silicon Valley to the Punch; Digitizing Insurance, 11 March 2016

Is the complacency warranted? Not in my view — I think most tech companies, when disrupting an industry and suffer an initial setback, come back in a bigger and more significant way. It’s most likely that when Google, Amazon, Apple and other tech companies  come back in to disrupt insurance, they won’t be working with major carriers to do it!

  • “Expect that when the megatechs enter the insurance space, they will insist on taking control of a much bigger portion of the sales journey, positioning themselves as an alternative end-to-end solution provider, not just a lead generator.” Life Insurance Disruption, Asia Insurance Review, June 2016

Does the insurance industry have the innovation culture necessary to deal with the potential for what comes next? My next poll gave me a pretty stark response — the industry continues to be bound up in some pretty significant organizational sclerosis.

gama3

Is there a way out of this mess? Can the industry fix the clear strategic mismatch which exists?

In my keynote,  I suggested that disruption in such a significant issue that it really needs to be dealt with at the level of the Board; strategy needs to be kicked up a notch; clear responses and actions are warranted.

Quite clearly, specific responsibility needs to be put in place to implement a  disruption-strategy. Back to the Accenture report:

  • “Companies that have put in place chief digital officers and chief innovation officers and who report directly to the CEO tend to have a dedicated focus on technology-focused initiatives …. That’s a sign that they and C-level peers are taking technology-disruption seriously.”

Industry insight also clearly shows that insurance companies must “partner-up” to deal with the fact they simply don’t have the technology expertise to compete with Google, Amazon and others.

  • “an overarching theme …. not least among them insurers .. is that they cannot face technology driven innovation by themselves” – “How to disrupt the high-tech disruptors”
National Underwriter & Health
September 2016

Are many insurance companies following the path to partner up? Sadly, no:

  • “Only 28% of the respondents said they explored partnerships with fintech companies and less than 14% actively participated in ventures or incubator programmes.” Insurance Companies Slow in 
Bridging Fintch Gap, Mint, July 2016

I’ve been providing strategic level guidance to senior executives in the global insurance industry for over 20 years.

The issues, challenges and opportunities are stark. They’re real. They’re not going away.

Will most companies survive? Maybe not. Stay tuned!

Keynotes: A Note on Customization
September 15th, 2016

I’m about to head out the door to Amelia Island, Florida, where tomorrow morning I will do a talk for a small group of senior executives from the insurance industry — both property & casualty as well as life insurance companies.

I’m thinking its going to be a great talk — built around the theme, “10 Realities and Opportunities with Fintech Disruption.”

As with most talks, there’s been an extensive amount of research — conference calls with the client, not to forget 479 highly-specific articles on trends impacting the insurance industry.

fintech

What’s involved in building a great keynote? Detailed research, such as these articles on the future I’ve insurance that I’m reading through. If you want real insight on future trends and opportunities for innovation that are specific to your industry, give me a call.

On the flight down, I’ll fine tune my presentation, and wade through these articles once again.

I tweeted about this a week ago:

479 articles on the future of #fintech #insurance that I’m reading today – for my keynote in Florida next week for major insurance CEO’s/CxO’s. Some speakers offer pap. Others *customize*. ”Creating a great keynote” -> https://www.jimcarroll.com/keynotes-workshops/creating-a-great-keynote/

This type of research helps me build a keynote that has detailed, industry specific information, such as these nuggets:

  • 2/3 of insurance CEOs see tech as both opportunity & threat” -from a PWC study. (Of course, it makes me wonder — are the rest asleep?
  • nearly 70% of insurance CEOs see the speed of technological change as a threat to growth and more than 60% are concerned about shifts in consumer spending and behaviour

This ties in with other specific, detailed research I’ve undertaken, not to forget the fact that in the last few years, my keynotes have involved audiences that have included the CEO’s of most major North American and global insurance companies.

My keynote includes observations from a  session I did in Philadelphia that included a private one-on-one with the CEO’s of the top 10 P&C companies in North America. 10 years ago, I had the CIO’s for the top 15 P&C/life companies in for a private meeting that went on for two hours.

People book me because they want real insight .

And that’s the reputation I’ve built in the industry — specific, detailed, information and statistic rich presentations that don’t offer motivational pap — but real concrete guidance on strategies, opportunities, challenges and innovation.

If you want real insight on future trends and opportunities for innovation that are specific to your industry, give me a call.

We can talk about the specific ways in which I can help.

 

This article ran last week after I did a talk for one of the world’s leading heart research / hospital institutions, the University of Ottawa Heart Institute.

Health care is the most complex issue that our society faces in our time. We really need some big and bold and very innovative thinking to deal with the scope of the challenges.

