After several busy days at the 2018 Insurance Canada Technology Conference (ICTC), it’s likely you’re thinking about broad topics like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, predictive risk intelligence and how big the millennial market actually is.

It’s easy to walk away from these events feeling a bit overwhelmed or like you’re only scratching the surface with your digital efforts. These changes in the insurance industry sound like game changers and they are – but digital transformation is a journey not a sprint! Although some of the core technology exists today, it’s still in its infancy and a roadmap to full-fledged AI and Machine learning is going to take place over decades. What’s important now is to develop a strategy that will allow you to prepare, navigate and transform through this digital era which will continue to see significant change and innovations.

Here are five important steps you can take to begin or advance your digital transformation journey right now:

1. Take note of where you’re at today by investing in a digital audit

By now I think we can all agree digital is here to stay. Understanding your customers expectations today and how your organization is currently addressing them is critical to establishing an internal baseline for your digital investments. This sets the foundation of where, digitally, you are going as an organization.

If you’re 1-2 years into your digital strategy, it’s likely time to review what’s working and what’s not so you can start planning future phases. If you don’t have a digital strategy to begin with, it might be difficult to correlate any success with what you’ve already put out, thus making it even harder to justify further investment. The first step in this evolution is to invest in an agency or resource that specializes in advanced digital marketing audits. Get an expert opinion backed by a digital roadmap, hold discoveries and have a broad-minded approach to what may be required as part of your long term (digital) strategy.

2. Review and research your target audience

A big part of any digital strategy is truly understanding who your customers and potential customers are. This means understanding where to find them and determining what product(s) or service(s) they’re most interested in. Additionally, this involves understanding interests outside of your solutions, how their needs will evolve and even how they want to be serviced. This might even mean tweaking existing offerings or creating entirely new ones to meet the needs of your customers. Regardless, it’s time to stop the guesswork. This exercise should be a top priority for every organization in any industry.

3. Build a Strategic Roadmap

Using the insights from your audit, map out the priorities based on opportunity or internal pain points. Put a time frame around them and assign resources (internal or external – or both) and define KPIs that are in line with your goals. This will help you keep track of what you are trying to achieve and continuously measure your successes (and failures, which worded differently could say “learnings”). Prioritize plans for API integration and a framework for data mining management. Make sure you have tools and resources to get the data you need to make actionable decisions each step of the way.

4. Develop a plan over the next 3-5 years

Bringing some of these strategies to life will likely require longer investments in technology, people and data. Prioritize based on what you can deliver the most value in the shortest time and create plans to work towards the longer term investments. One thing that’s important to recognize here: initial 5-year strategies don’t always look like Picassos. It’s important to establish a starting point and continue to fine tune that plan to become rock solid. That often doesn’t happen overnight or on the first try – and that’s OK.

5. Hire the right team to help guide you

When it comes to operating your digital strategy, the agency you partner with and/or the people you build around should have these three attributes:

  • They can think like your customer. Having broad knowledge of your customer is not enough.
  • They are highly curious and analytical. This is essential to developing successful campaigns. They need to have an analytical mind-set to run, experiment and measure results on a constant basis. A good foundation of digital marketing knowledge is essential, but also look for skills like innovative spirit, attention to detail, and strong problem-solving abilities.
  • They have the ability to see the big picture or put detail into the big picture. The right partner can see and do both.

Thank you to the Insurance Canada team for putting on a wonderful event last week and to everyone who took the time to engage with us. If you’re starting to build your digital transformation strategy and need help, contact us. We’d love to understand how marrying strategy with technology will accelerate your organization’s growth!