The GroupTech Connect sessions at InsureTech Connect are meant to bring together Group and Employee Benefits industry leaders for focused dialogue before diving into the much larger ITC general sessions. This year, a few points and one overarching theme stood out as we plan for the next few years.
The employee benefits value chain continues to evolve. Connectivity is not an add-on, it’s a must-have. The proliferation of ecosystem vendors must consolidate over time and effectively become transparent. The role of benadmins continues to grow and is leading to changes in the way insurers are looking at their channels.
Core system replacement is a complex problem. It requires a strong business vision of expected outcomes and a willingness to accept intangible ROI benefits. The entire enterprise needs to be aligned with leaderships goals and must understand whether the initiative is tactical or transformational to their business.
Politics + regulation = a fragmented U.S. market. The regulatory/political landscape in the U.S. over the next few years is going to make it difficult to serve this market holistically. Maintaining fairness and transparency is more difficult today. Regulators risk making the problem worse if they don’t have a strong understanding of Machine Learning, algorithms, and Artificial Intelligence.
Digital transformation must be approached as a people-focused opportunity. Change management is a critical part of a transformational project. As one panelist said, transformation is incredibly important, but you still must conduct business as usual, often with the same key people working on the transformation project. Managing human and cultural change is necessary to achieve a successful outcome.
It comes down to fortitude
The overarching theme I took away from the convention is that fortitude is critical to transformation success. Mike Martocci of American Public Life made this point, and it echoed through many other discussions. Larger projects are hard, transformational efforts are much harder, and all these initiatives take significant time. They require buy-in at every level from the cubicle to the C-suite, through a thoughtfully/strategically executed change management campaign. None of them can meet the expectations of a 24–36-month ROI window; and attempts to artificially shape projects to fit narrow milestone windows often add more cost and effort, reducing the overall speed to market.
From the project’s executive sponsors to the people in operations maintaining business as usual, maintaining that fortitude requires a shared sense of vision and purpose – especially when it would be easier to let the project fall short of the original goal, which is very common, or to cancel it altogether.
While the potential benefits are large, transformation is hard; fortitude is required.
At FINEOS, we have completed many of these very large projects where fortitude is a critical ingredient to success. A great recent example of vision, purpose and fortitude that produced great rewards is the New York Life Group Benefit Solutions transformation. Give it a read.