Some might consider that the world is currently undergoing a global correction. In recent weeks we as individuals and our companies have had to collectively come to terms with this phenomenon. We have also had to rapidly adapt to new ways of working to ensure business continuity.
Additionally, we have seen the entire workforce, especially in the insurance arena, switch to remote working when the industry normally thrives on face to face interaction. Covid-19 has deprived us of the ability to use more traditional practices - although a few will consider them to be outdated.
For some organisations making this transition was a little easier as they had prepared for digital working, which merely required (almost) a flick of a switch, but for many more this proved to be, and still is, a challenge. Going digital is not an overnight activity and whist the mindset change is welcome there is still much to be done.
New mindset will lead us to a new norm
I believe that Covid-19 will lead to revolutions which will determine what the ‘new norm’ looks like and the outcomes are likely to continue far beyond the pandemic. Over the last few months we have been forced out of our comfort zones and learnt that if we open our minds to new possibilities, we can adapt decade old practices to enhance the way we work, without breaking the system. What we have achieved shows that with the right focus and motivation, from everybody, anything is possible. We have proven that transformation can happen quickly, not requiring months of effort, but lots ‘can’ be achieved overnight. Yet the undertone to all of this is technology, we need to recognise and optimise the abundance of available and cost-effective technology that has been a real enabler during this crisis.
Just to give one example, following lockdown in the UK the number of unique users on the Placing Platform Limited (PPL) increased by 40% in just over three weeks. This platform has been around since 2016 and user adoption has had to be accelerated, but it saw a record number of trades placed on 31st of March.
So, how can we maintain the momentum?
I believe that now we have unlocked the resistance to change that this impetus needs to be used to accelerate plans for digitization. It feels like a revolution, but it’s actually accelerating the evolution of digital transformation. We have already adopted lots of readily available technology that has become more familiar in the last few weeks. We have similarly learnt that we can adapt and adopt to new working practices quickly but how can we maintain the momentum?
We need to apply the lessons learnt to optimise our operations. Although it has taken an ‘extinction event’ to bring about the urgency required to make rapid operational changes, we need to keep moving forward. As with any natural disaster this should lead to building things differently, in readiness for when it happens again. We need to redesign and rethink some of these tools, technologies and processes to work better and also consider cultural and some of the softer behavioural working practices.
As an example, my days are filled with more meetings and each one takes at least half an hour. But I think what has been lost are those 5 or 10 minute side of the desk or water cooler chats to share quick bits of information with different people across the organisation. There has been a loss of community. Over the last 12 weeks we have all been focused and task-driven, to get the job done, but we are missing the more casual face-to-face interactions. This is often where golden nuggets and ideas are shared that can advise or even change a course of action. This can still be achieved through chat technology, but we need to recognise that where we are is not the end state.
I believe we now need to consider what else needs to be done in a digital way to encourage conversations and communities that will also help to build truly global organisations. When we have colleagues visit from overseas, we share so many more ideas and thoughts, whereas normally and from a distance we tend to have more transactional interactions. If we can create that ‘office type environment’ and level of engagement using technology platforms then it suddenly means we can have that level of engagement with anyone, anywhere.
Time to rethink business and how business is done
Over the last few weeks as individuals and companies we have had time to take stock and look at life and the world through a new lens. Moving forward buying habits will change, so too will expectations. We will also see a shift in regulations and how they will be applied to businesses - informing and driving a need to operate differently – forcing us to rethink how we do business and how business is done.
I believe our first step should be to digitize today’s world. With our renewed mindset we then need to optimise the new norm, continuing to adapt, and adopt, automate, embracing new ways of working and building community as we focus on generating new revenue and increasing our effectiveness. And finally, as we forge ahead with a renewed mindset and strong digital foundations, we can launch more products and services, to embark on the journey towards true and comprehensive transformation.
Author: Tom Maleczek