Health care’s best bet: technology
Ottawa Citizen, May 16, 2012 

AT&T is developing clothing with built-in sensors that monitor blood pressure, perspiration rates and other health indicators. One smartphone app tracks every mouthful of food you eat. Another links to a device that monitors blood glucose levels in diabetic children as they sleep, and notifies parents through an alarm if they spike in the night.

As Jim Carroll would say, this is real stuff. This isn’t science fiction.

Carroll, a 53-year-old resident of Mississauga, is one of the world’s leading futurists. And as he told a room full of nurses at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute last week, technology is driving rapid changes in the way we treat the sick and care for our own health.

That’s a good thing, he said, given the health-care challenges we face. Chronic disease caused by poor lifestyles is driving massive future demands on the system. Society won’t be able to afford nursing home care for all the boomers who will need it. The number of people with Alzheimers and dementia is rising exponentially.

And because longevity is increasing — a baby girl born today can expect to live to 100, Carroll said — the elderly will need costly care for more years than in the past.

“Health care is the most complex issue that our society faces in our time,” said Carroll. “We really need some big and bold and very innovative thinking to deal with the scope of the challenges.”

Fortunately, there’s lots of that going on, it seems, largely driven by lightening-fast advances in technology. The cost of mapping the human genome has fallen from $3 million to $10,000 and is expected to fall to just $1,000 by year’s end.

“Five years out,” Carroll said, “we’ll be able to buy genomic sequencing machines for $5 at Circuit City. This is a staggering transformation.” That means increasingly, doctors will be able to shift from treating illnesses to preventing them, Carroll said.

Another key trend is “pervasive connectivity” — the notion that everything we own will be able to plug into everything else. In health care, that’s called bioconnectivity, Carroll said. And among other things, it can be used to monitor patients from afar.

One example is Medcottage, a 12-by-24-foot modular building that offers an alternative to institutional care for the sick or elderly in their family’s back yard. The unit provides round-the-clock medical monitoring while giving occupants some privacy and independence.

Ottawa’s heart institute already is using technology to monitor the health of about 150 elderly patients in their homes. Patients use the devices to record their blood pressure, heart rate and blood glucose levels, then plug them into their phones to download the information to the hospital.

The results have been impressive, said Heather Sherrard, the heart institute’s vice-president of clinical services. “The group that gets the home monitoring has anywhere between a 30 and 40 per cent reduction in the amount of times they have to come back to the hospital,” she said. Thanks to the remote devices, “we can see them every day and tweak them.”

The heart institute also uses automated phone calls to check up on patients who’ve had a heart attack. “You can’t financially afford to call everybody,” said Sherrard. “So the system does all the calling, it gives them a series of questions we know are based on evidence, and that allows us to just go ahead and deal with the 10 per cent who are the problem.”

One thing the hospital discovered is that about 40 per cent of patients were substituting Tylenol for their prescribed Aspirin, because they liked Tylenol more. But unlike Tylenol, Aspirin is an anticoagulant, which helps reduce the risk of another attack. “When you’ve had a heart attack, you cannot substitute Tylenol for Aspirin,” Sherrard said.

Canada still has a long way to go to catch up with the United States when it comes to innovative health-care thinking, Carroll said. He credited insurance companies with driving much of the innovation south of the border.

“I get insurance companies that are actively talking about rolling out wellness apps to employee groups,” he said. “It’s not going to happen in Canada, because they don’t control what we spend.”

That’s part of the debate we need to have in Canada, Carroll said. “We all love the Canadian system in terms of the structure and the fact that we don’t become bankrupt if we have a serious medical condition.

“But given the rapid rate of change and opportunity that is happening, we need to somehow figure out how to speed up innovation in the context of health care. Instead of just talking about wait times, we need to think really big.”

 

Here’s the text for a keynote I’m doing in Calgary tomorrow at noon for a group of IT executives.

Lots to think about here – the future belongs to those who are fast!

———–

“The new business model for everyone will increasingly use speed as a metric, and fast-innovation is a core capability”

Certainly the last forty years have seen technology play a huge impact on business.

Name any industry – auto, health care, manufacturing, energy, banking — and it’s clear that we are witnessing a fundamental and distinct shift of the innovation agenda to one which is driven by the speed of Silicon Valley, and by a generation of people in the computing world who think fundamentally differently about the source of innovation in an industry.

As this occurs, we will see massive business model disruption as new, faster, more nimble competitors who understand technology based disruption, cast aside their slower, ingrained counterparts who are stuck with old, ingrained ideas.

The future belongs, in other words, to those who are fast. Tech companies and tech based innovators certainly understand that logic. Their entire DNA is bound up in the ability to move fast.

