What Would You Do?

During a recent trip to China, I was presented with a wonderful opportunity to see things from a new perspective. Specifically, I found a new appreciation for the potential for improvement in insurance practices. I saw an industry in its relative ‘infancy’, though with market players already gigantic by any measure, that is about to take a massive leap forward in its levels of customer service, operational efficiency, and product innovation. I don’t want to call it immaturity, that would be a dis-service, but I will say the opportunity still available is astonishing despite a breath-taking growth rate in the market.  (Note: This use of superlatives, especially when it comes to scale, is appropriately common when referring to China….)

This is a market in a position we don’t see in most parts of the world where insurance has existed and evolved over years and years, driven by an evolving market. In China, the transformation of the insurance market  is going to happen in a very condensed timeframe as it is maturing quickly and expectations are rising to meet global standards. The question is: Do we expect the players in this market to climb up the same ladder as the insurance markets in the US and UK or will they be able to leapfrog right to the front seat of the leading best practices and technology? My bet is with the latter, but that will come with some challenges. One important factor is that the Chinese market will benefit by not having to manage a history of legacy practices and their supporting systems… with precedents that carry an inertia that would need to be overcome. One key aspect of their journey will be to ensure a complete solution is in place that will enable them to achieve their goals including profitable business growth as a piecemeal approach will be frustratingly limited in its impact at each step and may end up resembling the slower ‘climb’.

With that in mind, perhaps there is an opportunity to take something from this perspective ourselves. What would we do if we didn’t have the ‘legacy’ of the past and could take advantage of the best practices we see around us? Would we go slowly, taking every step along the path or would we leap forward and become the ‘best’, as we saw it?

I’ll be watching what happens in China. I’ll also be watching many other markets around the world, keeping in mind that innovation, and the opportunities it presents, can happen anywhere… and may be applicable everywhere. Don’t hold yourself to a local standard, see beyond and find best practices from both inside and outside your market. And when you see an opportunity to act, take it.