Can Big Insurance Carriers Innovate Like Startups? Yes, if They Can Get Around the ‘Corporate Immune System’
By Birgit Fien-Schmalzbauer, Head of Research and Innovation, SAP for Insurance, and Sunil Khaladkar, Director, Business Model Innovation, SAP
There’s no question that the insurance industry is ready for some big ideas. The real question is who is going to bring the next “game changing” idea to a market that’s increasingly hungry for customer-centricity. We know that there are talented people inside insurance enterprises who have big ideas that can help the established carriers continue to lead the industry in the digital economy.
But in order to achieve this, insurance carriers will have to wholeheartedly embrace the digital revolution by thinking and acting at the pace of a tech-savvy startup. This can be done by harnessing the capabilities of the Internet of Things. However, the biggest roadblock any insurer will have to get past will be their own “corporate immune system.”
At SAP we created the Business Model Innovation (BMI) service center to tackle this issue effectively. We’ve finally discovered a way to incubate innovative ideas so we can test them and bring them to market in a low-risk way. That allows us to focus more on making strategic, market-driven changes rather than getting bogged down with operational issues.
We’d like to share some of the best practices the BMI team has discovered in its mission to implement the right business model for every innovation, faster.
Innovation requires a unified team focus
Two concepts drive the BMI team:
- One team/one dream
- Think big, start small, fail cheap
“One team/one dream” is more than a catchphrase to the BMI team. Rather, this idea provides a unifying focus – that everyone’s goal is to breathe life into a new business and work together to push through boundaries of corporate systems that would normally resist a bold step.
The BMI group is not an idea management team. Instead, it operates more like a business test lab, vetting product ideas that are created around business hypotheses, and then finding ways to create and test suitable business models in a pragmatic way.
The team consists of 19 experts from all functional business units. When necessary, they bring in experts from other areas to help scale obstacles.
Getting to market quickly with low risk
The BMI group encourages smaller steps to mature new business hypothesis from all functional business angles. This can be achieved by creating minimum viable products or controlled commercial pilots that we can release to a small subset of customers.
With consumer demand for more customer-centric offerings, insurance carriers that can mobilize focused teams that think big but start small are more likely to remain competitive in the digital future.
The SAP for Insurance team is well supported by the BMI group and looks forward to working with insurance companies with game changing ideas. Reach out to us for more details and collaboration.