That’s why financial organizations are finding themselves plunged into a whirlwind of change as our mobile devices become our credit cards. As slow-to-change insurance companies find that driver-performance oriented insurance policies, linked to in-dash GPS monitoring technologies, wreak havoc on old-line insurance assumptions. As the world of health care adjusts to the reality of a less than $1,000 genomic sequence machine — something that would have cost over $1 million just ten years ago, leading us much quicker to a world of personalized medicine. And an oil and gas industry which is witnessing hyper-innovation in terms of extraction techniques, driven by deep data analysis and other capabilities, which are leading to year over year yield increases which were unmanageable years ago.

The new business model for everyone will increasingly use speed as a metric, and fast-innovation is a core capability.

That’s why you should join iON Secured Networks and Check Point Security Technologies, as we bring you the unique insight of Jim Carroll, who has emerged as one of the world’s leading international futurists, trends and innovation experts, with a client list that ranges from Northrop Grumman to Rockwell Collins; the SouthWest Gas Association to RGA Reinsurance; the Walt Disney Organization to NASA. Jim has had the opportunity to study what world-class innovators have been doing to keep up with a world in which the future belongs to the fast. He will share with us the new role of leading edge technologies involving cloud networks, agile computing, just-in-time development and other key strategies that will help organizations to deploy the right technologies at the right time for the right purpose — a strategy that will be increasingly important as all industries come to innovate at the speed of Silicon Valley.

In the last few weeks, I’ve done a number of insurance oriented keynotes, including one for a meeting with the CEO and top leadership team of one of the largest insurers in the world, as well as a top insurance association.

We are quickly moving into an era of "performance oriented insurance" with policies / pricing based on performance. There will be huge opportunities for disruptive business model change as this trend unfolds.

And I’ve been busy speaking to the trends and opportunities for innovation that are going to come into this often-slow-to-react industry at lightning speed.

In an era in which everything around is plugging together,  there are tremendous new opportunities for some pretty massive business model change. I often make a joke on stage that perhaps one day my weigh scale might send an email to my fridge one day if I’m not living up to the terms of my life insurance wellness clause.

Yet, is such thinking far fetched?

Maybe not!

One of the biggest trends which is going to hit the world of insurance like a tidal wave is performance based insurance policies. If you live up to or exceed some performance standard, you’ll get a rebate or reduction on your insurance  policy rate.

It’s going to happen extremely quickly in the field of automotive insurance. A flood of GPS enabled performance measuring devices will soon come to inhabit most automobiles throughout the industrialized world. Insurance companies will set a policy price, and then give you a rebate if you exhibit better than average behavior.

Consider a program already underway in the UK:

Insure The Box measures drivers’ mileage, when they drive, and how they drive. Excessive G-forces, sudden braking or cornering and long periods of driving without a break are monitored.

Policyholders are charged by the mile and motorists initially pay for 6,000 miles. Once these are used up they can buy more miles as they need them. Policyholders are rewarded with “free” miles if they drive safely.

Money: A spy in the car that could cut cost of cover for young drivers
The Guardian, UK, April 2011

You can expect most North American insurance companies to roll out similar technology and performance. Or maybe not — some organizations won’t have the speed, agility and flexibility to do this at the pace that the market, competitive and customer pressure will require.

The result is a classic opportunity for big business model disruption.

The same type of thing is going to occur in the world of life insurance.

It has long been the assumption that despite the rapid emergence of genomic, preventative medicine, that it would never be desirable, ethical or even fair to underwrite policies based on a DNA test.

I’m a believer that this is a pretty big assumption to make. History shows that assumptions that underlie a business model barely last. When I speak about innovation, I advise people it’s often best to challenge assumptions — those who don’t often miss the biggest opportunities.

Clearly, we know that there are some powerful trends at work:

  • the cost for a DNA test that can be used to predict with a high degree of accuracy the disesases and conditions you will inherit in your lifetime is set to collapse, as Moore’s law comes to drive the cost of DNA sequencing machines that do the test
  • hence, greater numbers of people will have the opportunity to gain such insight (whether it be good or bad)
  • those who have a test that shows a life that will be relatively disease and condition free would likely be able to offer themselves up to a group of speciality insurers and get a policy discount compared to the average population

Again, there’s opportunity for big business model change and upheaval as this happens.

So too is the concept of a rebate of your life, medical or disability insurance, if you can prove that you are taking regular, active steps to ensure that you are in good health. Certainly there are those in the the health care system, who know that with the massive challenges in front of, the system, a lot of big, bold transformative thinking is necessary.

A federal grant program authorized in the health overhaul law is offering states $100 million to reward Medicaid recipients who make an effort to quit smoking or keep their weight, blood pressure or cholesterol levels in check. The grant program is meant to encourage states to experiment with an uncertain approach to wellness: offering incentives for healthy behavior.

Healthy behaviors pay off; Medicaid recipients who commit to improving their health will be eligible for financial rewards, Los Angeles Times, April 2011

Extend this type of thinking into what comes next in our hyperconnected world — individuals who monitor their blood pressure, glucose levels and other vitals that they are willing to share with their insurer. Exercise and wellness apps on their iPhone that they can use to demonstrate the commitment to a regular series of workouts. Adherence to a personalized lifestyle plan — with insurance cost reductions based on performance.

