Naughty or Nice

Iggy ran into Santa’s office and was almost out of breath when he got there and sat next to Robby. Robby, of course, had arrived on time and he and Santa were enjoying a warm cup of hot chocolate – with those little peppermint marshmallows – and munching on some just-out-of-the-oven sugar cookies he loved so much.

Santa merrily chuckled when he saw Iggy plop down and waved off his tardiness.

“Don’t worry about it. Here, have a cup of cocoa and some cookies. Let’s get to it. You two know I need your help deciding who has been naughty or nice in the insurance industry space.”

“What do you recommend? I had asked you, Robby, to think more about the insurance industry and you, Iggy, to think about the technology companies supporting insurers.”

Santa reached for another delectable sugar cookie covered with the many-colored sugar sprinkles. “Tell me who should get what so we can finish our N & N list.”

Robby said he did have some thoughts:

  • Let’s give the life and annuity insurers a large dose of hope for 2010. They are going to be regulated up one way and down the next in 2010. Plus the retirement crisis hasn’t really pushed sales as high up as it should have. probably due to the recession.
  • For property and casualty insurers, predictive analytics and other modeling capabilities would be nice stocking-stuffers; plus a large dollop of reality of the necessity of federal regulation. The marketplace has moved well into a national – and really international – framework.
  • For state insurance regulators we need both lumps of coal for those who think insurers exist primarily as whipping posts so they can remain in office – and lumps of sugar for those regulators who understand without reasonable capacity as defined by actuarial standards, insurers won’t be able to do business in their states in the first place

Santa put down his hot chocolate. “Anything else we need to put on the list for insurance industry players?”

Robby said there was one last item and it was a big one: “we need to leave a large saw for all insurers so they can clear a wide path in their companies to apply enterprise risk management practices and systems.”

“That’s a good one,” Santa guffawed. “And Iggy, what should go on the list for technology firms supporting the insurance industry?” Santa asked as he got up from his desk and poured More hot chocolate for Robby, Iggy and himself.  

“To begin with,” Iggy said “I want to give technology companies a large tub of white-out or white tape.” “Why,” Santa asked. “Because everytime a really new concept comes along, too many technology firms just relabel what they were already selling and say they are now offering the new concept.”

“I also want to give some of the outsourcing companies sets of small scissors to help them cut out all of those CMM levels and professional designations from their business cards.”

“Isn’t industry training important? Isn’t capability modeling important?, ” Santa asked.

“Of course it is but we know from talking to insurance professionals they really care about their outsourcers having actual, demonstrable insurance industry experience and referenceable clients whose company names carry some weight.”

“That can’t be all, ” Santa exclaimed, blowing the excess heat from his cup of chocolate and putting more of those tiny marshmallows in at the same time.

“Nope, there’s more,” Iggy said and rattled off:

  • For technology firms new to the insurance industry, I’d put HBR Case Studies in their stockings. These companies have to come up with sharp and unstandable value propositions and ways to truly differentiate themselves from the existing technology players.
  • For technology firms who are in a specific niche – say billing or even predictive analytics – we should give them a financial planning manual to they can prepare themselves to be acquired … or maybe directions to the nearest white knights.
  • For technology firms who are creating products or services based on new technologies (say, semantic technologies), I want to give them a 48-month annual calendar because selling something new to the insurance industry is going to take a very, very loooooong time.

And that’s it, Santa. Iggy reached for two more of those sugar cookies.

What would you add to either Robby’s list for insurers or Iggy’s list for technology firms to help Santa decide what to pack in his bag in 10 days?

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Published in: on December 15, 2009 at 7:34 am  Comments (2)  
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