Digital disruption:5 Steps to navigate around a new era of revolution

| 10 Jan 2019

The world is going through a period of digital disruption. From the way we book our flights and hotels, how we access various contents such as music, videos and news, how we manage our finances, all the way to how we date and find partners.

There’s no good or bad, but here’s how we can navigate around the digital changes that are happening around us. For traditional companies who are still not embracing the digital ways, you’ll need to at least accept and understand the changes in customer behaviour and expectations brought on by technology.

In this excerpt from the article written by Lutfey Siddiqi, Visiting Professor-in-Practice, London School of Economics and Political Science, and Evelina Pietruschka, Chairperson, WanaArtha Life, on World Economic Forum, here are five steps you can adopt to react to the rapid changes brought on by digitalisation:

1. New reality

Start by acknowledging the dramatically changed context. Previously, growth used to be about increasing market share. Companies pursued the same methods to target the same set of competitors in the same market.

That kind of linear approach doesn’t work anymore. We need to look at the entire value chain, from product development to marketing, distribution, claims management and the feedback loop back to product development.

2. New Focus

The new reality also requires a new focus on the customer at the centre of your activities. As daily life changes over the years, the design process should revolve around the customer journey, the customer environment and the customer experience. For example, you can buy fruits from roadside sellers by scanning QR Codes in ShenZhen. Contactless payment is also rampant in other parts of Asia, too. Financial transactions complete with facial recognition or a fingerprint scan.

Digitalisation has changed the way we view customer’s experience. But the experience of walking into a bank and accessing the e-banking app should not be measured the same way, after-all, the app serves convenience, quick and simple transactions, whereas, the service at the bank offers a human touch that can resolve a complex financial request.

3. New approach

Central to the digital response is data, both public and personal. There’s a lot that can be done with publicly available aggregated data - data about the weather, for example, or about crop performance or about the spending habits of anonymised cohorts of people. It can help us thin-slice the insurance offering.

For example, you can now buy insurance for a trip just as you are about to take off. It is valid for a specific location for a specific duration, and as soon as the trip is over, the policy is over. Micro-insurance in bite-sized pieces is now feasible in a way that it wasn’t so in the past.

4. New competition

Insurance agents and advisers must look at every product line as an ecosystem. There is a healthcare ecosystem, as there is a real estate ecosystem and transport ecosystem.

The consumer looks at insurance as a process ranging from online comparisons to meet up consultation/ fact finding to follow up of a policy payout. Similarly, when it comes to renting or buying property or a car, the consumer looks for end-to-end service. Increasingly, insurance must be nested within that process, not as a stand-alone product.

5. New organisational culture

In a world of constant change, nobody has a monopoly of ideas. Organisations with a large headcount have a “wisdom of the crowd” to tap on. This should provide scale in organisational learning that is not available to a small start-up. However, this advantage is only utilised if the organisation engages its people in a deliberate and non-hierarchical manner.

Without an operating culture that promotes creativity and experimentation, organisations forgo speed and agility, which are the hallmarks of success in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Companies should also update their key performance indicators to reflect aspects of the customer experience. Every case can be tracked like a courier package and every encounter can be rated, as on TripAdvisor or Uber.

Finally, a key differentiator of organisational culture is its ability to execute on change while maintaining successful pre-existing businesses. At least for a temporary period, it is important to manage initiatives around “running the firm” separately from those around “changing the firm”. The tone at the top, ideally from the CEO, and allocation of resources must support new ventures and reinforce the direction of travel.


The article “Here are seven steps the insurance industry in the ASEAN region can take to navigate disruption” can be found here. You may also watch the keynote speech here.

These may interest you as well:

18th SAMC:Zero to Mega in a few digital ways

No evidence yet that tech firms can disrupt life insurance sector - AIA Group Chief Executive

Alternative distribution will grow but agency will not necessarily shrink - Generali's Regional Officer for Asia


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