This type of stuff isn’t far-fetched at all. And it’s going to hit the insurance world quicker than it thinks.

Then there’s the issue of the underwriting of insurance risk. Today, in the life insurance industry, you must undergo a battery of medical and blood tests so that they can make an assessment as to whether you are insurable.

Tomorrow will be completely different, and it will be here before the industry knows it:

“Assuming privacy regulations require it, by 2020 underwriting will consist of one question: ‘Can I look up everything about you?’”

The Next Decade in Innovation, Insurance & Technology, May 2011

Tomorrow? They might simply look you up on Facebook, and based on what they see, come to a decision as to whether they will insure you or not.

Farfetched? Not at all!  In fact, some in the insurance industry are already talking about it:

“Insurers are preparing to use people’s Facebook profiles and online spending habits as a way of setting premiums based on their lifestyle. The Sunday Times, December 2010

The article goes on to note:

“Studies for the insurers suggest that people’s online data detailing their food purchases, activities and social groups can be as good an indicator of their life expectancy as conventional medical examinations.

The trials were conducted by Deloitte Consulting LLP and showed that consumer data, based on a sample of 60,000 people, was as effective in identifying potential health risks as if the applicant for insurance had gone for a blood and urine test

Aviva, one of Britain’s largest insurers, is planning to introduce the new “predictive modelling” in Britain next year after studying the results of trials in America. Swiss Re is also working on a similar scheme.

The Sunday Times, December 2010

The bottom line is that in the next several years, at a very fast paced, the world of insurance is going to be challenged through innovation involving analytics and predictive modelling, performance based policies, and a whole series of other opportunity.

The future will belong to those who are fast!

Cyber-skepticism is rooted deep….it’s going to take a ton of work to bring people in the business world back

I just got back from Orlando, where I did a few sessions on my Thriving on Change! How to Create an Innovation Culture theme at the PLUS International conference. [ link ]

PLUS stands for Professional Liability Underwriting Society — in other words, the folks who underwrite liability policies for doctors, dentists, architects, lawyers and accountants. Given the year of scandal, its an industry in quite a bit of turmoil.

My focus was to talk about how emerging business systems will cause quite a bit of change within the industry. I once said that “the truth is that many insurance companies are using 1950s methods to deal with customers who deal with other financial institutions using 21st century methods.” [ link ]

Fact is, it’s not an industry that has been successful at leveraging technology — a 2000 Deloitte & Touche survey indicated that more than 90% of agent-carrier communications go by phone, paper and fax. Paper-intense! Did you know that there are 70 million pre-printed insurance forms floating around out there??? Imagine the cost-inefficiencies in the business.

Fortunately, the big carriers seem to have finally figured the Internet out, after a lot of false starts. Indicative of what is happening is Lloyd’s of London Project Blue Mountain initiative. Simply put, the objective is all about “creating efficiencies for both brokers and underwriters to get more reliable data on which to base their decisions.” In other words, streamline business processes and transactions — the paper! — in order to achieve cost savings between the providers and the brokers and underwriters in the business chain. [ link ]

The industry is slowly moving to a world where brokers and agents can bind policies on behalf of their clients online, and can access all kinds of other policy and transactional detail. In other words — ebiz in the insurance industry isn’t about having customers buy policies online — its about using technology to help the broker and agent do their job better.

OK, so the insurance companies have figured it out. But from every session I do for insurance companies and industry events such as this, I get the feeling that a) the staff is really in the dark ages about what is going on and that b) they’re skeptical of anything technology related overall.

We can fix a) — there simply needs to be better communication of the strategies that are driving this.

But b) is a big problem, and the fact that they think like that isn’t surprising. In their industry, they’ve seen futurists come along and predict “distintermediation. “It was said that all the brokers would disappear, as insurance companies began to sell direct. That didn’t happen, and won’t happen, because insurance is a fear-based product, and is sold, not bought.

Then they were told that there would be vast new insurance marketplaces online that would forever change the industry. That didn’t happen either.

The fact is, they’ve seen a lot of things come and go from the technology world, and the result of all these “big changes” that have never come about is that the typical employee in any insurance company — whether it be life, property and casualty, medical benefits or professional liability — is skeptical of any pronouncement made these days about new technology directions. There’s sort of an attitude there of “yeah, we’ve heard it all before, and it’s just another story. It won’t happen.”

Which means that insurance companies are going to have a real tough time making their new systems work. After all, how can they do so in a culture which has become so darned skeptical?

Food for thought. The terrible thing is that this is a reality in almost every industry. The lingering hangover effect of the dot.com years lingers on.

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