The New Face of Thought Leadership

I go to a lot of conferences every year, varying both in size and sponsor type. Conferences are a great way to leave corporate pressures—and corporate culture—behind, and see the business through different lenses, as well as expand knowledge horizons to drive better business outcomes.

At CEB, we urge our members to be thought leaders. We also recognize that the very best thought leadership is self-generating. Evidence of that was apparent at Guidewire’s User Conference this week, which centers on Guidewire’s customers themselves. The center stage, roundtables, and case studies featured customers who shared their experiences and generated practical, real-world thought leadership. There were, of course, expert-led workshops, but the most powerful sessions were those featuring customers.

General Colin Powell spoke, focusing on the theme of leadership and his experiences with that subject. He said that true leaders invest in their people, and it was apparent that many insurers were investing in their people by sending them to the conference. Gary Hoberman of MetLife also spoke about the power of leadership when business and IT truly align. When these functions collaborate, they become one voice, generating belief that goals will be met and that the energy comes from the top down.

The other critical trend highly visible at the conference was the power and value of technology partner networks. Given the pace of business change, no insurer can afford to do one discrete “project” at a time. Rather, technology initiatives must be optimized to the fullest for robust end-to-end processes. The partner exhibit area was another source of thought leadership—all very relevant to the conference participants’ interests and needs.

True leaders understand that the technology adoption landscape has changed, and they must not only invest in their people, but also be open and supportive of learning from many sources.

Karen Pauli is a senior executive advisor in the Insurance practice at CEB TowerGroup. She covers a wide range of topics in property and casualty insurance, specializing in distribution, underwriting, claims, predictive analytics, core systems and business optimization.