Despite challenges, the pandemic has unearthed opportunities from both a technology and strategic standpoint and has introduced new ways to measure the business value of digitization projects.
The pandemic has had a dramatic and adverse impact on companies of all sizes and geographic locations over the course of the past several months, including lost revenue, reduction of staff and cuts in IT budgets and spending. However, as we look back, there were some positive aspects as well, and more to come as plans are put in place for a post-COVID recovery.
Most companies, for example, were able to quickly pivot to a work-from-home structure to support employee safety, sustain and even increase productivity, and for the most part keep business activities on track. The transition has been so successful that many organizations plan to keep a portion of their workforce remote for the foreseeable future, in part to provide resiliency in the face of uncertainties. Weaknesses in IT infrastructure, process, and resources also became very apparent during the pandemic, pushing many companies to reduce or eliminate legacy debt, improve security, and increase investments in cloud services.
One additional upshot of the COVID crisis is a significant increase in the pace of digital transformation activities that are rapidly changing business models and user behavior. The pandemic has not only accelerated digitization but has exponentially increased the adoption of a digital process. What we anticipated to happen in the next five years is happening now, and what we thought wouldn’t have worked in the past is now possible because of the pandemic.
Digitization becomes a must-have
The life insurance business, for example, often relies on face-to-face sales interactions. But the pandemic turned that business model on its head. While we were already working on digitizing the sales process, there were pieces that needed to be accelerated or there soon wouldn’t be a business model. For us, digitization activities moved from nice-to-have to must-have in a matter of weeks. If we can’t get data electronically, underwrite automatically, or deliver policies digitally we can’t do business in today’s world.
Since March, we have delivered in less than 30 days two key initiatives that would have taken months, if not a year, to deliver under normal circumstances. The first is an automated underwriting process that uses data to manage risk up to $3MM without requiring the invasive process of going to a client’s house to take and test blood samples. The second project allowed us to electronically deliver policies to our customers since we had a limited in-office staff who did not want to rely on ‘snail mail,’ and agents could not meet the client to deliver the policy themselves. We are now working on the third transformational initiative that was originally projected to span multiple years but will now be done in 18 months.
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